Non-worrying is an intelligent choice you can make.
If you are on an Indigo flight the next time, pause as you board and glance at the cockpit door. A little blue sticker advises the crew to leave their worries out of their work: “Flying is a serious profession, do not carry your worries beyond this point.” Even as I shot a picture, our flight attendant and Leading Lady Vaishali said, “I follow this advice all the time, Sir!”
That’s an intelligent choice Vaishali makes. But the sticker’s message is not applicable only to the flying profession. The way I see it is like this: “Living is a serious business. And we must not let our worries come in the way of living our Life to the fullest!”
Worry is a human invention; it is not a part of Creation. We worry only because we are not in control of our mind. The human mind thinks 60,000 thoughts a day. Now, you can’t get rid of thoughts. They will keep arising in your mind just the way waves arise in the ocean. And the nature of the mind is such that, in its untrained state, it thrives in the dead past spewing thoughts of anger, grief and guilt or it races to the unborn future painting dark, worrisome, fearful scenarios that cause you to be steeped in anxiety, insecurity and stress. When you train your mind to anchor only in the present moment, it becomes powerless. In its powerless state, the mind learns to live fully in the present moment. In the now, the past and the future are both irrelevant. This understanding, and a disciplined practice of any form of meditation to train your mind, are what can lead you to be non-worrying.
Simply, there are only two kinds of problems in Life. One kind are those problems that you can solve. So, why worry? Another kind are those problems that you cannot solve. Again, why worry? Either way, worrying is a completely futile activity. Worrying has solved no problem – ever!
Yet, to be sure, you cannot get rid of worries. But you can choose not to pick up a worrisome thought when it arises in you. Only when you attend to a worry, only when you pick it up, does it control you. Non-worrying is when you choose to ignore a worry. So, worrylessness cannot be attained; but you can surely learn to be non-worrying.
To me, the little blue sticker on the Indigo cockpit door is the simplest primer available for Life. It reminds us that Life is a one-time, limited-period, offer. And encourages us not to squander our Life either by worrying or being held hostage by negative, debilitating thoughts.
Non-worrying delivers happiness!
“Is there a method or technique with which you can stop worries from arising in your mind,” asked a gentleman over a message to me on my App (“AVIS Viswanathan” – available for free download on Google Play and the App Store).
The simple answer is that you can’t stop worries from arising in your mind. You can only choose to be non-worrying.
Let me explain further what I have learnt about being non-worrying.
Non-worrying means that when a worry arises in your mind, you simply let it pass. Anything that you don’t attend to will not bother you.
Consider this: in some months of the year the population of flies in India usually multiplies – particularly in humid conditions in Chennai. Even the cleanest five-star properties in Chennai will not be spared by the flies in such times. So, if you walked into a swank coffee shop and found a couple of flies on the tables there, you will not make a hue and cry. You will simply ignore their presence thinking to yourself, “well, this is India, this is Chennai, this is common occurrence” and move on. Non-worrying means treating the worry that arises as you would treat a housefly in India. Accept that it exists, accept that you can’t do anything about it and move on.
A worry controls you only when you feed it with your attention. It controls you only when you allow it to control you. Just ignore it. Let it be. And you be too. When you make a worry powerless, it will simply recede – the same way it arose in the first place.
Of course, the human mind, like the human body, must be trained to practise non-worrying. And that requires 24 x 7, consistent, practice! When you master the art of non-worrying, you can only be happy!
You can’t pursue or find happiness. You simply awaken to it.
I read this interesting column, Why happiness is the wrong goal, by Manu Joseph in the Mint on Saturday. Manu is a very good writer and I respect him. But with this piece, I am afraid he appears to be, in all that he is trying to say, missing the most elementary point.
Happiness is not a goal. Period.
I must confess that there was a time in Life when I too thought of happiness as a destination, as a goal that had to be pursued. In fact, for most of my 20s and right up to my mid-30s, I kept telling my friends that I would be happy when I turned 40. My reasoning was that because we had married early – when I was barely 21 and Vaani was 22 (she is a year older than me) – and because our son Aashirwad was born in the second year of our marriage, both Vaani and I would be “done with our worldly responsibilities” by the time we were 40! So I would often remark: “When I am 40, Aash will be 18; I would have made a lot of money and I would retire, play golf and be happy!” Now, when I think back, I realize I was so naïve. Of course, we had Aanchal joining us in the sixth year of our marriage, so my “logically-argued happiness goal ended up being pushed further”!!! But, important, look at the way our Life has panned out – we went bankrupt as we entered our 40s (in 2007). (Read more in my Book here: Fall Like A Rose Petal) And we have spent most of the past decade without work or money. We still have a truckload of existential problems and legacy issues to deal with! Yet, through this experience, we have understood what happiness truly is.
Together we have realized that accepting, embracing, what is, is happiness. It is a state of being – when you are non-worrying, non-frustrated and non-suffering. Non-worrying because you have learnt not to allow your mind to race into the unborn future, non-frustrated because you have realized that having talent and integrity don’t always mean that you will get what you want and non-suffering because you have learnt not to ask ‘Why Me?’ when you get what you don’t like or don’t want in Life. When you are non-worrying, non-frustrated and non-suffering, there is no pursuit, there is nothing to be gained, nothing to be lost. You simply are.
This state of being, no matter what your circumstances are, is happiness. You don’t find happiness, you don’t discover it, you don’t pursue it. You are the happiness you seek. In essence, you help yourself to happiness by awakening to it!