By the time you finish this article, you will have the scientific knowledge, backed by scientific research, on how to stop worrying, or at least to stop worrying about 85-97% of the things in your entire life.
Five hundred years ago, Michel de Montaigne said: “My life has been filled with terrible misfortune; most of which never happened.” Now there’s even a study that proves it. This study looked into how many of our made up stories never happen in the physical reality.
So How To Stop Worrying, According To Science?
We worry way too often about each and every detail. Usually we worry about our diet, we worry about our health, we worry about making money, we worry about our physique, we worry if we are attractive or not, we worry about our partner, we worry about our parents and grandparents… we worry about each and every single thing we are unsure about.
Unlike the animals, we have the capacity to think about ourselves far into the future. Animals respond to life mostly on a moment-by-moment basis, but our ability to imagine the future allows us to behave in ways today that will have desired consequences later on. Now, don’t get me wrong, worrying is not all that bad. Self-awareness is essential for planning for the future, improving ourselves, and avoiding real danger in the future.
And yes, while thinking about the future is critical to our well-being, most of us think about the future far more than needed to manage our lives effectively. When we think too much about the future, we get distracted from our life in the present moment and what’s even worse, it fuels great deal of anxiety about things that will probably never happen tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, next week, year and even decades from the present moment.
While animals fear when they face real danger, they don’t worry about what might happen in the future, nor they read articles on how to stop worrying.
If all the things we worry about happen, and we are prepared for them, it would be an absolute blessing to worry. But on the other side, if all the things we worry about happen, that would be living in hell!
Most of the things we worry about never happen, and if they do, we can solve them a lot better than we thought we can. Worrying about future problems rarely gets us prepared when it’s time to take action in the physical reality.
Yet the question remains: if worrying doesn’t do much good, but more damage, why do we keep worrying? Why do we wrap around the anxiety blanket and keep on trying to predict the future? There’s a great theory predicting the answer of these questions.
“How To Stop Worrying” Didn’t Exist 10000 Years Ago
Leonard Martin, social psychologist at the University of Georgia suggests a great theory tackling the answer to the questions above.
Martin speculates that self-generated worry about what might happen in the future became a problem in the last 10,000 years or so. Before then, our prehistoric ancestors were able to think about what might happen in the future, but their hunting-gathering lifestyle did not evoke a great deal of unnecessary rumination about the future.
For million of years, humans didn’t plan long-term to accumulate money, success, possessions, or simply self-improve themselves on personal and professional level. Our prehuman ancestors were focused on today, rather than weeks, months, or years ahead. Hunter-gatherers with little to no possessions at all didn’t plan for the future or long-term goals. They didn’t have a reason to think more than a day or two ahead.
But something happened that changed everything. When agricultural revolution or so-called Neolithic Revolution began 10.000 years ago, humans began to worry about the future. Unlike the hunter-gathers who mostly lived day-to-day lives, farmers must plan for planting, harvesting and storing the crops. Because so many things can ruin the crops, farmers began to think about the weather, pests, thieves, rodents and whatnot. Everything they can worry about just to protect their yield.
To make things worse, the new trend called “worrying” didn’t do much good to the farming community. No matter how well they planned or protected the crops from the predictable certainty, things like drought, infestation or even a stampede can destroy everything in a blink of an eye, leaving the farmers to starvation. No matter how many times they spent worrying and protecting the crops, everything could ramshackle like a house of card by things they couldn’t predict.
Many people say this transfer was crucial to humanity. For the first time we owned houses, supplies of food and livestock. Also, the agricultural era brought the division of labor and social roles. This in turn made us worry not only about our well-being, but the well-being of those who we depended upon.
If the theory by Leonard Martin is correct, the Neolithic Revolution brought a new set of psychological stresses because it switched from day-to-day living to worrying too much about things that could rarely be predicted.
Knowing This Is There A Way To Stop Worrying?!
Looking back 10000 years ago, we can hardly say things are getting better on the topic on how to stop worrying. Now we have a lot more things to worry about, especially since the introduction of The Information Age. We are being bombarded with so much information a day that it keeps us worried every minute of an hour. However, everything can be fixed if we have the right habits and tools, for which we’ll discuss at the end of this article.
Montaigne’s quote that we mentioned in the beginning of this article made us laugh for five centuries, but worry is no joke.
The stressed caused by worrying generates serious health problems. The stress hormone that worrying throws into your brain is linked to heart disease, cancer, premature aging, family dysfunction, clinical depression, lowering your IQ, shrinking brain mass, and even making seniors more likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Science tells us not to worry, and here’s the scientific research supporting my claim.
The study we mentioned in the beginning of this article, looked into how many of the things we worry about turn out to be true in real life.
In this study, subjects were asked to write down their worries over an extended period of time and then identify which of the things they wrote down did not actually happen.
It turns out that 85 percent of what subjects worried about never happened, and with the 15 percent that did happen, 79 percent of subjects discovered either:
a) could handle the difficulty better than expected, or
b) the difficulty taught them a lesson worth learning
This means that 97 percent of what you worry over is not much more than a fearful mind punishing you with exaggerations and misperceptions.
Now that you know this, STOP WORRYING! Easier said than done, right? How to stop worrying is better question.
Just by thinking to stop worrying is not going to help you much.
We have to implement habits and basically change ourselves ENTIRELY to stop worrying and start living better life filled with happiness and great moments.
Imagine the perfect YOU, the perfect self. Don’t save anything for later, just imagine everything you ever want to be and achieve.
Now here comes the catch: what I am about to say is mind-blowing!
To become the person you want to be, you have to change everything about yourself in this moment. Everything you “think” about has to be changed. Everything you “do” has to be changed. Long story short, you shouldn’t be the person that you are right now. If you were the person that you should’ve been, you would have all those things already, right?!
Change doesn’t happen overnight, just like there is no such a thing as overnight success. Change happens with mental and physical effort. You cannot wish for it and snap your finger. It doesn’t work that way.
Here are 3 practical tips you can implement right now and start changing your mentality from farmer to hunter-gatherer lifestyle.
1. Take a pen and piece of paper and start writing
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.” – Chinese Proverb
Ok, I have to admit. We are going to upgrade the hunter-gatherer lifestyle, since they didn’t have pen and paper, nor they planned for the future (stating the obvious).
Planning for the future is not the cause of worrying. Not knowing how the future unfolds is.
So here’s what we do. We take a pen and paper and start planning for the future.
I don’t personally know you, but I know that you, as all of us, have personal and professional goals that you want to attain.
There’s no precise guideline for this because what works for me might not work for you, but I will share my lookalike plan for the future on one of my goals.
YouTube Channel – I have 1M subscribers on YouTube by 202X year. I keep on publishing videos with enormous value without the need to get something in return.
My vision is making people’s lives better, and helping those who need help.
I publish at least 1 video a week and I will give my best in each and every video.
To be narrowed, I keep my channel strictly about self-improvement and I don’t steer clear of my vision at any cost.
I do research, assemble and write an article, and create that article in a YouTube video.
Here’s how one of my big goal looks like. Then I cut my big goal into smaller goals and do these things daily without skipping a single task.
For many people it works by only having one big goal, for example I will build a massive YouTube Channel by 2022. For me it works by cutting the big goals into smaller ones, and executing the same every day.
Once you start writing ideas will start flowing. Most of us are afraid to imagine and simply upgrade our capabilities to get that thing in the physical reality.
Start writing, have a clear plan about your future, and get to the next step, which is REALLY important.
2. Plan without action is just a wish
I don’t know if you noticed, but I never mentioned that “I will” do something in my plan. I wrote things down as I already do and own them. That way I don’t have space to wish. I give myself the pressure to do all that is necessary to have those things achieved.
After you create your plan on a piece of paper, you already have it in physical reality. It’s really important that you write your plan down, instead of typing it or remembering it, which is the worst type of planning.
When you write things out, you create spatial relations between each bit of information you’re recording. Handwriting activates parts of your brain involved in thinking and working memory, and allows you to store and manage information. The movement associated with the pen and your hand can help you encode and retain information long-term.
Since you have your plan ready, the next step is to start taking action. The difference between wishing and achieving something is your ability to execute your plan in real life.
There are many philosophies that will push you to take action, or things that will motivate you to get up on your a$s and start executing your plan. But here’s the trick: if you love what you do, if you have your plan written next to you, everything else is just an excuse. Taking action does not require you to solve math problems or unsolved mysteries. Taking action is a muscle, and you build it by pushing yourself to do more. Imagine wanting to bigger chest muscles. You will have to work out and push yourself to get those chest muscles pumped.
What we fail to realize is that we are not always going to feel happy about it. Just as I am writing this I was sick as f*ck. I have fever and I feel like throwing up any second, but you know what? No one gives a crap about that. I am going to write this article and finish it and if I need, I will end it by falling with my head on the keyboard. That’s how much I am dedicated to each bit of thing I do today.
You don’t have to go so harsh on yourself, but you do need to be harsh against your emotions. If you feel lazy or just not amused by your work, that’s just unacceptable. That’s the excuse you are making to avoid hardship.
It all boils down to the things you DO. Not the things you “think” you do, but the actual things you create in the physical reality.
Stop doing things because of others. Start beings selfish about yourself, especially when it comes to success. You are going to perish one day. As bad as it sounds, no one gets out alive anyway.
Is your current state your dream life, or you have a lot more to do to get there? If you don’t take action, your current state is going to get worse, because when we don’t improve we usually impair.
Final quote: “Take action! No one will do the work for you!”
3. Life is not a finish line. Life is a journey
Yes. I already said that things will end one day, so eventually life has to end, but that’s the mental oxymoron we are fighting. Why do we all have to think that everything has to have an end? Don’t keep on thinking that when you do “this” you will feel “that”. It just doesn’t work that way.
For example, most people think that when they have money they will be happy and solve all of their problems. I can tell you for a fact that if you work to make money just so you can be happy, then you are NEVER going to be happy when you(if you) make money.
This is because you tie your end goal (which is practically a finish line) to a thing that you hope will make you happy.
And then you keep asking yourself why you are worried. Of course you will be worried! You are chasing 75% cotton and 25% linen (that’s what the money is made of in the US) and hope they will make you happy! Where is the sense in that?
Yes, money can buy you freedom, pay your bills, and put food on your table. But money is not going to make you happy or fulfilled if you chase them for the sake of having them. You’ve got to have an endless vision, a journey behind your earnings. Otherwise they will burden you to the point where you are going to spend them just to be healthy again. You get my point?
Create goals from tiny, daily executions, that will allow you to climb to the medium and gigantic goals.
For example, by researching everyday, writing articles and filming YouTube videos I am going to build a YouTube Channel up to 1M subscribers in X years.
This sounds like a fairy tale now, but if I keep on doing it for X years, I will eventually get there.
However, if I don’t enjoy the journey, and if I do it only to get to 1M subscribers, although the chances are very low, I still might do it. But when I get there I will be more miserable than ever.
When you focus on the journey instead of the goal, you give yourself permission to be happy every second of the day. I am not saying you will be, because every grand goal requires you to go through tons of s*it, but you will hold the switch to end those undesirable emotions every second of the way.
So no, you life is not a sprint, your life is a marathon, and if you want to be happy and fulfilled most of the time, give yourself the permission to do so by going on a journey.
In these practical tips, we almost never mentioned how to stop worrying. I did that on purpose because by having a clear goal, followed by execution and going along a journey, you have nothing to worry about. You’ve had it all covered by yourself. You are no longer farming. You are gathering the fruits of your own creation.