Don’t worry. Do. If nothing can be done, don’t worry.

This one is at the very top of my manifesto for very good reason, it is the single most important guiding daily principle I have. If it were not for this, I would be an insane, crazy making, bi-polar mess. You see, what really triggers the feelings of depression and anxiety that would otherwise rule my life, is stress. This is one of the reasons that personal productivity systems like Getting Things Done appealed to me. Just look at the subtitle – “The art of stress-free productivity” (emphasis mine). Stress is very bad for many reasons for most people. Based on my history, it is even more so for me.

The fact is, and I know most will find this hard to believe, stress is completely avoidable. Really. It is. It is as easy to avoid as going through the simple process that is distilled in this entry of my manifesto. You see, a lot of stress is caused by worry. Worry over getting something done at work. Worry over having too much to do and not being able to do it all. Worry over how your relationship with your significant other is going. Worry over bills or money. You get the point.

Whenever I feel worry coming on, worry that will lead to stress (and thus suffering) – due to a situation with work, a relationship, a bill I have to pay but can’t because I don’t have the money, whatever – I go through this little circus of logic in my head:

1) Worry takes energy, a lot of energy.

2) If it is something that I can do something about, than I should spend that energy doing something towards resolving the thing that worries me instead of worrying about it.

3) If it is something that I can’t do anything about, than there is no point in expending energy (worry or otherwise) towards it because it has no effect on changing the situation. Therefore, don’t worry. It will cause only suffering.

Now, I will take this moment to tell you that a lot of my feelings on this these ideas derive from my belief in Buddhist philosophy. I wont delve too deeply here but let me just go on record and say that the idea of worry and it’s many names and causes (want, greed, ignorance, desire, etc.) is addressed very highly in Buddhism in what is called The Four Noble Truths. Should you read further you will find a lot of parallels therein.

The bottom line is this – we are all in complete control of our own suffering. Therefore, we are in complete control of ending it. All we have to do is, logically, convert energy to action or, where appropriate, convert energy to peace. Is it as simple as I make it sound here? No. I am human after all. I struggle with truly being worry/stress free. But I can tell you that it has become a lot more easy since adopting this approach. I can also tell you that my struggles with depression and anxiety are effectively won in large part because of this belief.