September 26
When I look back on all these worries,
I remember the story of the old man
who said on his deathbed that he
had had a lot of trouble, most of
which never happened.

Winston Churchill


Today's Meditation:

Winston may be quoting Mark Twain, who is attributed with a quotation on this topic, or he may be quoting someone else--and Twain said the same thing and had his name stuck to the idea.  Either way, it doesn't matter, for the thought here is one that's valuable to us as a life lesson from those who have lived before us and who are trying to pass on their wisdom to us in the hopes that we don't make the same mistakes they do.

We cause so much of our own stress that's it's almost comical, and if this tendency didn't cause so much pain and heartache, then we could call it laughable.  How many relationships wouldn't have broken up, how many kids would have been treated better, how many nights would we have slept more soundly if only we had been able to remember that those things that we're worrying about more than likely won't turn out in the worst possible way?

We do tend to think the worst.  If we're in financial trouble, we worry about what will happen when we have no money at all.  To think about that possibility is definitely natural, but to worry about it is something else altogether.  Worry won't change our finances--only action and planning and watching our spending will do so.  And I've known quite a few people who have lost their jobs and worried about the future only to have things turn out better than they were before.  The worrying that they did was useless, and it only caused them and their loved ones a significant amount of stress in their lives.

Think about things that are going wrong.  Think about possible problems in the future--but avoid worrying about them.  Plan for them and do your best to avoid them, but don't worry about them unless you truly enjoy stressing yourself out and making yourself miserable.  I know that it's easier said than done, but with practice it is possible to catch worry as soon as it rears its head and banish it, telling ourselves, "Things will turn out fine, even if I have to pass through a bad stretch, and worrying doesn't do a bit of good."  Then we can get back to focusing on our families, our jobs, and our enjoyments, and doing our best to ensure that the worst-case scenario about which we're worrying doesn't come to pass.

Questions to consider:

Why is it so easy to worry that the worst will happen in so many situations in our lives?

How many of the things about which you've worried never have come to pass?  Did your worrying do any good?

Why do so many older people tell us that the time they've spent worrying in their lives has been time wasted?

For further thought:

Worry not about the possible troubles of the future; for if
they come, you are but anticipating and adding to their weight;
and if they do not come, your worry is useless; and in either
case it is weak and in vain, and a distrust of God's providence.

Hugh Blair

More on worry.


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