Today is filled with uncertainty. No matter how much we plan, we have no idea what it will actually look like…if it will rain, shine, sleet or snow. It can change at any moment too. There are times when life is filled with joyful, beautiful unexpected surprises. Then there are times when we find ourselves pushed off a cliff as we flap our arms in hopes of not hitting the ground too hard.
We could spend our time worrying about what kind of week we are going to have or what kind of year we will finish with, but that kind of thinking does no good. Being ready and planning for potential problems is necessary, but worrying about whether a disaster will happen is pointless.
I used to be a worrier. As a matter of fact, I wasn’t a very positive person. I’m sure you’re shocked with that news, but it’s true. My thoughts were not filled with the possibilities of today, they were focused on the “what if’s” of tomorrow.
What if a wart grows on my nose?
What if I can’t take care of myself.
What if I wake up unable to do move.
So many what if’s filled my head and yet none of them have become a reality in my life. You know what I found? The things I was worried about were things I had no control over. Zero. Zip. Natta. None.
I had to make a change, not just for me but for those in my life who were being affected by my worries. If you haven’t realize it yet, others can feel your worries.
I remember reading a quote years ago: “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” Now that’s something to frame and hang by the front door as a reminder to live in the moment.
It wasn’t easy changing, but I started thinking about the things I was thinking about and began letting go of my worries. Instead of worrying about whether I might end up living in a nursing home one day, I began living. I was amazed at the number of worries I actually had. Every time a worry would pop into my head, I stopped and asked myself, “Is this problem solvable?” If I couldn’t do anything about it, I let it go.
I also distanced myself from the people around me who lived in a constant state of worry. I realized their worries, worried me. I didn’t need that. I was trying to rid myself of worries, not add to them. Over time I found myself actually enjoying life…a life filled with the possibilities of terrible disasters but lived with the peace of today.
Shel Silverstein wrote a great poem about the What if’s.
Last night, while I lay thinking here,
some Whatifs crawled inside my ear
and pranced and partied all night long
and sang their same old Whatif song:
Whatif I’m dumb in school?
Whatif they’ve closed the swimming pool?
Whatif I get beat up?
Whatif there’s poison in my cup?
Whatif I start to cry?
Whatif I get sick and die?
Whatif I flunk that test?
Whatif green hair grows on my chest?
Whatif nobody likes me?
Whatif a bolt of lightning strikes me?
Whatif I don’t grow tall?
Whatif my head starts getting smaller?
Whatif the fish won’t bite?
Whatif the wind tears up my kite?
Whatif they start a war?
Whatif my parents get divorced?
Whatif the bus is late?
Whatif my teeth don’t grow in straight?
Whatif I tear my pants?
Whatif I never learn to dance?
Everything seems well, and then
the nighttime Whatifs strike again!