Tag Archives: worry

A Little Happier: One of My Favorite Images for Letting Go of Grief

I’ve been haunted — and comforted — by this passage from Ruth Ozeki’s wonderful novel, A Tale for the Time Being.

In the novel, Nao, who’s a teenage girl in Japan, is very worried about several serious problems, and she’s reflecting on a conversation she’d had with her great-grandmother, who is a Buddhist nun:

It’s the cold fish dying in your stomach feeling. You try to forget about it, but as soon as you do, the fish starts flopping around under your heart and reminds you that something truly horrible is happening.

 

[Great-grandmother] Jiko felt like that when she learned that her only son was going to be killed in the war. I know, because I told her about the fish in my stomach, and she said she knew exactly what I was talking about, and that she had a fish, too, for many years. In fact, she said she had lots of fishes, some that were small like sardines, some that were medium-sized like carp, and other ones that were as big as a bluefin tuna, but the biggest fish of all belonged to Haruki #1, and it was more like the size of a whale. She also said that after she became a [Buddhist] nun and renounced the world, she learned how to open up her heart so that the whale could swim away.

I love this line…she learned how to open up her heart so that the whale could swim away.

Not to overcome grief, or forget grief, or leave grief behind, but to release it into the great depths.

Listen to this mini-podcast episode by clicking PLAY below.

Check out Yogi Tea. When it comes to enjoying life, little moments — like drinking a delicious cup of tea — can make a big difference.

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Are You a Worrier? Three Tips to Worry Less.

I worry to some extent, of course, but I don’t think I worry as much as a lot of people.

Many people worry about how much they worry!

Today, the New York Times had an interesting article by Roni Caryn Rabin, “Worried? You’re Not Alone.

In it, Rabin points out several intriguing findings in a Liberty Mutual Insurance research paper, the “Worry Less Report.”

Apparently Millennials worry about money. Single people worry about housing (and money). People worry less as they grow older.

Some people — for instance, like my sister Elizabeth — feel that if they do worry about something, they’ll somehow prevent a bad thing from happening. Rabin points out, very sensibly, “Researchers say this notion is reinforced by the fact that we tend to worry about rare event, like plane crashes, and are reassured when they don’t happen, but we worry less about common events, like car accidents.”

Rabin also distinguishes between “productive worry,” which helps us solve a problem, and worry where you’re just, well, stewing in worry.

According to the report, here are some ways to tackle worrying:

1. Break your worry into separate pieces, and tackle them one by one.

Identify the problem (my Eighth Personal Commandment), clarify your goals, try to think of solutions. “Grab a pen and paper and brainstorm…studies have show this approach can help ease depression and anxiety.”

2. Schedule time to worry.

Elizabeth and I discuss this at length in episode 56 of the Happier podcast.

3. Practice accepting uncertainty.

Consider what you can and can’t change or affect. Why worry about whether it’s going to rain? All you can do is bring an umbrella. Relatedly, for me, is the worry that arises when I need to make a choice among several options. Often, I’ll be thinking of one option, and I’ll have some worry about it — then I’ll remember, “This worry applies to all the options, so I don’t need to take it into account.” For instance, a friend told me, “I’m worried that if my daughter goes to college X, she’ll have trouble making friends.” But the daughter will face the challenge of making friends at any college she attends; there was nothing about college X that would make that it more difficult to make friends there. So it’s not a worry to consider in making the decision among colleges.

This discussion reminds me of a wonderful children’s book, Kevin Henkes’s Wemberly Worried.  “‘Worry, worry, worry!’ said her grandmother. ‘Too much worry.'”

Are you a “worrier”? Have you found some good strategies to manage your worrying?

Podcast 56: Schedule Time to Worry, Beware of Loopholes, and Dealing with a Troublesome Writers’ Accountability Group.

It’s time for the next installment of  “Happier with Gretchen Rubin.

Update: Elizabeth is with me in the studio, because she’s in New York City shooting a TV pilot. So glamorous! But she’s so busy, I hardly get to see her.

In less exciting news, Jamie and I have a new duvet cover. (Note, when I took this photo, we were one decorative pillowcase short, now we’ve fixed that, too. Victory.) If you missed the kerfuffle related to the duvet cover, listen to episode 52.
duvetcover

Try This at Home: Schedule time to worry.  See above for Johnny Cash’s to-do list.

Strategy for Habit Change: We discuss the hilarious Strategy of Loophole-Spotting. I love all ten hilarious, popular categories of loopholes. We also mention the Evil Donut-Bringer. Which is your favorite loophole?

Listener Question: “I’m an Obliger, and I started a writing group. But some people stopped turning in their pages, and now others have stopped submitting.” If you want a starter kit for launching an accountability group, it’s here. We’re talking about Obligers, which is one of the Four Tendencies.

Gretchen’s Demerit: I narrowly missed getting a demerit for not observing Leap Day — but in the end, I did make a festive plan for my daughters and me. To read about our last Leap Day, which was more elaborate, read here.

Elizabeth’s Gold Star: Elizabeth’s iPad Pro is changing her life. Any suggestions for the perfect tote bag?

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1pixHappier with Gretchen Rubin - Podcast #56

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Do You Have an Image that Calms You? Like a Clock During a Thunderstorm.

“Quiet minds cannot be perplexed or frightened, but go on in fortune or misfortune at their own private pace, like a clock during a thunderstorm.”
-Robert Louis Stevenson

I love this image, and often recall it to my mind when I feel anxious or harried.

Do you have an image that calms you?