I used to be a first class worrier. I’d worry about calling and not calling. I’d worry about saying no and saying yes. Am I doing this right? Am I going along or expressing myself? Will I get it done in time? Will the check come in time? Should I eat this? What if I’m under-dressed?
Then I worried about worrying.
You name it, I worried, stewed, ruminated, obsessed.
Until I just got sick of it all. Worry is so unproductive. So stifling.
When we spend time worrying, we are passively engaging in the world. We aren’t really doing anything. Worry is not constructive, it’s not creative, it’s not even solution based. It keeps us stuck in a ruminating thought pattern that actually strips our energy and leaves us feeling stressed and tired instead of working to make a difference in the very thing we are worrying about.
I heard motivational teacher Wayne Dyer say once that we cannot worry enough to change the situation, or take away the sickness or improve the relationship.
But you certainly can stop worrying and take action toward change.
Think about it. When we worry we become trapped in the very circumstance we want out of. Instead, stop worrying and become aware. Then you can get busy enacting the change you want.
Shifting From Worry to Wonder
Shift your worry to wonder. This moves us into a place of curiosity and fires up our problem-solving abilities.
Wonder prompts us to question, look at all sides of an issue, get involved.
You can even hear the difference.
Say: “I’m worried about how my kid is doing in math.”
Or, “I wonder how my kid is doing in math.”
“I’m worried about my relationship, finances, health.”
Or, “I wonder about my relationship, finances, health.”
“I worry that I can’t do this.”
Or, “I wonder how I can get this done.”
One way of thinking moves you into pattern of rumination and rote thinking. The other, prompts you to get involved. Ask questions, open to others, seek information, look at possibilities.
Wonder and Awe
When we wonder, we also begin to take a broader view of our world and this opens us up to awe – which is now, scientists say, one of the qualities that promote health and well-being.
Awe allows us to experience the vast possibility and beauty in our lives and makes us feel as though we are connected to something bigger . Our lives take on greater meaning and satisfaction, says Dacher Keltner, PhD., a psychology professor at the University of California.
Feelings of awe also increase oxytocin levels and that prompts us to want to connect and care and share with others. Ever watched a powerful performance and then sent your friend the You-Tube link so they could see it too? Ever stood in a place and marveled at the clouds and the rivers and the trees and wanted to take a loved one back to that special spot?
Awe and wonder ignite well-being by ramping up the good feelings that inspire us to interact in a way that is more productive, creative, open. When we wonder instead of worry we actually put ourselves in position to make a difference. When we worry, we just stay stuck in the bad feeling.
Try it this week. See how you feel when you make the shift from worry to wonder. In Wednesday’s post I will offer up some of the things I no longer worry about.
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