I wanted to talk about worry today. I looked it up and the definition of being worried or feeling worried is feeling or showing concern or anxiety about what is happening or might happen. Now, obviously, feeling worried is a real emotion.
We worry about our kids. We worry about work. We worry about money. We worry about our health. We worry about politics. We worry about all kinds of things.
Let me ask you this. Do you ever worry about the past? Do you ever worry about if your kids will do well in school last week? Do you ever worry about finishing that work project that you finished last month? Do you worry about paying the mortgage that you paid last month? I could obviously keep going on, but I think you get the idea here. Of course you do. All of these just sound really silly. So why do they seem so silly? Because it already happened. You know, the outcome. You know, it\’s not going to change.
Worry is 100 percent focused on the future. Events that have not happened or that we don\’t want to happen. This is what you want to tune into here, is that you get to decide what you think any outcome will be.
This is what worry is about. It\’s about thinking about an outcome. If I take this action, if I don\’t take this action, this will be the result.
For example, for Mother\’s Day, we headed into Boston to the public gardens for opening weekend of the swan boats. If you\’re ever in Boston during the summer, the public gardens there are absolutely amazing. It\’s a must visit. And you may have heard about a children\’s book called Make Way for Ducklings. It\’s one of my favorites from being a kid, one of my kid\’s favorites. And there are some statues in the garden from that book. Super fun if you have kids to connect with those things.
So we arrived just after the boats opened and there was what at the time I perceived to be a really, really large line. Not surprising. It was a beautiful day. People want to be outside. It was the opening weekend. So people are going down to check it out. And so as we found our spot at the end of the line, I started calculating all the things in my head about how long it would take for us to get on the boats.
The number of people times a smaller number of people allowed in boats now times them needing to clean the boats after somebody went on. I started thinking about, well, where can we find snacks? How are we going to entertain our kids for these hours while we wait? Needless to say, I got a bit ahead of myself.
I started thinking it would be hours before we got on the boat. And thankfully, my amazing wife, she noticed that I seemed a bit distracted and just did a quick check in with me. When I explained what I was thinking, she laughed and then reminded me how quickly the line moves because we\’ve actually been to the swan boats before. She changed my belief about how the future events are going to play out now.
Nothing actually changed about the situation. The line was the same size. The number of people were there. What we were doing were there. All the things that we had with us were the same. The only thing that changed was what I thought about the future events. And this is something that you can always control.
And so for me, I simply got to make a choice to be present, because even though I shifted my belief in saying, OK, we\’re not going to be in here for hours, we\’re going to be able to get on the boats, you know, and a shorter amount of time, the feeling of worry still lingered. It was something that I had planted and let start to grow and now needed to be uprooted.
So I made a conscious choice to be present. And so being present is as much about the world inside of you as the world around you. So I\’m going to go through seven ways that you can make a choice to be present when you are looking to let go of worry or looking to establish a practice of being present.These are seven things that you can implement that will be helpful.
So, number one, use your senses. Pause where you are, and just take a minute to tune into your senses. Right.
What do you feel right now? If you\’re outside, do you feel the sun? Maybe a warm breeze?
What do you smell? Are there food vendors nearby? Maybe you catch the scent of flowers or if you happen to be near the ocean, a slight hint of salt.
What do you hear? Kids laughing, the people you\’re talking with, maybe birds chirping. Or if you\’re inside the hum of an air conditioner.
What do you see? Are there people walking by? What about clouds in the air or the leaves on the Trees rustling through the light of the sun shining through them, or maybe there\’s just cars parked nearby, you notice those?
What about what do you taste? And this one really helps us tune into our own body. Maybe you have a mint that you\’ve been sucking on, or you can still taste the freshness of your breath from brushing your teeth in the morning. Or maybe you just had a cup of coffee. And so you still have the sweetness of that.
Tune in to all of these different senses. It brings us into this present moment. It allows us to let go of some of that worry and focus on what\’s happening right now.
Number 2, talk to someone. Having another perspective, just like I did, being able to talk with Liza can shift things.
You can shift you out of that place of feeling worried about what will happen and step back into the presence of what\’s going on right now. Right. It\’s all simply perception and there\’s multiple ways for things to play out. And so sometimes when you have a conversation with somebody, it informs things in a different way. But it also moves the conversation out of your head and into the present moment right now. So you get to be present with somebody.
Number three is disengage from your device. This connects back with your senses, right? So put the phone down, focus on where you are and bring your thoughts and emotions to what you were doing in this given moment. Phones, and I am one of those people, too, that if I\’m just standing in line or waiting at a checkout or something, I\’ll pull out my phone and check Instagram, check, Facebook, check, email, those types of things. Make it a practice, though, to disengage a little bit from your device when you feel that initial push to say go and check it, maybe put it in your pocket and just tune in and say, what am I feeling right now? What\’s going on, what\’s happening around me? And practice being present right now.
Or set an intention. Making a clear choice can be a powerful tool. When you sit an intention, you are making an internal choice. This gives your mind and thoughts the direction they need to focus on the thing that you choose.
You can set an intention that says, I\’m going to be fully present for the next hour while I\’m with my friends or here at work or wherever you decide to be focused. Simply setting an intention allows you to have focused thoughts and focused time.
Number five, write down five things you\’re grateful for in your life right now. Gratitude is an excellent focuser. It realigns your focus into the present with what is here right now for you.
Number six, choose to engage with where you are right now. For me, it was getting down on my son\’s level and talking with him, holding his hand, laughing together. It shifted where my focus was from, looking at this line and thinking about all the reasons that things would go slowly to being there and being present for the exact thing that I was there to be present for. It made a wonderful difference and a good shift.
And then number seven is more of an overall one. It\’s simply actively choosing to be present throughout the day. Being present is really a practice. You can set an alarm and your phone to go off every hour as a reminder to tune into one of these activities, you can use bright lights as a reminder to just check in with yourself if you\’re in a car a lot. Find some cue in your day that you can use to intentionally reconnect with who you are and what is going on right now.
When it comes to worry, remember, you can choose what you think about and how you think something will play out. You also do have control over yourself. And while the outcome may not be entirely in your control, what you do, is. Choose to be present, make the best choices you can, and allow things to play out better than you had imagined.
If you enjoyed this podcast and found something in it useful, please share it with your friends so they can benefit from it too. I would be hugely grateful and be sure to tag me in social media so I can say thank you @sharpteambetterbydesign or @IamAndrewSharp.
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All right, everybody, thank you so much for tuning in. Have a great rest of your day. Thank you for listening.
Do you ever worry about things in the past?
Chances are you don\’t because they have already happened.
When you recognize that worry is fully future focused and purely based in imagination, you can make the choice to choose to imagine different outcomes.
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