Thursday, February 23, 2012

Anxiety And Worrying

I am not a big fan of prayers that involve a lot of words. I prefer the quieter, contemplative approach that most people think of when they hear the word meditation. One verbal prayer that I do like is a simple prayer from the Catholic mass that goes “Free us, Lord, from all anxiety”. Who among us does not have anxiety? We live in a culture of fear and many things that we used to believe in and expect to be there for us are now on shaky ground. The news media, especially on a local level, preys on our fears and makes most of us afraid to take out the trash for fear of being murdered in our front yard by a serial killer. Our churches are often full of scandal, our government is impotent, our investments are shaky, the world economy is collapsing, new diseases are invented everyday so we think we need to take more pills, everything we enjoy eating seems to be bad for us, and most people worry that they’ll never be able to retire. With all of this, who wouldn’t feel anxious? The reality is that most of us will never experience all these bad things in a devastating way. No one gets through life alive and we will all have some level of pain. Life is also not always fair but for most of us, it’s not too bad. Still, without some balance and centeredness in our lives, we will always be on the verge of anxiety. Worry has never accomplished anything. It is a waste of energy. The Dalai Lama suggests that the energy we spend on worrying should be re-channeled into finding solutions to our problems. If you feel overwhelmed and anxious with everything in your life, it might work best if you quit thinking about everything and focus on one thing at a time. I am reminded of a quote I once heard when I worked as a project manager. It went, “How do you eat an elephant”? The answer? “One bite at a time”.

No comments: