On Anxiety: How Changing Your Mindset Makes All the Difference
What you think about, you bring about.
I caught myself doing it again.That preprogrammed thought process of finding the “bad” in any given situation. Fear. Negativity. Stress. Worry. A big bowl of depressing mindset soup.Whether or not this mindset is driven by visionary longterm safety or simply out of fear is really not the question. The question is how long will you allow yourself to think this way?
Being in this state of mind is not a bad thing, but existing in it daily is. As evidence by our invention of Murphy’s Law, it’s natural for humans to view the world through the lens of negative possibility. After all we need to be prepared for what could go wrong, even if the majority of our time worrying ends up being over nothing. At least we can say we were prepared, right?
Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Matthew 6:27
This verse has always stood out to me personally. Growing up I dealt a lot with bullying, which naturally led to depression, anxiety, and seclusion. My introversion didn’t help. Alone in thoughts, my sleepless mind explored each and every opportunity to worry. Then one day I realized that worrying didn’t prevent the bad things from happening. The only thing I could actually control was my reaction to them.
As I grew older I learned that I had the power to override these worries by choosing to have a different mindset. It’s not easy. In fact it’s a daily internal battle, but it’s one that I think is worth fighting for. Most people spend their time focusing on the two or three “bad” things that happen in any given day. You forgot your gym clothes at home, you locked your keys in your car, you sent a drunk text to your ex. These little things often become the focal point of our thoughts amidst the fast-paced stress-filled chaos of daily life. This eventually leads to stress, anxiety, worry, fear. The same repeating cycle, all driven by your mindset.
I learned that if you choose to change your focus, you’ll view the world in a very different light. Instead of centering in on the few things that do go wrong, we should be focusing on the infinite number of bad things that could have gone wrong, but didn’t.
I call them my unseen blessings.
Unseen blessings are more of a metaphysical concept compared to the tangible “seen blessings” such as good health, family, and friends. You can call them luck, coincidence, or complete bullshit for all I care. All I ask is that you remain open to the possibility of having a different mindset. To me these unseen blessings are what we all too often ignore and take for granted.
For example, how did you start off your day this morning? Did you slowly roll out of bed and jump into the mindless daily routine of everyday life, or did you take a minute to be thankful for both the seen and unseen blessings in your life? We stroll through life unconsciously ignoring the many beautiful blessings that we have and pass them off as a given.
Sometimes the perceived “bad things” in our life can lead to a “good” unseen blessing. Not being able to find your keys this morning prevented you from getting on the highway behind a truck that caused a massive pileup.You wouldn’t know it though, you were too busy throwing a fit because you couldn’t find your keys. Maybe you overslept and missed an important conference call, but you ended up in the elevator with a Venture Capitalist who is now funding your company.
There are any number of similar examples where a small action, good or bad, results in an unseen larger action somewhere off in the future. Some refer to it as the butterfly effect, the sensitive dependency on initial conditions in which a small change at one place in a deterministic nonlinear system can result in a large difference in a later state.
The point is: the way you feel about your life is driven by your mindset. This skill of consciously altering your thought process takes time to master, if you ever truly master it at all. Today for example I experienced a chain of “good” events that led me to have doubts about the sustainability of my happiness from them. Nothing “bad” even happened, but I stressed over how long it would be until something did. I caught myself starting to worry instead of choosing to enjoy the day’s amazing experiences and being thankful for them. Count your blessings, both seen and unseen, and you’ll see that everyday can be a “good” day. That is, if you let it be.
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If you prefer, you can find an audio reading of this post on Soundcloud by clicking here.There are a few minor differences because I made some suggested edits to the post after I recorded this,but nothing major.