I seem to have everything but I am not happy

Hi Chris!

I seem to be worrying endlessly. Especially at night. I seem to lie awake with my mind full of anxieties about my wife, work or money. My friends probably think I’ve got it made, with a good job, a good partner, and a full social life. But I always feel something’s missing. 

What might that be? And how do I get to worry less?

Worried

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Hi Worried!

Worries like that are usually based on incorrect expectations about how life works.

Bishop who fought for Kenyans  

Like we’re brought up to believe that life makes sense. But life isn’t a novel, where everything’s neat and tidy by the end. Real life often makes no sense at all.

So accept that life’s messy! And instead of worrying, put a feeling of progress into your life by completing a few small tasks every day, especially the things you tend to put off. The feeling that you’re getting things done is a good first step towards worrying less. 

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We’re also told that we shouldn’t have to change for anyone else - such as our spouse for example. But that also implies that when things go wrong you have to wait for someone else to put them right.

A better approach is to focus on what you could do for yourself to make things better. That doesn’t mean giving in to whatever’s going wrong. But it does put you more in control of the situation. And feeling in control’s another step towards worrying less.

You probably also feel bad whenever you’re not busy. Because we’re told that that’s the only way to succeed. Well, it’s true that everyone needs to work hard. But you’ll feel a lot happier if you also set aside a few minutes each day for quietly doing ‘nothing.’ Listening to music, reading or prayer for example. 

Modern marketing also tells us that we’re supposed to look perfect, and must try to hold back the years. But looking after yourself’s one thing. Everything else is a waste of time. So accept that you’ll grow older and enjoy each day as it comes.

Worst of all is the feeling that you’ll only be happy after you’ve got your next promotion or raise. But however much we strive for them, they never bring lasting satisfaction. You feel good for a bit, then everything’s just as before. What brings contentment is not status or possessions, but a feeling of achievement.

So put your energy into activities that are important, challenging and enjoyable. Whether at work, in your marriage, or with your children. And you’ll find you’re worrying far less.

All the best,

Chris.  

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