by Robin Sharma
12.Schedule Worry Breaks
After I wrote The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, I was flooded with letters from readers who saw their lives change from the lessons they discovered on becoming happier, more fulfilled and more peaceful in these stress-crazed times. Many of the letters came from people whose work lives had grown so busy that they spent most of their free time worrying about things that should have been left at the office. They had lost the ability to laugh, love and share joy with their families because challenges at work were consuming them.
Too many people are spending the best years of their lives stuck in a state of constant worry. They worry about their jobs, the bills, the environment and their kids. And yet we all know deep in our hearts that most of the things we worry about never happen. It’s like that great saying of Mark Twain’s, “I’ve had a lot of trouble in my life, some of which actually happened.” My father, a particularly wise man who has had a deep influence on my own life, once told me that the Sanskrit character for funeral pyre is strikingly similar to the Sanskrit character for worry. “I’m surprised,” I replied. “You shouldn’t be, son,” he gently offered. “One burns the dead while the other burns the living.”
I know how dramatically the worry habit can reduce one’s quality of life from personal experience. While in my late twenties, I was on the so-called fast track to success. I had received two law degrees from one of the country’s most prestigious law schools, served as the law clerk for a Chief Justice and was handling highly complex cases as a litigation lawyer. But I was often working too hard and worrying too much. I was waking up on Monday morning with a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach and a deep sense that I was wasting my talents on work that was not aligned with the person I was. So I began to search for ways to improve my life, turning first to the self-help and life leadership literature, where I found a wealth of lessons for a more balanced, peace-filled and meaningful existence.
One of the simple strategies I learned to conquer the worry habit was to schedule specific times to worry—what I now call “worry breaks.” If we are facing a difficulty, it is easy to spend all our waking hours focusing on it. Instead, I recommend that you schedule fixed times to worry, say, thirty minutes every evening. During this worry session, you may wallow in your problems and brood over your difficulties. But after that period ends, you must train yourself to leave your troubles behind and do something more productive, such as going for a walk in natural surroundings or reading an inspirational book or having a heart-to-heart conversation with someone you love. If during other times of the day you feel the need to worry, jot down what you want to worry about in a notebook which you can then bring to your next worry break. This simple but powerful technique will help you gradually reduce the amount of time you spend worrying and eventually serve to eliminate this habit forever.