Life gives us no shortage of things to worry about. However, learning how to manage one’s worries is a crucial step in achieving a happier life — and in achieving success. So how to go about doing this?
For me, worrying was a way of life for many years. I puzzled over how it could actually be managed, until I came across a passage in the Book of Matthew, when Jesus is giving the Sermon on the Mount. In Chapter 6, at verse 25, Jesus starts telling his listeners to stop worrying about their food and clothes, and ends by telling them to not worry about tomorrow, stating, “Sufficient to the day is the evil thereof”.
In modern parlance, this last phrase means, “Each day has enough trouble of its own”. When I first read this phrase, I was suspicious: How can we not worry about tomorrow? Doesn’t “worrying” help us to be prepared?
The answers lie partly in distinguishing “care” from “worry”. Of course, we should care about tomorrow — we should be prepared, and should prepare ourselves by doing simple things such as saving money, eating healthy, exercising, and living an ethical life. However, when we become emotionally attached to tomorrow, and torture ourselves psychologically about the bad things that can happen, then we are worrying.
One of the biggest problems about worrying is that there is no end. We can turn a subject over again and again in our minds, and get nowhere, lying awake all night and becoming exhausted to face the next day.
The other part of the answer to my questions above lies in Faith. Jesus tells us that one day in itself is enough to occupy the emotional thinking of any man, and that the rest we have to leave up to God. Very often, we allow our fear of the unknown, and our negative thinking, to combine into a force that wears us down, both mentally and physically. Jesus is telling us to not give in to that feeling of fear. As Joel Osteen says, “Fear means using faith in the wrong direction.”
Christ does us a huge favor in this passage, by quantifying the extent to which we should worry. Just the present day — that’s it. And that’s because he also knows that worrying is endless unless we impose restrictions on it.
I offer a sort of corollary to this in my first book, Winning the Fight to Be Happy, where I advise, “Focus on the things you CAN control.” Though I think Jesus goes a step further, by telling us where to stop worrying, to have faith in God’s care for us for tomorrow. To quote Joel Osteen again, “When fear knocks, let Faith answer the door.”
It’s rare in life that we have nothing to be concerned about. But Jesus has taught us how much leeway to give to worry. It’s not much, nor should it be, for we were not born to worry. Life offers us so many great things, that to expend energy in worrying is to use power that can be used in many better ways.
–By Tom McKinley, author of Winning the Fight to Be Happy and Make the Right Decisions Early.
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