Tree of Knowledge
By Swami Swaroopananda
Anxiety is an emotion that we all experience. Anxiety, as well as all the other emotions, can actually be turned around to our advantage. When we use the right amount, in the right place, at the right time, for the right thing, then these feelings can have a positive effect. When we use the wrong amount, at the wrong place, at the wrong time, for the wrong reasons, they become negative. Excessive brooding over the future or regret for the past gives rise to worry or anxiety. Let us see how we can use the word worry to remind us how to avoid worry.
Worry starts with the letter ‘W’. We always think of the worst. When we are conducting our business, we worry: “What if I can’t make any money? What if there is a loss?’’ We never ask, “What if I make a profit?’’ Worry always arises from this negative tendency in our minds. Yet, very often, when we have believed that the worst would happen, instead, something good happened!
Whenever you recognise the symptom of worry, check this out yourself. You will be thinking about the negative possibilities. Don’t think about the worst, think instead about the Wonderful things that might happen.
The letter ‘O’ stands for optimism, and this means refusing to become obsessed with the results of your actions. Think positively about the result, but don’t be obsessed with it. Sometimes we get more benefit from our actions than we expected, and at other times, not quite what we hoped for. But if we are so obsessed with a particular result, we usually start thinking negatively. That is, we fear the worst. Why? Because we come to believe that the only good result is the one, we imagine we want. Thus, we become pessimistic rather than optimistic.
We cannot predict the future, we can only plan for it and work towards it to the best of our ability. Do not become obsessed about achieving a particular result. Who knows, the outcome may far exceed your expectations!
Constant worry not only arises from brooding over the future, but also from regretting the past. We are in the habit of forgetting all of the positive results from our past actions, and remembering only the negative things that have happened. How easily we gloss over all of the victories we have had in our lives and dig up minor failures from the past to reinforce our gloomy outlook.
So ‘R’ is to Remember all of the positive things from the past, and be optimistic for wonderful things in the future. Do not use your memory to think about the worst that has happened, and be filled with regret.
The next ‘R’ is for Restlessness. One major reason behind our anxiety for the future lies in our tendency to be physically restful and mentally restless. We want results but we don’t want to work for them. Have you noticed youngsters during examination time? They spend most of the time worried: Will I pass or not? Why does this worry come about? It is usually because they haven’t studied. Those who have worked hard and have worked properly for a result, for them there is no need to worry about anything.
Finally, we come to ‘Y’. This letter stands for ‘Yes’. Worry continues to haunt us because we say yes to the mind. There will be many situations where worry and anxiety will enter the mind. But do not say yes to the mind.
Make up your mind not to worry — that is the secret of controlling the mind. Once we have made up our minds, then all that we have learnt from spiritual texts like the Bhagavad Gita, and all that we learn from spiritual discourses will become effective. In Sanskrit the word for worry is “chinta”. A similar word, “chitaa” means the pyre that burns the dead. This chitaa, this pyre, burns us once when we are dead; but chinta burns us continuously while we are still alive!
Worry will enter the mind, but you must refuse to entertain it. Do not say ‘yes’ to worry. Say ‘no’ to worry and to all the sorrows in your life.
Swami Chinmayananda once thundered: “Refuse to be miserable!’’ Try it. It is the secret of life…
Swami Swaroopananda, current Global Head of Chinmaya Mission, is on his first visit to Mauritius, and will be conducting discourses entitled “Empower Your Mind” on June 3-6 evening at Plaza and a special talk for students and young professionals on “Born to Succeed” on June 3rd at 10.30 am at University of Mauritius.
For more information, visit www.chinmayamauritius.com/empoweryourmind
* Published in print edition on 17 May 2019