Do you want to halve your worries?
And double your happiness?
Silly question, perhaps. Because there’s probably no one alive who wouldn’t want to worry less.
Sometimes it seems there just aren’t enough hours in the day for all the things we have to worry about.
Because worry is a vicious cycle: the more we worry, the more it sets off a chain reaction of more worry.
But what can you do about it?
Well, if you read my previous post, you’d realize that most worries are false – they simple never happen.
And all that time worrying, is time wasted.
And worse that that, it’s happiness wasted.
Because worry is to happiness what pizza/??? is to healthy eating/dieting – one simply can’t exist in the presence of the other.
And at the end of my last post, I promised to tell you exactly how to turn the gruel of worry and negativity into a rich soup of happiness and positivity.
Only I’m not.
Because one mind focused on a problem/solution is great, but 35 are better:)
So to get the best answers, I threw the question out there. I asked great people, people who have found ways to stress less and smile more
And as in previous posts, I added in my own tuppence worth* on their stellar solutions.
Who’d have guessed they’d come back with such a diverse set of strategies for halving their worries and doubling their happiness! And that one or two might even disagree that halving their worries would double their happiness!
But these solutions work for them. And one or more of them will work for you too.
But which ones..?
*An old British expression meaning my opinion on the matter. If you’re American you might say ‘my two cents’ . A ‘tuppence’ used to be worth about as much as two cents, I guess:)
At 3:16 one morning Brendan decided he had to create Start of Happiness. Previously I was convinced that nothing good had ever come out of 3 in the morning, but Brendan proved me wrong!
For Brendan happiness is success in life. At Start of Happiness he helps people make a difference and an income doing what they love. You can even take the Start of Happiness Pledge!
Gratitude. That’s it!
I would practice gratitude on a daily basis.
Why? I used to be a bit of a worrier, always stressing about an upcoming exam, or how I was going to afford a house, or how I was going to manage juggling a thousand tasks. Through my study on happiness the one thing that was ALWAYS consistent was the practice of gratitude. That practicing gratitude and being grateful for things in your life has been PROVEN to increase happiness levels.
So I figured why not give it a go?
And so I started asking myself what I am grateful for today each morning. And now I have been doing this for years and if I’m ever worried about something, I know that simply taking some time out for gratitude will elevate my mood and keep me on track.
My Tuppence Worth
Oh yep! I’m right with Brendan on this. Focusing on even one thing I’m grateful for really helps take my focus off a worry. But you know sometimes situations are really tricky or dauntingly new or properly scary and then I find gratitude alone doesn’t always move me out of that worry space.
So… I start with a skill or experience I can be grateful for that will help me take action towards feeling less worried.
Simple example, I was invited to be the guest speaker at what was a much bigger event than I had spoken at before. And there were going to be Questions and Lunch after – eeeeek!
My worry generator got super juicy, whispering all kinds of nonsense in my thoughts. How could I hope to be entertaining and interesting and a million other things all at once? Help! Why did I say yes?!
Then I looked for a skill and an experience I could be grateful for: I’m a writer and ideas are my business (skill) and I’ve spoken a few times before and been asked back (positive experience).
So I wrote out a list of ideas for chatty conversational topics and added all the speaking techniques that had got me repeat invites before. Worries be gone… mostly 🙂
Are you’re filled with a thirst for following your passion? For making a difference and being among other awesome people?
Then visit Chelsea and her team at Live Your Legend and let them light the touch paper on your incredible future life.
Focus on what you do have rather than what you don’t!
We always always have something (often many things) to be grateful for. Focus on that and you become free. 🙂
My Tuppence Worth
That’s a great way to switch out of negative thinking and into a positive train of thought instead. I find myself tidying and organizing if I ever hit a worry patch about what I feel I need – even if that is more skill or experience in something.
Putting what I have physically into order seems to put my thoughts back into perspective. It allows me to see a way forward. (On another positive, the house looks way neater too 🙂 )
Free! What a delicious word. Free from worry, even temporarily is a blissful state. Happiness skyrockets!
As an enthusiastic student of the arts, psychology, and spirituality, at Purpose Fairy Luminita take great pleasure in shining light on life’s hidden truth. The paradoxes that both stare us in the face and hide from us in unison, as they silently shape our every waking moment.
Luminita believes happiness is not just our birthright, it’s also a skill that anyone can learn to cultivate, to not only survive but thrive. She has also written one of the most viral posts on happiness on the internet and written a wonderful book based on the post – 15 Things You Should Give Up To Be Happy.
I have come to realize that there is no way we can run from life’s many challenges. There’s nothing we can do to avoid the many downs of life.
But through Acceptance and Surrender, we can allow all of these “unpleasant” experiences and interactions to mold us and to shape us into better human beings.
So for me, Acceptance and Surrender are key. Accept what is, and surrender your doubts, your fears, your worries and insecurities to life itself.
Because believe it or not, there is a natural course that life needs to follow, and if you resist it by trying to control all life on your own, you will continue to struggle and your worries, fear, and insecurities will seem so much bigger to you than you yourself are.
Accept and Surrender…
My Tuppence Worth
I fully appreciate Luminita’s very positive outlook that stuff’s going to happen – no sense fighting it. That’s going to be a whole heap of wasted energy!
Perhaps it’s a UK thing but Brits don’t use ‘acceptance’ much in their vocabulary. We’re more likely to say ‘take it on the chin’ or ‘chin up’ (very odd that we see that particular body part as being linked to accepting our situation!) Same acceptance idea, in an oddly-worded form.
I’ll be totally honest, I’m not a fan of surrender, not in the way that the word strikes me. I’m all up for not fighting a situation but I move out of a worried state of mind by going straight from ‘Okay, it’s happened’ to ‘What can I do about it’.
But I know that to many people, I’ve missed out a critical step in what works for them. How about you? Add your tuppence worth in the comments.
Sid loves to make things happen. He’s a life-long learner and at Sid Savara he shares that learning. Over the past decade he has helped thousands of people improve their lives.
Sid’s articles are the epitome of clear, actionable advice. He’s been cited and mentioned on CBS, Inc., Time Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fortune and The Washington Post.
For me personally, I try to keep in mind what is in my control and what is out of my control.
I try to then see what I can do to improve my life, and how I spend my time in ways that make me happy – and try to focus on that.
So for example, if there is traffic, or the weather is bad, or something has happened out of my control that makes it so I cannot go to the beach, or I cannot see my friends, or I cannot go workout – rather than focusing on those things happening outside, I ask myself what can I do in my own life instead that I DO have control over.
Maybe bad weather means it’s time for a movie night instead. Or maybe instead of going out with my friends, we’ll stay in and eat dinner at home.
A quote I like a lot and I think about often is “Better to light a candle than curse the darkness” – we don’t have control over every possible thing that can happen to us, but we do have some amount of control of what WE choose to do day to day.
My Tuppence Worth
Focusing on what we are in control is such a powerful way to move away from a state of worry and towards happiness. I always remind myself that happiness is one of the few things within my control – we can choose how to look at and react to situations… but hey, some days we’re just human and that’s too big a leap.
That’s when I call on the wonderfully witty Mark Twain “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened”. Or the hilariously insightful Dr Seuss “If things start happening, don’t worry, don’t stew, just go right along and you’ll start happening too.”
I’ve added Sid’s great quote to the front of my notebook too – love the positive action approach.
Steve has been running Planet of Success since 2010. In that time he has built a community designed to inspire you to live a successful life full of joy, meaning and happiness.
It’s the place to meet like-minded people, discover unique strategies to live a successful life and to share your own ideas about being successful in life.
It all comes down to changing one thing in life to reduce worries and increase happiness my choice is minimalism.
By spending less on useless and unnecessary things and objects, you no longer have need to learn so much money.
In short, you can work less and spend more of your time doing the things you actually like.
My Tuppence Worth
Oh, such a great way to look at worries – from the root cause up. Sure stepping across to a minimalist lifestyle and mindset isn’t a cure all for worry. But, I totally agree with Steve!
Mark and I are confirmed minimalists (although we did buy a new wine glass recently – sharing one after I smashed one half of our entire glassware collection against the kitchen tiles got kind of dull! )
If minimalism works for you, or you fancy giving it a go, you could find it a super effective way to halve your worries and double your happiness in certain areas of life.
If you’re looking for inspiration to regain control of your life, to make a positive change or to find and focus on what really matters to you, visit Dani at Positively Present.
Dani’s genuine warmth and honesty shines through in everything she writes.
If given the opportunity to do only one thing in my life to halve my worries and double my happiness, it would be mastering the art of staying truly present.
It’s something I work on constantly, but it’s a hard skill to master!
When you’re fully in the moment, focused on what’s front of you (bonus points if you can focus through a lens of gratitude!), worries lessen considerably.
And as a result of fewer worries, happy experiences often increase.
My Tuppence Worth
Well said Dani! I’m always delighted when experts acknowledge that a solution isn’t necessarily easy. Staying present when our thoughts have gone on a ‘worry walk’ or even a ‘worry marathon’ can be super tricky.
I find that changing my physical situation really helps – nothing more complicated than moving to a different room or going outside if I’m inside. If it’s 2am and it’s raining outside (bleuugh), waking our dog up and asking for a cuddle works well too.
Anthony Metivier is the founder of Self Improvement Supercharger as well as the acclaimed Magnetic Memory Method, a systematic, 21st Century approach to memorizing foreign language vocabulary, dreams, names, music, poetry in ways that are easy, elegant, effective and fun.
Anthony has packed more academic learning and diverse life experiences into his years so far than most people can manage in several lifetimes. And he has one of the most inquiring minds I know.
Halve my worries? How about eliminating them?
I’m not entirely there yet (or not there, as the case may be!) … but it turns out you can “decouple” your being from your ego using meditation. The science supporting this possibility is sound too. So sound that it makes using meditation a no-brainer.
Meditation works because it lets you turn off one default mode of the brain and switch on another. Let’s call it the “now default mode.”
“Being in the now,” as annoying and cliche as the term strikes some people, still creates enormous benefits. Get on the path and “doubling happiness” won’t be the goal. It will be the reality.
And those worries?
Again, I’m not 100% there yet, but it’s astounding how the fangs of worry have been dulled. I’m happily predicting, based on hard science, that with enough consistent practice, consistently applied … those fangs will soon fall completely away.
My Tuppence Worth
Ready to defeat the ‘fangs of worry’ with meditation? How about having ‘happy’ as your default mode? That was a chorus of ‘Heck, yeah’ web wide!
Hands up, I haven’t found myself called over to the mediation side… and yet many of my good friends and work associates find genuine comfort and peace from their regular meditation practice.
Self memo: it’s time to take a fresh look at meditation! It’s crazy, but I know why I don’t hear meditation calling to me. Locked deep down in my thoughts somewhere is a set and slightly blinkered image of what it is and who does it. And obviously my subconscious image doesn’t see that it has anything to do with me.
Wake up call! How about you, have you found meditation stops the fangs of worry sinking into your thoughts?
Elle believes we can do amazing things and live amazing lives when we all come together. Her mission at Live Purposefully Now is to enhance your world in more ways than you could imagine.
Elle is determined to show you how gifted you already are, how talented you truly are and share with you tools and ideas that you can easily use right here and now to live the life you dream of.
Worry is like a weed…it pretty much takes over anywhere it can plant it’s little seeds. And I had a mind filled with worries, there were new seedlings…some worries were well grown and others had become gigantic. The garden of my mind was overgrown with worry weeds and it wasn’t a pretty sight.
I was 20 and worry was a natural state of mind. I could worry about anything and everything and I did.
Apart from the permanent crease that was forming in my forehead I began to have anxiety attacks. Physical experiences that left me shaken and even more worried.
I knew something had to be done before I became really sick, so I came up with a plan. Instead of worrying all day, every day, I was going to set up a worry half hour. During which time I could sit and focus on every worry to my worrying heart’s content.
3pm was the allotted time.
Day one, when the first worry popped up, I explained that the rules had changed. We now had a worry half hour set up so I couldn’t get caught up in the worry right now. Amazingly it worked, the worry disappeared. When the second and third worry showed up, same thing happened.
Then came the witching hour of 3pm. I closed my eyes and let the worries flow. BUT…I didn’t have enough of them to fill half an hour. Which was strange because I was used to worrying most of the day.
I learned that not only did I not really have a million worries, which is what it felt like most days, I actually had less than five, it was just that they were repeating themselves over and over.
As the first week of my worry half hour rolled along, it felt strange. Something that had taken up a huge space in my life had gone and there was a huge vacuum. So I deliberately filled it with thoughts that felt happy. Any thought at all that brought a happy feeling to my heart was welcome.
It’s a simple technique that truly works. So for any chronic worriers I highly recommend you experiment with a worry half hour or fifteen minutes…or whatever time works for you. It changed my life.
My Tuppence Worth
Thank you Elle, that’s an incredibly powerful strategy that I haven’t heard of before! I love the real-life aspect of this approach. Instead of stressing out trying to stop worrying, which could be a huge challenge if worry has been a long and consistent companion, give it an allotted time.
Interesting too that the number of worries Elle actually had was so much less than she thought she had.
Have you ever thought about what worries actually are? I’ll confess, I hadn’t much until recently. But I’ve realized, worries are simply thoughts wrapped in emotion. If I’m hungry but the fridge is empty, I think ‘ooh, best pop to the shops’ – no emotion, just logical thought leading to positive action.
But if I break down in the car alone and in the dark, I think ‘Aggh! I’m done for! No chance of making it out alive.’ Thoughts now suffocated by negative emotion!
Kelly spends her days writing, designing and most importantly spending quality with her family. She also helps thousands of others to avoid overwhelm and burnout. Kelly shares her wisdom on how to live a less frantic life at her blog.
If you need inspiration check out her book: Practical Perfection – Smart Strategies For An Excellent Life
In the past I used to plan for the future, and live there too.
I used to obsess constantly about what ‘might’ happen, trying to predict how people might react to things and having conversations with them in my head ahead of time so I was ‘ready’ for when the real conversation happened.
What I found was, the bad things (and conversations) I put contingencies in place for never happened. I was wasting so much time and energy worrying about those things!
These days I plan for the future but live in the moment. I’m better at taking life as it is, rather than how I think it ‘should’ be. This approach has absolutely halved my worries and doubled my happiness
My Tuppence Worth
I’m so delighted you’ve found a solution that is so effective for you, Kelly! Those planning for contingency conversations are so tiring… because they’re endless. The more we try to cover every eventuality, the more eventualities our worries manage to conjure up.
What an insightful perspective – that we worry because we have an idea of how life ‘should’ be and so often find it lacking. Going with the flow more often isn’t always easy but I guess we’ve come back to Luminita’s great outlook of ‘accepting’ a situation. I’ve definitely found that railing against anything simply pushes my blood pressure over the bar! Saying ‘Okay, this is where we are. Now, what can I do’ does indeed double my happiness – I feel happy that I’m taking steps.
Blaz Kos is on a mission to help you become the best version of yourself and live an extraordinary life. On his site, Agile Lean Life, he applies data-driven personal development tactics so you can develop your core life strategy and superior decision-making system.
Blaz uses a completely new approach for making key life decisions which is a quantum leap from traditional “fast-result” personal development ideas and misleading one-sided views to a more holistic, scientific and systematic body of knowledge and tools.
Actually, there are two things I would do.
First of all, worry and happiness levels are greatly dependent on the quality of our thoughts. You can’t live a happy and positive life with a negative mind.
The problem is that you can’t just force yourself to think positive. You have to learn how to identify negative thoughts and disarm your inner critic. There are several crucial cognitive tools to achieve that.
As the first step, you need to learn to identify negative thoughts. We know 10 major types of negative thoughts, also called cognitive distortions: all-or-nothing thinking, overgeneralization, mental filtering, discounting the positives, jumping to conclusions, magnifying the negative and minimizing the positive, emotional reasoning, should statements, labeling and self-labeling, blame, and personalization.
When you become aware of the forms in which negative thinking occurs, the next step is to count them.
The exercise is called mental biofeedback, and its goal is simply to become aware of how many negative thoughts pop up in your head every day and to connect how they arouse negative emotions in you. By counting the negative thoughts, you finally become aware of the extensive damage that negative thinking does.
Since negative thoughts come from your inner critic (internalized voice of over‑demanding parents), the final step is to disarm the inner critic. That can be done with emotional accounting and thought stopping.
The main goal of thought stopping is to simply say “No!” to your inner critic when you’re under attack. You stop your negative mind (a negative thought) and focus on the bright sides.
And the main point of emotional accounting is to practice talking back to your inner critic, with the goal of developing a more realistic self-evaluation system of situations that cause negative thoughts.
With emotional accounting, you simply perform an act of self-defense, a rational response to a negative thought. An example of defending yourself from the negative thought “I never do anything right” (overgeneralization) would be “There are many things I do right, for example …”.
Managing your mind is only one part of the happiness equation … The other part are healthy, constructive and supportive relationships. You can only be as happy and worry-free as the quality of your relationships. The first step to improving your relationships is to understand different attachment styles. You can have a secure, anxious or avoidant attachment style.
Possessing the avoidant attachment style leads to you running away from real closeness. Every interaction in a relationship becomes a negotiation for personal space.
On the other hand, the anxious attachment style leads to you being very needy and insecure in relationships. In both cases, you can’t be very happy, because your capacity for love is quite low, and your relationship demands are unrealistic.
The best way to improve your attachment style is to first identify what kind of a style you have, and then strive to experience a close relationship with someone who has a secure attachment style.
It can be your intimate partner, a therapist or a safe person. By experiencing the secure attachment style, you get a new blueprint (at least to some extent) on how to act better in personal relationships.
Based on the new blueprint, you can dramatically improve all your relationships. You can understand what kind of an attachment style other people have, and consequently how to meet their relationship needs more easily.
You have the capacity to get closer to people, without being afraid of getting hurt. And the closer you are to people, and the greater capacity for love you have, the richer your life is.
These two are not quick fixes, but in the long term they absolutely lead to real improvement in personal happiness and to lower anxiety levels.
My Tuppence Worth
Wow, what superbly clear and detailed strategies to halve our worries and double our happiness, Blaz – thank you. I found your breakdown of the different types of negative thinking particularly interesting. I haven’t spent much time identifying the separate types until now.
Strange that we need to work on our self-defense… against our self! Those pesky negative thoughts can be so consuming that to be armed and ready is essential. I have an easy one that works for me ‘So what, you did your best’ – this gets me back to happy as quickly as possible no matter how badly I’ve stuffed up 🙂
Mandy has come a long way since her teens/twenties when she was emotionally ‘all-over-the-place’ and very insecure.
Now a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist. Accreditation with the BABCP pending. (British Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies) Mandy runs her own private practice and in between blogs On Thought Of Life And Love
If I could do only one thing to halve my worries and anxiety it would be this: To not take my thoughts so seriously.
It’s not what happens to us that freaks us out, it’s the meaning we give to it. I love the saying, “When you are in your head, you are in enemy territory” and I think this is very true.
We make assumptions, we think we know what others are thinking, we compare ourselves to others with little evidence of what is really going on and we worry about things that might never happen – all forms of ‘mental torture’.
I like to separate my thoughts from reality and see them as separate. Thoughts aren’t facts. This helps me feel less worried and anxious.
My Tuppence Worth
Two incredible insights here, thank you Mandy. That our heads can be enemy territory is intriguing, and crazy but true! Surely we missed a trick in evolutionary terms there.
And to remind ourselves that our thoughts aren’t facts is genius.
I do sometimes ask myself ‘Can you back that up?’ when worry strikes – the answer is invariably ‘nope, not in any way’. No evidence, no basis for worry – there’s my new mantra 🙂
With six blogs of her own and published contributions across the web, Vidya writes to collect smiles and donate to charities. And I defy you to visit her blog without smiling!
At Vidya Sury and her other blogs, Vidya shares stories about all the things she enjoys in life; parenting, mindful living, conversations, coffee, books, food, music, health, DIY, travel, photography and showing her diabetes who’s boss. She wants to know: Did you smile today?
My answer has to be self-care.
Of course, the one thing I would like is to wave a magic wand at my diabetes and make it disappear, thereby eliminating a whole lot of worries and gallop towards happiness. But my wishes are celestial horses, so I’ll settle for the next best thing.
So that one thing would be to focus on self-care. Here’s what I need to do: Manage my time better, so that I have time to eat well, get enough sleep, exercise regularly.
I do all these things, but I often cheat on sleep. And we all know what a lack of sleep can do to the body, especially when diabetes already resides there. Not taking care of oneself simply opens the door to that F word, Fear (uh, not what you were thinking!).
Fear of falling sick just when you need to be present for all the good things–travel, celebrations, being there to see your children’s successes, doing the things you dream of doing–and mainly–being independent and healthy.
Living with any health condition is tough, but diabetes is a real meanie, as it causes a whole lot of complications that can easily be avoided with conscious self-care.
This means I must learn to say NO to all the things and people who do not enrich my life in some way
- NOT take up work that doesn’t bring joy
- NOT get into a rut of doing things mechanically (bathing, brushing teeth don’t count, haha)
Staying stress-free by doing the things that make me happy, in turn enabling me to chase my dreams. I dream of making a difference in as many children’s lives as I can, for as long as I live. To achieve this, I must stay healthy.
My Tuppence Worth
Such a fresh perspective, Vidya – we’re so delighted that self-care is so high on your agenda! And thank you for sharing your own potential for worry with your health condition. We’ve talked a lot so far in this post about hypothetical worries but we can arm ourselves against the consequences of real worries too.
Having a goal that encourages the action we need to take to keep our worries at bay is super effective. Like Vidya’s desire to make a significant difference for as many children as possible – what better incentive to make time for those all-important, and worry-defeating self-care routines.
I have always found that my worries halve or quarter when I am on a mission – even if that mission itself brings the opportunity for more situations that could be worry-makers.
Stephen teaches personal development using data and analytics. He’s spent most of his life tracking data, reading statistics, and reaching personal goals. It’s his lifelong passion to help others reach their goals.
He writes about his discoveries at Thoughtful Growth, and loves hearing success stories from his readers!
When my worries are building and I grow unhappy, it’s almost always because I feel overwhelmed.
The best solution I’ve found is to write a list of everything I’m worried about. Maybe it’s a bunch of unfinished projects, a stuffed email inbox, too many skipped workout sessions—or all the above.
Next, I take a small action step for each item on my list. I’ll schedule my upcoming projects, archive spam emails, and take a 10-minute walk.
An hour or so later, I’ve made progress on everything and I feel back in control of my life. My happiness skyrockets, my stress melts away, and I’m motivated to keep going!
My Tuppence Worth
Oh, the power of positive action – superb! I love the simplicity of picking a few elements where you can really make a significant difference in a short space of time.
If you can identify your ‘worry triggers’ like overwhelm for Stephen, you’re already halfway to happy because you can take every opportunity to avoid the situation. And where you hit the unavoidable, you can be prepared with a pull-out-of-the-bag strategy like Stephen’s list-writing (and task ticking off).
Ben Fishel is a writer and co-creator of Project Monkey Mind, where he helps solopreneurs and young professionals take control of their minds, smash through their limitations, and lead a life worth living. If you’d like to improve your productivity and well-being. Grab his free eBook: MORNING MASTERY: The Simple 20 Minute Routine For Longer Lasting Energy, Laser-Sharp Focus, and Stress-Free Living.
Oooh that’s a tough one.
I’m going to cheat a little bit here and say a nondual meditation practice (along the lines of Rupert Spira, Mooji, Eckhart Tolle, Adyashanti), that included journaling as a key component.
So making sure I spend 5 minutes of my meditation time, either before or after, to journal about my thoughts, feelings, ideas and overall experience as I practice meditation and self-enquiry.
If I had to choose between either strictly meditating or journaling, I would say for those that have the time and willpower, meditation has to come first.
But for those who can’t do so consistently for whatever reason, journaling just 5 minutes a day can help untangle worries and concerns. Check out Ken Wilber’s 3-2-1 Shadow Process or look for a Gratitude Journal template for some ideas of practices you can do.
My Tuppence Worth
Another strong vote for mediation… really, there must be something in it 🙂
Journaling is also a super effective way for many people to capture their worries and release them onto paper. I love Ben’s description of ‘untangling our worries’ because oh boy, do those negative thoughts get caught up in a mess sometimes. The conscious and mechanical action of writing is an effective thought untangler.
Dragos is the real deal. One of those people who has done and experienced so much in his lifetime you figure that he has to be like a gazillion years old. In fact he isn’t. Nothing like.
And in between teaching people how to start, run and succeed at business at Dragos Roua, Dragos somehow finds the time to teach tango, run ultra-marathons and be a proud father. I think I need to lie down…
And by meditation I don’t mean candles, incense, colorful, exotic clothing and mumbling untranslatable mantras, but the daily chore of being aware of what’s happening to you and where your mind is trying to get you.
We’re creatures of habit, we live and think by the habit, to such an extent that we don’t even realize it anymore. But even the words “worry” and “happiness” are carrying some meaning because we habituated our minds to that meaning.
If we start a process in which we switch the meaning, in a few weeks “worry” will mean happiness and “happiness” will mean worry.That’s how powerful our mind is.
Meditation, as a form of “mind martial art” (not “mind spa”) will help us identify the habits that are carrying us away from what gives us fulfillment and joy and it will also help us in create habits that will bring us closer to fulfillment and joy.”
My Tuppence Worth
Ah, now here’s an alternative approach – love it, Dragos. Meditation as a form of ‘mind martial-art’, intriguing and exciting! Knowing how powerful our minds are doesn’t always seem to help us harness that power… which is rude, frankly 😉 This perspective has really got me thinking.
But having the ability to switch happiness and worry, oh brain frazzle time! Surely, we’d keep our meaning of happiness and just switch out the meaning of worry – to another definition that sounded suspiciously like happiness – hey, you’ve double your happiness right there.
Daree Allen’s heart is with helping people. She does this through sharing her and other people’s stories on her wonderful podcast, Kickin It With Daree.
Daree is passionate about helping kids have a better future and talks to them about self-esteem, personal development and media influence.
Let go of where you THINK you should be in your life, and accept where you actually are.
You can always make changes to improve your life and well-being starting NOW, but you must FIRST let go of what you cannot change.
My Tuppence Worth
Now, here’s a powerful perspective from Daree. Letting go of what we can’t change. I think it’s fine to be human and wish it was different… for a few minutes.
I allow myself a 5 minute whingefest when life goes wonky – a proper ‘Waah! Why us? Why now?’….wail, whine, whimper. Then, just as Daree says, it’s time to take action.
Reality note: it’s likely that whimpering for a bit longer seems more attractive but the positive power of taking even a small step is extraordinary! Nothing stops my worries faster in their negative tracks than showing myself I’m more in control than they’d have me believe.
Paige created Simple Mindfulness to support you in new, mindful ways of being that will allow you to live a happier and more fulfilled life. Paige’s goal at Simple Mindfulness is to guide you along the path that she’s taken and save some of your precious time and life energy on your quest to being truly happy.
Paige hopes that by being very transparent with her life and mistakes (i.e. learning experiences), she can support you in your journey to higher levels of happiness and fulfillment in your life.
Being present is key.
Whenever I worry, stress or feel anxious about something, I remind myself that all of these feelings are the same: fear of a negative future outcome that’s highly unlikely.
When I’m feeling this, I stop, close my eyes and take three deep breaths to bring my racing mind back into the present. I slowly say, “Be here now.” Then I notice that everything is perfectly fine right here, right now. I’m safe, things are good and everything is just fine.
With that clarity of mind, I can more objectively examine whatever I was worried about. If it’s something I can control, I come up with an action plan to create a good outcome. If it’s not something I can control, I release my worries because I know they’ll have no impact on the situation.
And, finally, I think about something I’m grateful for in the moment.
My Tuppence Worth
Getting back to the present takes different forms for different people. Breathing is a great way but I find that thumping music really hits my ‘being present’ spot.
Funny how we can often naturally use strategies without even understanding they are a strategy, one with a fancy title too possibly.
Like having a mantra that you don’t even have to think of as a mantra – ‘I’m safe right now’. A simple statement that closes the door on your worries and opens it right up for happiness.
Zeenat describes her blog, Positive Provocations, as her ‘little piece of Heaven’. In it Zeenat strives for a happier, more loving and positive world.
She shares her heart and soul and all that she knows to help motivate and inspire you to be the best and happiest you – sounds familiar!
Relax! I would relax more. Often in my busy life, I forget how important some down time can be.
While I love my work and my life and all the busyness that comes with it, I often get caught up and forget to give myself some much needed relaxation.
Recently, I realized that I was working way too hard and was actually reaching a point of burn out. I knew it was a wake up call for me to just relax and slow it down a bit. So, in true ‘taking life by the horns style’ I restarted my immersive power yoga practice.
An hour of yoga, with prayer and meditation everyday before I begin my busy day, is just what I needed to simply Relax and reduce my worries and truly enjoy the Happiness that life has to offer me everyday.
We often let the stresses get to us which has a debilitating effect on our happiness. Hence, relaxing with a bit of self care, can go a long way to keep the happy vibes high. When I begin my day with this relaxed high, the whole day passes in that same relaxing high mode. Amazing right?!
My Tuppence Worth
Absolutely, amazing! If you can end the day feeling as good as you started it, you’ve got happiness nailed. Again, Zeenat takes a very proactive approach to making that happen.
Like Stephen’s overwhelm, ‘burn out’ is another breeding ground for worries to flourish. When we’re exhausted, logical thought doesn’t feature. Those negative thoughts have totally got the jump on us. Staying fresh and energized are great weapons against worry.
When I need to chill my brain and get back to happy, I watch a movie I’ve seen a thousand times… and that’s not much of an exaggeration. 🙂 (Mark’s on a Ghostbuster’s run at the moment – great fun!).
Leanne helps creative people bust the myth that they need to starve in a garret. Instead, at Make Creativity Pay she shows them tips & strategies designed to help them make a good income doing what they love.
As well as being a talented writer, Leanne is also a musician, so she knows first hand what it takes to make your dream pay.
If you could only do ONE thing in your own life to Halve Your Worries & Double Your Happiness, what would it be?
My one thing right now is to make more room for fun in my life. That means I have to get – and allow – people to help me.
I’m an entrepreneur. Not everyone reading this will be in the same boat, but we’ve all got stress and responsibilities. I think it’s important to realize (especially as women) that we can’t do it all and it’s silly to try.
When I try to do it all, I end up working all the time and not taking time to enjoy the good things in life every day. But I’m so much more productive, useful, and happy when I take daily time out.
So I’m working on getting more support for admin tasks, household tasks, you name it. Whatever can help me concentrate on my most important priorities and leave space every day for fun.
It’s a little scary and nerve wracking, but every little bit helps!
My Tuppence Worth
Not having enough fun is a huge worry trigger – we’re delighted you’re working on redressing the balance, Leanne. Everyone’s life has opportunities for worry, no matter how different they are to anything we recognize.
But fun, that’s a universal weapon against worry. And of course, it goes quite well with happiness too 🙂 I’m with Dr Seuss “If you never did you should. These things are fun and fun is good.”
Enter your text here…
Getting help when life gets too busy, too demanding, too… pretty much anything – that’s a very powerful strategy. It’s one I need to practice more for sure 🙂
Stefany is on a mission to help people stay positive and happy on their life journey. She believes that positivity is a choice. One we have to make every day.
Her sole purpose at Gems Of Happiness is to write for people that are seeking to get back that everlasting joy and happiness and enjoy life, the world around us and everything this beautiful earth has to offer. Amen to that!
There was a time in my life when worrying took up most of my time.
Actually most of my teenage and early twenties I spent worrying about utterly stupid things like not failing my exams, make it work with my lover, finding the perfect job, make my family proud etc. I was living a life of constant anxiety.
Back then I did not understand that all that worrying I was doing was not going to save my relationship or my job because my relationship ended and I got fired from that job anyway. My life was not going as planned and of course, my anxiety soared.
Instead of taking a much-needed break, I went on and made several (life) plans that all failed no matter how hard I tried.
You know when life is beating you down constantly at a certain point you’ll want to give up. And I did, I gave up and beautiful things started to happen. It’s like the universe wanted me to go right but I wanted to go left.
I had nothing to worry about anymore because all my plans were failed anyway. But, I started to notice all the beauty around me and all the people that could help me.
I learned that worrying will only sabotage your life, dreams, and happiness. Instead of worrying I chose to approach life optimistically, be as open minded as possible and trust my journey.
Having an optimistic, stress-free look on life was all I needed. So if there is something that would do to increase my happiness and decrease my worries it would definitely be an open mind and a positive outlook on life.
My Tuppence Worth
Ironic almost, that so often our teens and twenties are touted as the ‘care-free’ years and yet like Stefany, many people find they are decades filled with worries. I’ve found there is a fine-ish line between ploughing on and taking action and stepping back and asking what the heck I thought I was doing!
I think it’s something to do with learning lessons about life 🙂 But how impatient do we want to be about that. We don’t want to learn, we want to know!
Optimism and open-mindedness are two great additions to the perspectives our experts have shared here. Consciously thinking optimistically can knock worries to the floor but I’ve found that takes practice and patience – yuk, my two least favorite things.
Openinded thinking brings us back to Kelly’s approach too – of giving up what ideas of what life ‘should’ be like. No one gave you a manual when you popped into this world, so why think I ‘should’ know how it works?!
You know how people feel stressed, fatigued, and overwhelmed —and they have no idea how to sift through all the health advice to help them feel better?
Well, Jessica uses yoga, Ayurveda and nutrition to fix the root causes of their problems, so they get fit, and feel calm and energized. “Click here to discover 5 Simple Stress-Busting Techniques You Can Try Today.
Our worries originate from events that could happen. Worrying about hypothetical mishaps doesn’t change anything: worrying makes us unhappy. When we’re lost in our thoughts, we’re disconnected from what’s happening right now. We tend to be unhappier, depressed and anxious when we’re absent from the present moment.
To reconnect, get present, and put your worries back in their place, you need to get back into your body. It might sound simplistic or weird, but when you connect with your physical body, you’ll move from your head to reality. Your body and mind are connected, but we sometimes lose sight and become ‘walking ‘heads with little connection to the present.
We all possess the most effective tool for reuniting our mind and body and returning to reality. Ready? It’s your breath. Your breathing will harness your mind and bring it back to the present tense.
I’ve used this technique to help hundreds of worried and anxious people of all types — veterans with PTSD, yoga students, moms-to-be, therapists, and seniors.
You can practice sitting, standing, or laying down.
Close your eyes, feel your breath coming through your nose, and trace its path to your lungs. Feel what’s happening. Watch your mind with active curiosity. Observe your breath.
Feel what’s connecting you to the earth. Allow yourself to root down and allow your head to lengthen up from your neck and shoulders. Without trying to change anything, simply focus on your breath. Focus without following your thoughts, just notice what appears and let your thoughts blow away like clouds. Blow your thoughts away with your exhale. Continue for five minutes.
When you stop, your worries diminish and you’ll feel clear, calm and happy.
My Tuppence Worth
What a beautifully clear explanation of the simplest way to get out of our head and into our body when worry strikes – thanks Jessica. I love the ‘walking heads’ description!
Worry has a mean knack of creating those hypothetical worries ‘Supposing X…’ or ‘If X happens…’ only it’s often even more sneaky than that and paints such a real picture it doesn’t feel hypothetical, but horribly real!
You might have guessed that I find quotes can have a magic wand effect on my thoughts? You’re right! And if those 2am haven’t-actually-happened worries hit, I remember Charles M. Shultz “Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It is already tomorrow in Australia.” 🙂
Bastiaan believes life is a journey and he wants to walk alongside you on that journey, and help you discover a meaningful and happy life – one step at a time.
Bastiaan and Chantalle’s site, Want 2 Discover is aimed at giving you practical tips and new insights into life’s most common challenges.– feel happier and more positive, let go of negative feelings and experience and live a more simple and balanced life.
I strongly believe that being humble is the one thing I can do to halve my worries and double my happiness.
As you might know, being humble is the opposite of being proud. Pride can be a real poison in your life. If you allow it to take over it has the potential to ruin your relationships and cloud your mind. This quote by John R.W. Stott sums it up perfectly:
“Pride is your greatest enemy, humility your greatest friend”
In my daily life I notice that a lot of conflicts and arguments stem from me being proud. Lately I really try to challenge myself to be more humble. It’s hard at times because a proud mindset kind of becomes a habit.
But when I do manage to be humble, I can notice a very big difference. I have more clarity in my life, my relationships flourish and I have more peace of mind.
So be humble, it’s one of the most beneficial things you can do for yourself!
My Tuppence Worth
Another super fresh perspective, thanks Bastiaan. I’ve seen time and again that taking the importance out of situations can defeat worry. And that placing less importance on ourselves might work in a similar way.
Mind you, I do giggle at Oscar Wilde’s advice ” Never love anyone who treats you like you’re ordinary.” 🙂
Tia’s enthusiasm, energy and sheer joie de vivre bubble out on every page of her blog. She calls herself the ‘Princess of Sparkle’ and ‘Curator of Awesome’ and with good reason.
At Your Life Your Way she dispenses inspiration & advice to grow your courage and confidence so you can sparkle from the inside out & live the life you want – not the life you “SHOULD”.
Two big issues I face are indecisiveness and second guessing.
It takes me forever to choose – whether it’s choosing a course of action, new furniture, saying yes or no to an event – anything that requires a not-so-easy decision! Getting caught up in the pros and cons is a huge time suck 99% of the time.
So I’m working on:
- going by gut feel
- Making a decision and sticking to it
- Releasing the what ifs and if onlys, by telling myself that whatever I choose is perfect in that moment.
Even if it all goes South, it’s a live n’ learn moment at the very least. And that, my friend, brings a modicum of peace and acceptance that allows me to be happier on any given day 🙂
My Tuppence Worth
Isn’t it great when we learn a whole new skill by getting away from a habit we don’t enjoy. Worrying about the consequences defeated by making on-the-spot decision. You’ll be the Queen of Decision soon. Tia!
True though that the fear of getting something ‘wrong’ can bring on a truck load of worries so strong that we fail to act at all… and then there’s the lack of action to worry about (bleuuugh!). Best defeat the worry cycle head on by going straight to the root causes, just as Tia shows here. I’m swapping ‘What if’ for ‘So what, I tried.’
Quinn, an author ans award winning writer, knows firsthand just how troublesome and challenging it can be to deal with anxiety and panic. At Outsmarting Panic And Anxiety she provides methods and techniques to help people reclaim their power from these two tyrants.
You can pick-up a free preview of her latest guide book, Your Stress-Free Future Starts Now! by clicking here.
You have the most responsibility toward the person you have the most power over: your future self. Dr. Rick Hanson
This is how you implement that responsibility: You focus on yourself and consciously take action to change your state of mind to one that serves you.
In other words, you turn your attention from what’s happening in the outer world, focus on your reactions/feelings and the state-of-mind you’re in, and take one or more predefined steps to change your state-of-mind from a negative bias, to a neutral state or even a happier state.
In order to make that happen, you need a vehicle to help you change your state of mind. One that I find works well and use all the time is called the Multi-Purpose Breath Technique.
Begin by identifying one or two words that describe how you’re feeling. Then describe the state of mind you want to experience.
Example: feeling stressed but wanting to feel calm.
Next, bring your attention to your breath. Breathe in and out slowly a few times, and then with the in-breath say to yourself, “I am breathing in calmness.”
With your out-breath, say, “I am breathing out worries.” or “I’m breathing out stress.” Or “I’m breathing out worries and stress.”
Repeat the sequence until you feel your body relax and your mind calm. Some days it will be easy to achieve the change you want, but at other times you may have to work hard at making it happen.
This technique works because you’re not fighting yourself and creating a conflict between how you feel and how you think you should feel, or want to feel. You’re not telling yourself you feel calm when you’re not. Instead, you’re acknowledging how you feel and then taking conscious action to change that feeling.
When you breathe in the feeling you want to experience, you’re doing a positive behavior that you control. You’re taking control over what you want to feel and experience. Do this practice multiple times a day and you will have developed a powerful way to halve your worries and double your happiness.
Here are a few more ways you can use this technique.
- Build confidence (breathe in confidence/breathe out insecurity),
- Increase mental clarity (breathe in clarity/breathe out confusion)
- Increase self-esteem (breathe in love or loving kindness/breathe out self-criticism
- Increase well-being (breathe in positivity/breathe out negativity)
- Build resolve (breathe in taking positive action on X so Y can happen, breathe out procrastination, doubts, fears, etc.)
My Tuppence Worth
I’m all up for stepping out the door each morning, armed with predetermined steps for combating worries. And this breathing technique (so clearly explained, thank you Quinn) is one you can carry with you anyway – perfect!
Those conscious choices are excellent weapons against worries – as direct as those pointy, throwing stars you see in martial art movies. By swapping the negative for the positive of your own choosing, you’re already more empowered. Worries? We’ve got you on the run!
David hosts the aptly named David Madow Lifestyle Show where we were guests a while ago. During the interview David dubbed us ‘happiness freaks’ – something we took as a compliment.
If you struggle with the way you look or feel, if you are in a dead-end relationship, a job that you do not love, or if your life consists of looking forward to weekends, happy hours and vacations, David will give you inspiration to change.
If I could do only ONE thing in my life to half my worries and double my happiness, I know EXACTLY what it would be.
I would eliminate all debt, spend MUCH less than I earn, invest the difference, and never again worry about what anyone else has or what they think of me.
Actually, this is not hypothetical. I have been doing this for the past many years and it is a definite life changer.
The peace of mind that I now have is so great, I cannot even communicate it in words!
My Tuppence Worth
You’re definitely allowed the fact that your one thing is a mixed bag of happiness-in-the-making, all rolled into one fabulous aim. It’s great that you’ve honed in on specific worry-making aspects of life – we’ve been looking more broadly up to this point.
And finances can be such a can of worry worms for so many people. But just as you’ve proved, improving your money-management skills has sorted so much of that for you – positive action defeating the cause of worry. And doubling your happiness – enjoy!
Do you you feel like you’re constantly spinning your wheels, or struggling to find purpose in your daily life and work? Is your hectic lifestyle causing your most important relationships to suffer? Then Cylon knows just how you feel.
As a father of six with a hectic schedule, Cylon knows what it is like to struggle to find balance in your personal and professional life. Which is why at Spiritual Living For Busy People, he helps busy people slow down so they can focus on the things that matters most in life.
The ONE thing I would do to halve my worry an double my happiness is to develop a rock solid gratitude habit.
Whenever I practice the discipline of writing down one to three things a day that I’m grateful for, my happiness skyrockets.
Gratitude is a powerful antidote to worry because it puts me in touch with the fact that there’s always something to be happy about. It reminds me that happiness is a choice and that I can choose happiness over worry.
My Tuppence Worth
Hooray for happiness being a choice! That’s such a gift, isn’t it? Sure we might need to remind ourselves sometimes when life goes very wonky – we have a strong view that as humans we need to be… human! And that means giving ourselves some leeway in getting back to happy as quickly as possible.
Gratitude has popped up as a strong and consistent theme here which is superb. I’d be lost without it, honestly. Mark and I use the term ‘lucky’ more often because that’s more of a British expression than grateful. And you know the more we look for luckiness, the luckier we seem to be 🙂
Alison & Andrew Matheson
For Alison & Andrew the beauty of travel is the connection made along the way – to people, to food, to nature, to culture and to history. It’s hard to make a deep, lasting connection when you’re running to the next destination.
So, Alison & Andrew slow down. They set aside their checklists and let the destination speak to them at the wonderfully named Cheese Web!
There are so many things in life you can’t control: the weather, the people around you, your health.
The one thing you can control, however, is the things you possess and we’ve found the more ‘stuff’ you have, the more worries it can cause. Every time you purchase a new thing, it comes with its own set of worries, whether it’s a new house or car or just an item of clothing. The bigger the object, the more worries come with it.
In some cases, you may decide the item is worth the worries, but often we buy things we don’t actually need and before we know it we’re bogged down with stuff – and bogged down in worries.
- How will we pay for our stuff?
- Where will we keep it?
- Who will keep it clean/repaired/safe etc.?
We’ve downsized multiple times in our lives and find every time we live with only the things we truly need, we find we have far fewer worries.
My Tuppence Worth
So true, new purchases come with too much packaging and an instant storage problem. They can bring a whole host of worries that might have stopped the item ever being included on the list if the product carried an appropriate label. ‘Warning, this product may contain hidden sleepless nights, arguments and financial strain’…
Mark and I definitely find that the few things we do choose to have make us happy too. Less stuff = half the worries + double the happiness. I bet there’s a snappy way to make a funky looking equation out of that. Nils, you’re our science man!
Nils & Jonas
Hey, my name is Nils and I’m the co-founder of njlifehacks.com, a blog dedicated to helping people live a better life through relentless self-improvement. I write about productivity, procrastination, habit psychology, the science of happiness, and a bunch of other stuff that interests me.
My overarching goal is self-mastery – becoming the most compassionate, enthusiastic, loving, persuasive, charismatic, and loving version I can be. I love sharing what I learn along the way.
Damn you, Laura and Mark – picking just one is hard! But okay…
If I wanted to halve my worries and double my happiness right now, I would start self-generating positive emotions of gratitude, appreciation, excitement, etc. I would probably lie down somewhere and bring to mind people for whom I’m grateful for – family, friends, and pets. I would think of all the great things these people did for me, all the great memories we share, all the great times we’ve had together.
I believe they call this savoring and reminiscing in the scientific literature and it’s just one of many ways to self-generate good emotions.
If you do it for 5-10 minutes, you will feel an incredible appreciation for life. You will feel mellow, soft, warm, and grateful.
These positive emotions may not double your happiness, but they will make you a lot happier, and quickly! Even better, positive emotions will slowly and gently push worrisome thoughts out of your consciousness, slashing your worries in half in no time.
It’s like Osho, one of my favorite long-bearded mystics, used to say, “Fear is nothing but absence of love. Do something with love, forget about fear. If you love well, fear disappears. If you love deeply, fear is not found.”
I’ve found this to be true in my own life: The more positivity I feel, the less fear I experience. Give it a try… it works!
My Tuppence Worth
So, we’ll let your one becoming three slip by – because when it comes to halving worries, or doubling happiness – cheat away! Generating positive emotions is super powerful (but under the microscope there’s definitely more than one going on there Nils 🙂 )
You’ve added another whole approach, thank you. Whereas we’ve been mainly focusing on thoughts up to this point, you’ve brought in emotions to complete the toolkit. I wonder with reminiscing and savoring if some physical props might help when worries are shouting particularly loud: photos of your best family and friends moments for example? (I love that you included pets too).
So there you are – two dozen and more ways to halve your worries and double your happiness – the experts cut – and my tuppence’s worth :).
Which tactic or tactics are you going to employ next time you find yourself worrying? Or do you have one of your own our experts haven’t mentioned?
The only real problem you are going to have left is: what are you going to do with all time you’ve freed up from worrying?