"No worry, no guilt, no doubt, no regret." ~Phyllis Herman
Worry is an especially bad violator, as I know all too well from personal experience. It's a trap even those with the best of intentions fall into.
There are two ways to quickly and easily distract yourself from being mindful:
- regretting the past
- worrying about the future
In both cases your mind is living in another time zone, away from the reality of now, away from the potential joys of today.
I am a worrier. My mother tells me that when I was very young I would stand at the bottom of the slide at the playground, debating whether it was all worth it - was the fun of coming down the slide worth the risk of possibly falling off that tall ladder? My worry of (potential) danger stopped me from getting on the slide.
Later in life, I started to encounter regrets from these decisions. Was I missing out on all the fun?
That regret, or rather the worry of future regret, eventually caused me to start facing my fears. A little later in life when I was too old for slides, I remember climbing up the ladder to the terrifyingly high high-dive at the high school pool, plugging my nose, and taking the plunge. Way back then I recognized the folly of worry, because as much as I can think through all sorts of horrible scenarios, I also love to create opportunities for happiness. Worry would prevent me from being happy, so I had to fight to be mindful, stop worrying, and take the plunge.
At its basic level, worry is the fear of the unknown. It's something we all think about on some level: Is it safe for me to go on that carnival ride? What do I want to be when I grow up? Now that I'm a grown up, why can't I figure out what I want to be? What if I sleep too late and miss my flight? What is my spouse doing when I'm not around? What will people think of me if I post this on Facebook?
Worrying is putting your focus on what might happen, not what is happening.
It causes you to lose focus, to forget your trust in others, to forget your hope that the world really is a good place and justice will prevail, to forget how to live in the present and be mindful. It's a slippery slope that leads to doubt, anxiety, frustration, distraction, procrastination, and eventually regret that you wasted so much time worrying about something that may never happen.
Sometimes it's OK to worry - it's OK to be skeptical of dangerous things, to a point. Wen you care about someone, it also makes sense to have some concern for their well-being. Observe that worry as a sign that of love for yourself and others, give friendly advice and lead by example, but don't let that concern consume you. They have to figure out their life on their own, just like you.
Worrying is a fool’s errand because the only thing you can control is what's happening right now. The better you are at being mindful and taking care of yourself in the present, the better your chances of avoiding the very things you're worrying about for the future.
So ya know, like no worries, man.