Everyone, from Alfred E. Newman on, seems to offer advice about how to handle worry. But at some point or another, we all do it.
Nobody makes a conscious choice to worry. It’s a very unpleasant feeling, and it generally doesn’t fix the problem. It can also rob us of our peace of mind.
Everyone worries, but by recognizing it for what it is and acknowledging the effect it has on us, we can minimize those effects. In my experience, once I recognize and accept a negative feeling, it brings it out into the light of day, and this somehow makes it less scary.
What do we do when negativity rears its ugly head?
We can try to always be positive and optimistic, but we can’t control it when others are negative.
However, by categorizing others’ words or actions as negative, we necessarily attach our own judgments to them and actually contribute to those words or actions being negative. We feed their negativity.
But what about inconsiderate drivers, rude retail clerks, catty relatives, surly teenagers, arrogant coworkers (I could go on all day)? Aren’t these people’s words and actions inherently negative? Maybe, but it’s not that simple.
There can be a tendency, especially as we get older, to believe that we’ve done our best work: We’ve run our fastest race; we’ve written our symphony; we’ve painted our masterpiece. We might go so far as to base our identities on our past accomplishments rather than on our current lives.
It is interesting to think of the periods in our lives when we were (or will be) on fire. When is our heyday? If we think it was in the past or will be well into the future, that’s a sign we’re not living our lives the way we could. Why can’t our heyday be right now?
We have a small house, and it doesn’t take much to make it look and feel cluttered.
Don’t get me wrong, I love our small house. It’s cozy. It has plenty of space to work and live. It promotes “togetherness” as a family. But, as I tell my overly generous mother-in-law, our house is “full.” It has “exceeded capacity.” It is, in a word, cluttered.
It’s not that we’re disorganized. It’s not that we have a bunch of stuff lying around that needs to be put away. Everything is away, there’s just too much of it.
Every once in a while, a voice inside me says, “I’m done.” I’ve used up all my energy and concentration, and I need some downtime. I need to spend some quality time doing nothing.
All of us need downtime—some need less than others and some seem to need way more than others. Why is this? One of the reasons might be what people do when they’re doing nothing. Some people waste their time when they’re wasting their time; and end up needing more time to waste (stay with me here).