on worries and anxieties

August 6, 2016

What are you worried about these days?

Our minds are perpetually getting themselves trapped in different worries or anxieties:

  • "Am I good enough?"
  • "Am I doing a good job at work?"
  • "Am I being a good husband/wife/boyfriend/girlfriend?"
  • "Am I being a good parent?"
  • "Am I making enough money?"
  • "Am I focused on the right things?"
  • "How do I compare to others?"
  • "Am I doing things that matter?"

These fundamental worries get so bad sometimes that we have specific names for them: "mid-life crisis" or the newly popularized "quarter-life" crisis. All of these questions are valid and helpful in small doses, but often, if they occupy a large portion of your thoughts, it's a sign your that mind has been focusing far too much on something you cannot control. Then these concerns cease to be helpful and thought-provoking and instead lead to paralysis or bad decision making.

You will never live a peaceful, worry-free life. That is until you realize that an overactive, anxious, and worried mind is a natural part of your baser self, and your challenge as a (trying to be) self-aware human is to struggle against it and try to overcome it.

The problem you are dwelling on today is not "the problem" in your life, since even if you could completely solve it now and put it behind you, your mind will replace it with another one. The subject of your anxiety is not the obstacle to your happiness. The obstacle is your mind that is untamed. Acknowledge this fact and see these worries and anxieties for what they are: mental waste - byproducts of your mind working; byproducts that, through difficult mental training, should receive no more attention than any other bodily waste. Regular meditation is the only way to achieve this. But like any worthwhile practice, its fruits are at the end of a long and treacherous journey.