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Why Worrying is Counterproductive and How to Lighten Up

Posted by on June 28, 2015 in Conscious Living, Happiness & Humor, Thrive with 0 Comments

James McCrae | Tiny Buddha

stop worrying

“People become attached to their burdens sometimes more than the burdens are attached to them.” ~George Bernard Shaw

You could say I had a type. Most girls I’ve dated have had a few things in common. Historically, I’ve been attracted to dark-haired deep thinkers—old souls with just a tinge of sadness in their eyes. Emotional pain is a sign of character.

There is nothing like looking into a woman’s eyes and exploring decades (if not centuries) of wonder and worry hidden beneath a stoic, classic composure. There is an attractiveness to being slightly worn down by the road.

But Jane was different. Jane was light.

Is it better to date someone similar to you, or do opposites attract? Jane and I were an experiment in opposites.

In conversation I have a tendency to wade through heavy philosophical banter. Where is America heading? If there is free will, why do individuals lean toward conformity? What is the meaning of life?

But Jane merely laughed and changed the subject. She was absolutely free, and had the singular objective of living each day to the fullest. Without trying, Jane innocently pushed me outside my comfort zone into a place far sunnier than I was accustomed to being.

My thoughts couldn’t be burdensome with Jane because she didn’t speak my common language of doubt and regret. She shed light on every dark corner my mind would wander.

The Unbearable Heaviness of Being

Having been born on the frozen tundra of Minnesota, a place molded by practical values and a sense of solemn responsibility, I had been conditioned to see life as something heavy.

Maybe it’s the infamous winters, or an unspoken guilt still lingering from the 1860’s Sioux massacres, or maybe it’s the perpetual bad luck of the Minnesota Vikings. Whatever the origins of the struggle, the attitude is clear—too much fun is not to be trusted. We hold our worries close to our chest.

Jane made me rethink everything. For her, having fun was life’s highest virtue. Problems brushed off her like breeze off a tulip. The ease with which she lived didn’t make sense to my ego.

“Life is hard,” my ego would say. “There is so much I need to worry about. What if I run out of money? What if I lose my job? What if people think I’m stupid? My burden is heavy. I can’t take life lightly because if I put my guard down everything will fall apart. I need my problems. Having burdens validates my existence.”

Whenever my ego started pontificating about life’s hardships, I heard Jane’s polite rebuttal.

“Stop being so dramatic,” she would say. “You invent problems to justify your heaviness. But heaviness itself is the problem. Let go of the weight you are carrying. Life is a story we tell ourselves. So make the story good. Nothing—and I mean nothing—is serious enough to sacrifice the enjoyment of the present moment.”

Burden is a choice. Sure, problems come and go. But it’s our reaction to these problems that defines us. We can take problems heavily or we can take them lightly. Heaviness won’t make your problems easier; it will make them harder. Lightness sets us free.

Life is a roller coaster. Once you are strapped in, you’re off. You can either tighten up and be miserable during the process of life, or you can let go and enjoy the ride.


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