SINGAPORE: As 2020 draws to a close, I penned some of my reflections and learnings over these past months. Thematically, what I have heard as the most expressed emotion this year is ‘worry’. Most of the social conversations these days are around concerns related to health, COVID-19, ageing and vulnerable parents, children’s education, feeling of being locked down, money, and the list of worrying subjects has never been longer.
As I started writing this piece, while serving out my quarantine notice period in a hotel in Singapore, my wife’s mother passed away. I found myself separated from my wife, who needed me more than ever and faced with a straightforward choice: to worry about the circumstance, or, to channel and apply with renewed vigour, my learnings over the past many months.
Most of us are still busy chasing the future. ‘Eye on the prize’ they say. I say, ‘Eye on the ball’. Subtle difference here is living in the moment or not acknowledging the present at all; enjoying the journey instead of being focused on the destination. If this life-changing year has taught us anything, it is the simple fact that life is completely uncertain and 98%+ of it is uncontrollable. What we can control of it is that 2% – our state of mind and how we choose to feel in each situation. And it is this choice that defines our actions.
A quote from the Guru Granth Sahib (the central religious scripture of Sikhism) says, “Chinta taki kijeye, jo anhoni hoy”. There is a profound depth in this quote, which when literally translated means, “Worry, if you must, about that which is unexpected or impossible”. The meaning I derive out of this is, “Worry about the most improbable or impossible thing, as the rest is ordained, and will happen as it is intended.”
2020 has been a year of the impossible manifesting. We never worried about a year like this, because it was an event beyond our wildest imagination proving that, even that which we could not conceive of, has come to pass. Logically then, worrying about it would have been pointless anyway right? That clarity, that conviction, that we cannot control life as we seem to think we can, is the secret to shedding the bad habit of “Worrying”.
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I dare call it a habit, but it’s true. It’s a horrible habit much like smoking or drugs but the consequences of are far worse than any other physical bad habits. It can slowly, but surely kill you. It results in anger, frustration, depression, unhappiness. It shifts your focus away from what you are doing in the present as you get into a rut of thinking about the future. So in the end, after working hard to achieve that goal you set, when you are actually in that moment of success, you find yourself unable to savour the present because you are unconsciously worrying about the future.
We don’t have to succumb to this pattern though. There is a life hack that can liberate us, a way to control that 2% that we can command, so that the other 98% can be lived joyously. And the secret lies – like with anything else worth gaining – in training our minds and thoughts.
I started training my mind on 9th February 2018 during a chat I was having with a dear friend who I also consider to be my life guru – a beacon of positivity and positive thinking. After many arguments, I agreed with him that it was all about training your mind and reflecting upon your behavior. Since that day, I have been trying hard not to worry and to live fully in the moment. My efforts have led to me keeping a clear focus on the situation at-hand, making aim decisions and taking actions without the overhanging cloud of worry. It has made my gut feeling a lot stronger as I trust myself more than I used to. I have been able to think through situations with complete clarity, humility and honesty. Above all, it has made me a thrilled, positive & non-judgmental human. I find happiness in others’ happiness and share mine with others.
Here are 9 tricks:
- Accept that worrying is a dangerous habit and a bad fashion statement.
- Walk away from fashionably negative conversations or take them as entertainment without judging.
- Train your mind to start with a positive thought about the situation, no matter how bad the situation might be.
- Be a bull, face the situation head-on. If you don’t, it will eventually bite your behind.
- If a worrying thought comes into your mind, accept it positively as a part of your analysis of the situation but not let it cloud your judgement or thought process.
- Reflect on your behavior. Ask yourself: ‘How did I handle this situation?’ ‘What could I have done better?’ ‘Where did my thought process breakdown and why?’
- Shed the ego. Be humble and accept that life is full of challenges and you will fail or someone else will do better than you. Humility will bring a feeling of being grateful at all times.
- Make Happiness your life goal. Your happiness and that of others around you.
- Remember, positive energies will bring positive thoughts and positive thoughts will always bring in happiness.