What a deal of foolish and unnecessary trouble we often give ourselves by taking upon our own feeble shoulders a bigger share of the burden of life than is properly our due!
How we worry and fret and fume, and grow careworn and anxious by brooding over troubles which will probably never come to us, and which in any case we have no power to prevent.
Anxiety is a costly expenditure of strength: it is literally power being wasted, for the forces of the mind being concentrated in the unprofitable employment of worrying are thus drawn away from other and healthier channels, so that we are actually unfitting ourselves to meet trouble by the very anxiety lest it should come to us.
In some such way as this has originated the saying that the happy-go-lucky careless folk are the fortunate ones.
Worry uses up the vital forces of the body, thus depleting it of both physical and mental strength and energy, so that a weakened body cannot enjoy its labors, and a poorly-nourished brain can think neither clearly nor strongly. The judgment becomes warped, the temper tried, nervous irritability sets in and—the doctor orders a change of air and a good rest.
With change, not so much of air, but of scene and surroundings, with a complete rest from the usual routine of work and of responsibilities, with food taken with more enjoyment consequent upon the returning appetite, the health may be restored and the nerves once more strengthened. But what then? Are the same old methods to be again adopted? Is the mind to be allowed to get once more into the old ruts, to worry and grow anxious?
Or shall we at this holiday season calmly face the facts of life and make a great resolve to work in future on another pattern? To resolve, not vaguely as in the days of our youthful New Year's resolutions, when we determined to be kind to everybody, never to be bad-tempered, to get up early, and so forth: but a definite distinct plan must be formed. "Don't worry" is a good motto; and "Why worry? " a sensible question, but these alone are not enough.
If we would really and truly free ourselves from the worrying habit, we must change our mental outlook, so that we are able to discern the relative value of things in their true perspective. We must also change our habits of thought. It has been well said, "Habits of thought determine the soul's destiny," therefore, if we would become more hopeful, joyous, courageous and at peace we must see to it that our thoughts travel in future along new lines, that better and wiser habits of thought are formed.
One of the best ways of overcoming this natural tendency of some minds towards anxiety, and the making troubles of trifles, is to put ourselves into touch with broader and bigger ideas of life and of life's meaning.
Immersed as many are in the petty cares of every-day life, these trifles are apt to assume huge proportions, and the mind becomes narrowed, the horizon bounded, and we find ourselves shrinking in spirit, taking biased views and growing daily more cramped in our sympathies and warped in our judgment. Let us, at this point, take a good look at ourselves as though we were looking at another; try to picture the true state of affairs and then boldly break down the walls of our narrow enclosure, and realize once for all that we are living in God's world, not only or principally in No. 2, —Villas, that we and our dear ones are under the protecting care of the ever-loving Father, and in calm trustfulness let us learn to rely upon His wise ordering of all things.
Come, look upon the sea, ye troubled ones, or go forth upon the hill or mountain-side, and drink in somewhat of the grandeur, the wideness, the truth of Nature. Try to under-stand something of the underlying principles of things, and by a calm, quiet waiting upon Nature you will be tilled with the Spirit of Peace, Confidence and Trust in the Eternal Wisdom and the never-failing Love. Go as often as you can into God's beautiful World of Nature amongst the flowers, the trees and the birds, and let these messengers of His speak inspiration and benediction to your soul. But remember that when you are not able to convey your physical body to their presence you may yet in thought and memory call them up before your mind's eye and live again in the summer woodland, joy again at the sight of the grand old ocean, and learn over again the lessons of the past.
But there is yet one other way. It is possible to dispense with all these beautiful physical agents which bring us messages of peace. We may, if we are ready, gain our inspiration and help from spiritual sources direct without the need of the more cumbrous physical intermediary.
Those who know the secret of "quiet waiting upon God" will gladly testify how their strength has been renewed, and how all the little worries have melted away like snow in the sunshine, and the mountain of anxiety has become a plain.
Let us, then, form the habit of this "quiet waiting," so shall we find ourselves at the hidden spring of all peace and strength, and in simple trustfulness shall experience the glad realization of the poet that—
Flows around our incompleteness,
Round our restlessness His rest.
—Elizabeth Barrett Browning