How to Forget Worry and Be Happy

Mother and daughter bumping nosesRemember the song from the late 1980s—Don’t Worry, Be Happy? That’s a nice thought, but it might not be realistic.

In my opinion, it is perfectly natural to worry. Everyone worries. There is plenty to worry about: the economy, jobs, bills, health, family members, relationships, gas prices, the state of our country and the world, global warming, and so on. That is a pretty good list to start with, but we all have our own individual “Worry List” that goes on and on. The items may vary, but most of our lists are lengthy.

We don’t have to worry. What is the last thing that improved, or had a better outcome, because you worried about it? Worry is an activity in which time is spent imagining worst-case scenarios for things we care about. We use our imagination—just as we did when we were children—when we made ourselves believe there really was a monster under the bed. We make things up and scare ourselves.

Our society has taught us that responsible people worry. An unspoken belief is that worrying about something may decrease the likelihood of it happening. That gives us a lot of options to be sure we cover as we worry responsibly.

A psychiatrist friend of mine shares a story of his friend many years ago saying to him, “You must really worry about your kids now that your wife has died.”

“No,” he answered, “I love my kids too much to worry about them.”

He went on to explain that if he spent time worrying about his kids, the time he had with them would be focused on if their homework was done, why they were a few minutes late for curfew, or if they had brushed their teeth. He chose to spend his time with his children loving and enjoying them rather than worrying about them.

Perhaps it sounds too simple, but consider what worry can do. Worry can increase our levels of stress while lowering our mood or state of mind. So we participate in an activity that will put us in a bad mood and make us more stressed, and then we attempt to solve problems from that frame of mind. It doesn’t work! I think problems are solved by insights that come from a calm and relaxed state of mind.

Have you ever had one of those “aha” moments? Perhaps when you are in the shower or driving home from work? Suddenly you see a solution you never saw before. Those eureka moments don’t usually happen when we worry; they often happen when our minds find a quiet moment and our racing thoughts aren’t shouting.

Take some time to think of the things that bring you the most peace, perhaps a walk on the beach, listening to beautiful music, doing crafts, or watching the birds in your backyard. Activities that you enjoy may allow your level of stress to decrease and your mood to improve. From that place of calm, answers you have been searching for often appear as an insight—a sight from within.

Don’t worry, be happy!

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  • johnna

    June 15th, 2012 at 6:09 PM

    My four year old son tells me all the time ” don’t worry about a thing, cause every little thing’s gonna be alright “. Great article and I think we should try to live more like our children.

  • Leona

    June 16th, 2012 at 4:39 AM

    Thank you for sharing this article on worry. It is so simple and makes so much sense!


    June 16th, 2012 at 11:56 PM

    Worrying has gotten nobody anywhere yet we continue to worry about things-big and small, past, present and future, our own and things around us-we worry about everything.

    It’s not impossible but a little or practice can certainly help us stop worrying. I am trying that myself and the odd times when I am able to shut out the worrying is when I feel the best.

  • S donald

    June 18th, 2012 at 12:01 AM

    Never gonna b easy to stop worrying,we’ve been programmed to do tht ever since school began..But taking some time off to see d good things around us can n will negate d huge load that worrying brings to us.

  • michelle

    June 18th, 2012 at 4:27 AM

    This can be your own little personal mantra!
    It is a good point to reach when you can say that you know you don’t have control over every given situation, so some things you have to learn to let go.
    Not that easy to do for a control freak like me, but it’s possible.

  • Jamon

    June 19th, 2012 at 4:35 AM

    it’s all a state of mind, but sure is a lot easier said than done

  • Blakely

    June 20th, 2012 at 4:32 AM

    That’s true Jamon. It is easier to talk about being happy than it is to do it in reality. But most of the time a lot of things that are actually good for us are not the easiest path that we can take. You have to talk yourself into being happy sometimes, the same way that you have to talk yourself into going to the gym sometimes. But you know its good for you in the end, so shouldn’t you at leats give it a try?

  • James Hertel, ph.D

    July 24th, 2012 at 10:55 AM

    Worry self-perpetuates when we worry and nothing terrible happens, worrying is reinforced yet again.

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