The elders had a strong opinion about worrying. Keep in mind that – unlike many younger people – many of them have gone through the kinds bad experiences everyone worries about. And what they tell you is this: Yes, bad things may happen, but you will find the resources in yourself to handle them. Why poison the present moment with continual, pointless worry?
When you find yourself worrying too much, take a look at these lessons from the elders:
Manuel, 72: You have to be flexible; don’t get locked into one frame of mind over anything. And probably the most important thing is, ninety-five percent of all the things I worried about never happened.
Frank, 88: Don’t give into every ache and pain and be thankful for every day that you have on this earth, and enjoy your family. You can’t change anything by thinking about it. Whatever is going to be is going to be, and your worrying and concerning yourself is not going to change it one little bit.
Florence, 76: One thing I think is that sometimes you’re disappointed when something doesn’t work out, but I’ve always believed that everything happens for the best. You’re disappointed over something and then a few months may pass and you say: Gee, I’m glad this other thing didn’t happen because this is better.
Olivia, 95: We generally worry about the wrong things. The calamities we lose sleep about usually don’t materialize.
Paul, 71, believes we’re too hard on ourselves when it comes to regrets:
What I know now is I made some mistakes in life, I have some regrets. I think we all do. But I’ve learned as I get older. I’ve identified things that I feel as though I did wrong. I feel bad them, but I don’t hold myself responsible at this point in time. I’m a different person now. And to know that I erred in certain ways and I feel sad about it is enough for me. The guilt is gone.
Agnes, 74, moved beyond trying to fulfill the expectations of others and the need to please everyone. She discovered daily joy in small things.
From the time I can remember, I tried to please first, my parents, then my friends, followed by my husband and children. It was hard work, and many times I did not do as well as I would have liked. I spent a lot of energy trying to live up to others’ and my own expectations. As I age, I have come to the conclusion that it really doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks or expects: the only one I have to answer to is myself. If I feel good about something, then it is good for me. If I try to please someone, it is because it pleases me to do so. I no longer stub my toe on details that shouldn’t matter and have much more energy to spend on those things that make me happy. I have ordered my priorities with the realization that my days are numbered, even if I don’t know how many there are. I watch the moon rise and the sun set, smell the roses and love deeply the many people who enhance my life.
Oliver’s (age 81) lesson: Do one thing at a time, or you get “stress and chaos.”
It’s a scientific fact that you can only think of one thing at a time. Accept that fact and work accordingly. Make a list of your projects and follow each one as far as convenient, then tackle the next. Many people take pride in handling several things at once without a plan. Their attention is constantly redirected, allowing stress and chaos to build, with nothing completed.