Worry: The Great Destroyer of Happiness

“Do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight.” ~ Benjamin Franklin.

Worry is a great destroyer of happiness. It is a totally unproductive thing to do, and yet most of us engage in it with great enthusiasm. I’m always amused when I hear things like ‘is this something we should worry about?’ or ‘What should we really be worrying about?’ The answer, of course, is that we shouldn’t be worrying about anything – there is always a better option.

Worry comes from living in the past or (more often) the future. We have all made mistakes, we’ve all got things wrong. We’ve made foolish decisions and behaved badly. This is part of everyone’s past, and whatever has happened, nothing can be done to change it. But we can learn from this experience and move on. Regret and worry over the past are dead ends.

Similarly, nobody knows the future. Nobody can predict what is going to happen tomorrow, and yet we spend so much time trying to do just that, and worrying about all the things that could go wrong. Mark Twain wrote, ‘I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.’ Sage warning indeed.

‘That the birds of worry and care fly above your head, this you cannot change. But they that build nests in your hair, you can prevent.’
~ Chinese proverb.

The most important thing to keep in mind here (as in all other areas of life) is that you are in control. You are pulling your own strings, you can choose what to think and how to act. So many people don’t understand this, not realising they are unable to change their thinking and so becoming trapped in their own thoughts of worry and fear. It’s very common for people to blame their unhappiness on the outside world – other people, circumstances, the government, etc. – without ever realizing that the problems, and their solutions, lie within.

It is true that some things are outside our control. But I am convinced that happiness is a choice. It’s a decision we all make, whether we know it or not. It is possible to be happy in any situation, because happiness is our natural, default state of being.

‘Joy is not in things; it is in us.’ ~Richard Wagner (1813-1883)

There is Chinese proverb that says. ‘happiness is right in front of your eyes.’ We don’t have to acquire anything to be happy. Often, we think that we need ‘stuff’ to be happy – we need money, we need a good job, we need our family to behave differently, we need to change our appearance. But really, it’s the other way around. When we’re happy, things start to work. When we desire something, the best thing to do is to be happy and appreciative at the prospect of receiving it, and not to to postponing your joy until that certain something arrives.

One of the most powerful ways to find happiness is to make a list of all the wonderful things that have happened to you. At the end of the day, just run through the things you have appreciated during the day. These can be the smallest of things – perhaps someone said a kind word; perhaps you laughed at something; perhaps you were paid a compliment, or spent time with friends. Are you well? Are you free from pain? Did you eat? These are all things to appreciate.

It’s also important to cultivate a habit of seeing the good in things. Many events can be interpreted in positive or negative ways. Is the glass half empty, or is it half full?

Each day, try to develop an awareness of your thinking so that you can catch yourself starting to worry and make a decision to think more productive thoughts. It’s hard at first, but with practise it will become second nature.

Make a commitment to being happy – it’s the most important work of your life!

Michael Miles is a Guest Blogger for PickTheBrain. He also writes at EffortlessAbundance.

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18 Responses to Worry: The Great Destroyer of Happiness

  1. Wonderful post!! “Joy is not in things; it is in us.” — that is so, so true. Happiness comes from within us and we have the choice to be happy, to look for the positive. It’s certainly not always easy, but we have the choice!

  2. The author is incorrect that worry is “totally unproductive”. In fact, worry is helpful and needed. Worry is a mental fire drill where we identify perils and develop options and plans. Worry is a problem when we worrywart- obsess on things and get rapped in a vicious cycle of fear, uncertainty and doubt – FUD!

    The author is correct that filling your mind with recalling your blessings and positive thoughts promoted happiness. Easy to say, not so easy to do – unless you already know how to and are skilled at it.

    For more info on worrywarting and what to do about it, see: http://www.docpotter.com/ww-areyou.html

  3. Srinivas Rao says:

    This is a really interesting point. Worrying is really a form of visualization and affirmation. You are just visualizing and affirming all the worst possibilities. I read somewhere once that worrying is like living the horrible thing that happens over and over, whereas when it actually happens it only happens once.

  4. Pol says:

    Except, when it has happened, if it is really bad, you may relive it over and over – PTSD

  5. Abraham Hicks – ‘Worrying is using your imagination to create something you don’t want’

  6. I suppose it comes down to how we define ‘worry.’ To ‘identify perils and develop options and plans’ is not ‘worry.’

  7. I suppose it comes down to how we define ‘worry.’ To ‘identify perils and develop options and plans’ is not ‘worry.’

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  9. Its true that worry and thought that are negative lead to disillusion and failure. SO an individual mus rise above and stay mentally focused on being good thoughts.
    Worry is just a psychological fear that leads to more worry. Nothing comes out of worrying So stop, is my advice.

  10. Peter says:

    The biggest problem with worrying is that it will never end, if you keep worrying, once one thing is over another will take its place. It can be very hard but living in the present is the most productive thing to do.

  11. exactly! its an ongoing process. Worry lead to failure and failure leads to depression. Depression leads to anger. Anger leads to aggression. Aggression can be turned into a form of addiction whether substance or not.

    It is down word spiral Peter!

  12. Keen says:

    Thanks for an excellent post !

  13. I agree 100% with Michael!

    Too much of worry will lead you to go the wrong way, there are many ways that you can choose your path ahead of you, YOU DETERMINE YOUR FUTURE!!
    If you choose path A – You will live in wonderful life.
    If you choose path B – You will live in good life.
    If you choose path C – You will live in decent life.
    If you choose path D – You will live in poverty.

    Which path do you want to choose? Worry may lead you to the wrong path, for example, you choose path A, but you worry that there are too many people have chosen path A, you may not getting a chance to do so, therefore, you choose path B, somehow you getting worry that you may lost your friend because they are not in the same way that you are going, so you choose path C….

    Sound familiar?


    Success and self help resources

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  15. Ed Hird says:

    Benjamin Franklin was full of much practical advice, including how to battle worry. A Benjamin Franklin article just received the ‘Top 100 Electricity Blogs’ Award http://bit.ly/z8Ckp

  16. Ken says:

     I will agree, but only from a primitive animalistic standpoint. For many many years man roamed the wilderness and things like this were very important to the survival of the species. But in modern times we depend much more on our logical thinking then our primitive side of reactionary instincts and emotions.

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  18. Docpotter says:

    It is a mistake to press worrywarts to stop worrying – they will only worry more.  Worry, itself, is not bad or a killer of happiness,; rather it is the manner in which one worries that can be the problem  Worry is good – it is like a mental fire drill wherein we identify hazards and come up with contingencies for dealing with them.  Bad worry is when the worrier continues to worry on and on – creating anxiety which leads to more worry. So instead of worrywarting – being trapped in compulsive worry – learn to “worry smart” – that is to worry the issue through and then soothe yourself back to balance. If you  visit my site which is under my name – docpotter – I have numerous articles and info about worrywarting and how to worry smart. Come and stop by.

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