21 November 2005

The Two Categories of Life and Why Not to Worry

Filed under: Ponderings

One of my favorite people in the world is the Dali Lama. It is amazing to me that with all the hardship he has endured in his life, both himself personally, and his people the Tibetan nation, that he is able to keep such a good outlook on life and be so happy.

I remember reading something once that he said that has stuck with me throughout my life and which I try to practice every single day. That is the Two Categories of Life and why there is no reason to worry.

Everything in life falls into one of two categories:

1. You can do something about it, or;
2. You can’t do anything about it.

If you can do something about it, you should, and not worry about it.

If you can’t do anything about it, it is out of your control and you shouldn’t worry about it.

Just that simple.

This little formula has been a great help to me and I have applied it to every facet of my life.

In my personal life it has taught me not to worry about the past or the future. Just live my life for the right now. I’m not saying that you don’t need to take heed of your actions because you’re not concerned about the future. Rather, that you shouldn’t spend countless hours playing over what has happened in the past and wishing you could change it, or playing over what you think might happen and worrying about it.

In my professional life it has taught me to look at the task at hand, do it right now and move on. Not to spend time stressing about whether or not the project will work out or if my work will be acceptable. If I can do the work, then I will, and do the best that I can while doing it. If I cannot do the work, I say so, and help to find ways to get it done. This has garnered me a reputation at work of being a “get it done now” kind of guy. If I say I can do something and take on a task, everyone knows that it will get done.

What would happen if you applied this formula to your life? How would it change your day to day view of events in your life?

Try it.

For one day make a goal not to worry. Start on a day you have off from work, since less things happen to most of us on days we are not working, and make a pledge to yourself to run everything through this simple filter. Then, see how you feel at the end of the day.
I guarantee you’ll feel better.

Then, after you’ve completed one day of the simple filter thinking, expand it. Try it for two days, perhaps a whole weekend, or if you’re really feeling adventurous, a day at work.

As you do this more and more you will condition your brain to take in information differently. Rather than looking for trouble, you’ll start looking for solutions. Your mind will focus on how to resolve problems, as opposed to looking for new problems. Over time, you’ll find that you’re able to do things that you thought before perhaps you couldn’t do. Things will be come easier, life will become easier and most importantly, you’ll be happier.

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