How to Stop Worrying and Start LivingAs you get older, it is all too easy to get in a rut - with fixed viewpoints, stuck emotions, ways of being that others can see clearly but you just think are 'right'. A life full of safe solutions. But if you start to shut out new experiences, or if you take less interest in new things, so your capacity for enjoying life diminishes. You stay in your comfort zone, and as you get older, your comfort zone gets smaller and smaller. This is harmful because you not only stop doing things that scare you, but you also stop doing things that give you pleasure.
You need to stop worrying and start living, not just to be happy but for health reasons too. Feeling good is not just a luxury, it is a vital necessity for good health and long life. There is scientific research that supports this. In 1973, Dr Ronald Grossarth-Maticek undertook an experiment on more than 3000 elderly Germans. He measured how often they felt pleasure. In 1994 he followed up and found that those with the highest scores were 30 times more likely to be alive and well than those with low scores.
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Can you remember the last time you had a moment of pure joy? It is possible to change your life so that you have that delightful feeling as often as you want...
- What makes you happy?
Write down a list of things that make you excited, however big, small, likely or unlikely. Then work to make them occur more often. And appreciate the good things you take for granted - your child's hug or a good book. Look for moments of joy and savour them. recognize how many happen every day. Feeling good can be a way of life, not just an occasional accident.
- Take care of your health
Eating well and getting plenty of exercise will raise your spirits. Lack of nutrients will get you down so don't skip meals or make do with junk food. Physical exercise is known to stimulate endorphins that lift depression and anxiety - so walk, swim, run or whatever you like doing best.
Smiling triggers happy feelings in the brain and reduces stress. Even if you don't feel happy or confident just behave as though you do and soon you will. Find the joy in your life and you'll be more attractive and nicer to be around, people will be nicer to you too - and you'll smile some more! Joy is infectious but so is misery; therefore don't have anything whatever to do with people who dampen your spirits, invalidate your achievements or tell you what to think.
- Make the most of your resources
Beware of 'mustabation', the belief that you must have a new relationship, a better job and a bigger house before you can be happy. Extremes of thought only set you up for failure. Remember, what you want is what you've not yet got but what you need is all around you! Don't chuck the baby out with the bathwater, work to improve things.
- Get positive
Write down every negative thought you have over the course of a week, whether it's "My family don't appreciate me" or "I look dreadful." Negativity is a habit and we often don't realize we're doing ourselves down. Under each negative thought you've written, see if you can spot an alternative way of looking at it, that isn't so negative. See if you've exaggerated the situation or overly generalized, or if you are being unnecessarily intolerant, or thinking in 'should' and 'ought-to' terms.
- Recognize all possibilities but expect success
There's a world of difference between expecting failure or rejection - so as not to be disappointed when it occurs - and recognizing it as a possibility. It's sensible to look at a situation from all angles and to have a back-up plan to fall back on if need be. People who do this will often see failure as another step on the road to eventual success; but by expecting and envisioning success, there's less likely to be a failure. You naturally move towards whatever you envision. Those who dwell on the worst case scenario, on the other hand, and give themselves worry and stress, tend to be devastated when it actually happens, even though they've been predicting it.
- Assert your rights
Think of things which you have a right to, e.g. "I have a right to an evening out with my friends from time to time." Think of rights that every human being should have, such as, "I have the right not to be bullied." Now, protect your rights with your life, and watch your integrity and self-esteem grow.
- Nurture your relationships
Take time and trouble over your friends and your partner. Talk and laugh with them and - especially - listen and understand their points of view. Don't make being right more important than a friendship. People with a few close friends are more likely to be happy than those with many mere acquaintances.
- Give yourself some time
For most of us, life is fast-paced. Be sure to put aside a little time every day for yourself - relax with a book, in the bath or sitting in the garden with the sun on your face. Think of some things that make you happy - worrying solves nothing. And at night time, go to bed early enough that you get enough sleep to feel your best the next day.
- Put things in perspective
When something's gone wrong it's tempting to believe nothing will ever go right again. Put it in perspective - things go wrong sometimes, even when life's really good. Life is for learning and without mistakes you learn very little. Notice when you exaggerate or generalize about an issue - "It's unbearable ..." or "Everyone thinks ..." - and re-phrase your thoughts more realistically.
- Take control
Instead of feeling overwhelmed by a task, break it down into small segments that you know you can do and start on the first one. If you have lots of incomplete jobs, list them in order of priority and tackle the most important job first. This way you have a sense of achievement at each step - and you'll soon find yourself getting a whole lot more accomplished. Production equals morale.
If you have a problem, the thing to do is to communicate: find out the information you need to get the full picture, so that the solution becomes apparent. If you're upset, you need to communicate and say how you feel. If you've done something wrong, again you need to communicate this. Spot where you're backing off from what you then need to do or say, and as the saying goes, "feel the fear and do it anyway". You'll be glad you did!
- Be creative
Making something come to life that you have envisioned - whether a painting, a wonderful meal, a dress, an invention, a business plan - is infinitely satisfying. And you'll feel pleasure every time you think of it. If you want to be happy, get active - at work, within the family and the community. You will feel happier when you're participating in an activity, whether it's just playing with a child or helping organize a worthwhile event.
- Live for the moment
Joy is often about living in the moment, being absorbed in what you're doing, not brooding on the past or guessing your future. Decide what YOU really want and then go for it. This may mean a job, a friendship or a hobby. It can take courage but it's worth the risk. Then give yourself wholeheartedly to the present moment.
- You deserve it
Self-esteem comes from demonstrated competence. Everyone has skills but not everyone uses them. So use your skills - find out what you're good at and do it. Tell yourself that you deserve all the praise that comes your way and wallow in it!
The good news is that you're a human and not a monkey. You have the advantages of using your conscious mind to overcome any and all psychological insecurities. That's what's so cool about personal development. If you are suffering from insecurity issues, you should be doing LOTS of personal development every day, and also meditation every day, and that will eventually solve all your issues. It's up to you to undertake this process. There's no reason to stay afraid, depressed or unfulfilled for the rest of your life.