Troubleshooting versus Worrying
It’s important to recognize the difference between troubleshooting and worrying. If you want to stay afloat in the uncertain currents of day-to-day life, effective troubleshooting is essential. Worrying, on the other hand, is useless, a self-inflicted injury to mind, body and spirit.
Authentic troubleshooting always results in clear, decisive action. Suppose you discover you might come up short for your car payment next month. Troubleshooting means addressing the issue head-on. You sit down with your boss, ask for an advance on next month’s salary. You get a less expensive car. Or maybe you need more information before you can make a plan. You get out your calendar and you make a note to re-evaluate the situation in one week. Whatever the case, you’re taking direct action. And it’s less important that you take just the right action than it is that you take action. Period. Keep taking action, keep putting one foot in front of the other and, eventually, the problem will resolve.
Worrying is like a cat chasing its tail. You spend a lot of energy running round and round, but you never actually arrive anywhere. Worrying about coming up short on your car payment generates a lot of thoughts. If I lose my car, I won’t be able to get to my job. If I lose my job, I’ll lose my house. I’m an irresponsible person! Why can’t I ever get anything right? So on and so forth. Lots and lots of thinking—very little doing.
Make a pact with yourself: Next time you find yourself lost in worry, try your best to translate that nervous energy into action. Doing something—even if the something later turns out to be a mistake—is better than thinking yourself to death. And if you can’t, or won’t, take direct action, then try to accept the situation as is. Try to make peace with the unknown. Being happy isn’t about solving all your problems. It’s about becoming comfortable with the constant push and pull, the tension and release, that is Life.