April 26
Let us be of good cheer, remembering
that the misfortunes hardest to bear
are those which never happen.

James Russell Lowell


Today's Meditation:

I would be incredibly embarrassed to tell anyone how many times I've agonized over things that I was sure were going to happen, but never did.  When I stop and think about how much time I've wasted in my life worrying, stressing, and trying to avoid things that never came to be, I feel silly at best, and really, really dumb at worst.  Fortunately, though, I have learned the lesson, even if it has been the hard way.  I'm not always able to keep up my good cheer, but I am able to view potential calamities without a great deal of worry and even a little humor.

We do learn to look ahead in life and try to be aware of things that are going to happen in the future.  And we do want to be able to do so.  But this ability of ours also gets us into a great deal of trouble at times, for we often see terrible possibilities when in fact, those possibilities aren't going to happen.  Then we spend our time stressed out about misfortunes that are only in our heads.

Some of my students stress out every time they take tests, sure that they're going to fail, and they're miserable until they get their tests back with a passing grade on it.  Those days of misery don't help anything at all, and in fact the students are harming themselves by putting so much negative stress on themselves.  And of course, the failing grade never comes, so those days of stress were completely useless.

I can deal with misfortune.  I've been laid off, I've lost friends, I've lost relatives, I've had cars die on me on the freeway and I've had pants rip on me at embarrassing times, I've completely run out of money in a foreign country for two weeks.  I can deal with those things.  And sometimes I get very stressed out when they happen, and that stress actually helps me to deal with the situations more effectively.  The misfortunes that never happen except in my mind, though, are different, and it's very important that I not allow them to take over my mind, but that I banish them as soon as they appear in my thoughts.

Questions to consider:

How does it happen that so many people suffer from misfortunes that never really happen?

What are some ways of recognizing when we're stressing about something that probably isn't going to pass?

What are some of the ways to deal with it when we're focused on non-existent misfortunes?

For further thought:

I am an old man and have known a great many troubles,
but most of them have never happened.

Mark Twain


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