A buzz on your phone. A scroll down your social media posts. Another notification on your computer. The truth is, we are used to being pulled in so many different directions in our modern world. This makes us feel constantly busy and worried, even when we need not be.
There is an abundance of new methods that teach us how to live worry-free lives. In the medical world, new research illuminates the ways in which our brain works. On the Internet, we have new-age gurus that teach us how to find inner peace.
What if the answer to living a worry-free life can be found in ancient wisdom? For a moment, let us allow history to be our teacher.
What Is Living Worry-Free?
Buddhism has gained popularity in the West despite being an Eastern religion. Why? Some think that it may have something to do with what it teaches about life and suffering.
The Buddha’s first “noble truth” is that “life is suffering.” This is an important key to understanding what worry is. Worry, in this context, is our human attempt at breaking free from “suffering”.
However, we all experience hardship, from the least of us to the greatest. Buddha himself was born into a wealthy family as a prince. However, despite his life of luxury, he too was keenly aware of suffering in the world. Ironically, worrying is itself a form of suffering that can lead to mental health problems.
Why Do We Worry?
The Ancient Greek philosopher Seneca once said, “True happiness is to enjoy the present without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied, for he that is wants nothing.”
The Ancient Greek philosophy of stoicism can teach us a lot about why we worry. Stoicism teaches that nothing in the world is intrinsically good or bad. Instead, we assign meaning to everything and choose our reactions.
In this context, the reason we worry so much is because of two reasons. First, we attach huge importance to things outside our control. Second, we attach negative feelings and projections onto those things. Both combine to make us feel worried.
How Do We Worry Less?
The Bible says, “Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:27,34).”
The truth of these words has not changed since they were spoken. In the text, we understand a few things about worrying. First, worry doesn’t do you any good. Second, worrying about tomorrow is futile. Third, each day has enough worries of its own.
In other words, the secret to worrying less is simply to understand that worrying achieves nothing. In fact, your day becomes more productive when you focus on the tasks at hand. You’re better off smiling, enjoying your day, and being fully present.