There is a great Buddhist saying and it goes something like this “Man begins to worry because he worries that he has nothing to worry about”. Have you ever been totally happy or at peace and then begun to worry for no apparent reason? It is ridiculous to think that we create our own conflict in the mind but it couldn’t be closer to the truth. We have a brain that is smarter than we understand it to be and this is how the cycle of fear works. Worry is the way we keep ourselves from happiness.
All my life I have heard the term happiness thrown around like a buzzword as if it is something to be gained. As I have expressed in several blog posts, I do not view happiness as a tangible thing. To me happinesss is the elimination of accumulated darkness. Self-sustaining happiness comes from contentment of acceptance, compassion, and sympathetic joy, qualities which cannot be developed like a muscle, but rather they must be actualized by the removal of fetters in the mind.
There is two types of fear; appropriate and inappropriate fear. One is necessary in situations where we are in actual danger (being robbed for example) and the latter is for perceived threats where our body responds in fight-or-flight mode even though we might not actually need it to. Worry is a special form of fear. In order to be happy, we simply cannot live in a constant fear-or-flight mode because even if you are not in actual danger, your body will respond as if it is if you worry.
“If worrying is so bad, how do I stop worrying?” I hear you ask. Firstly, stop trying to think yourself out of situations. “If I think about this enough, I should feel a sense of certainty” is a common response to worry but as Buddhism teaches, shutting off the thoughts and being present in the moment, not the past or future, and cultivating trust with yourself is the beginning to true inner peace. If you’ve never tried it, I understand how thoughtlessness could seem amusing, since understandably so we are taught that our thoughts define us. However, your ego lives off conflict so it will create destructive and negative thoughts simply to satisfy itself. Shutting off ALL thoughts (good and bad) allows you to start off exactly where you are. If you think yourself out of distress you are merely using your own biases, but when you are thoughtless, the insights comes to you. You know how they say the moment you let go, everything comes to you? Well it’s fucking true compadre, believe me.
Buddhism teaches that we are all born happy but we are conditioned into being worriers and that is why we worry for no reason. Fear of fear has no purpose, it is a way of hurting yourself. You’re afraid that your partner will leave you, you’re afraid that you’ll gain weight, all fears which can become true simply by the virtue of you thinking so. If you trust yourself, what can worry you? What obstacle could you not confront if you lived in harmony with your authentic nature? The worrier is someone who does believe in themselves and they are out of touch with the present reality, living in either the past or the future. This here moment is all you have and in this moment there are infinite possibilities and a sub-set of possibilites which you can employ to achieve inner peace. Worriers are restless people and restlessness is itself a symptom of not being able to be present for discomfort. Your emotions are an indicator of the dialogue going on between you and you so pay attention to your discomfort.
We all meet those people in society who are unbothered by everything, they manage distress with ease and clarity. Do not assume for a second that this inner peace is gained overnight. The key to happiness is repetition. It is to keep trying. The Japanese word Kaizen meaning “improvement” refers to the continuum of effort that comes from taking small steps towards excellence. Self-mastery requires you to do the same thing over and over again.
“Don’t attach judgmental labels to yourself or your anxiety. Worry in itself is neither good nor bad -it’s what you do with it that matters”
Don’t buy into the notion that spirituality is a gimmick because cliches sound too simple to be true. Cliches are simple because for solution-minded people, life is simple but the mind makes life to be way more serious than it is. Breath and let be. Accept and then act. These two cliches have got me through a lot of shit. We worry because we have nothing to worry about, we are fearful of fear and so we create fear where it doesn’t exist. Look at how silly our ego is and still most of us would rather worry ourselves into a grave rather than give in to a simple cliche.. tut tut tut.
Scientifically the propensity to worry evolved in humans along with intelligence. However, the true masters of existence regulate their emotions and control their thoughts in order to escape the primal-ness of our being. Ask yourself of what use has inappropriate fear ever been to you? Most of the time fear escalates fear and so controlling the domino effect makes sure we don’t spiral into overthinking and descend from our autnethic nature.
Align yourself with the person you envision yourself to be. And remember that the five hindrances to inner peace are as follows:
- Sensual desire (kamacchanda)
- Ill will (vyapada)
- Sloth, lethargy, or drowsiness (thina-middha)
- Restlessness and worry (uddhacca-kukkucca)
- Uncertainty or skepticism (vicikiccha)
BTW: If you enjoyed this post I am currently writing a book on a similar subject matter which I am excited to reveal to you all in the forthcoming future!