Worry and Concern

Angkor Thom, Siem Reap, CambodiaOne of the things that I decided to do when I gave up my possessions to pursue a life of experience and adventure was to also, try to, give up on worries. I am not much of a believer in things metaphysical but I do believe that constant worry about negative situations can crowd out the energy and desire required to make them better. When a situation requires action, you take action, and constant worry or fear of worst case negative outcomes clouds clear thinking.

This is not a “care free” attitude and shouldn’t be considered analogous to lack of concern. Concern is knowing a potential problem exists and may require a solution. It acknowledges that a problem may exist and perhaps should be considered when decisions – that involve that concern – come up. Worry is just an empty personal mind game not necessarily requiring any action. Concern is a thoughtful awareness of realty where positive action or having a plan may improve the situation. Worry is mindless obsession requiring no action.

Worry is not compassionate. Compassion requires thought and empathy. Worry is a personal apprehension and often void of thought or empathy. Concern REQUIRES empathy. Concern implies action. For example – if you are truly concerned about someone walking home alone at night you may take the time and go with them. Worrying about them getting home safe means they are on their own. “Let me know when you get home so I can [selfishly] quit WORRYING”. Being concerned about humanity implies that you may take action to make things better. Being worried about humanity implies knowledge of the human condition but that you choose to be frozen and take no action.

I am more optimistic now because I actively try not to worry. This optimistic lack of worry could be misinterpreted as a lack of concern but it is just the opposite. It is a hope for the best and an expectation that the best could happen. Naïveté? No, I see it as the opposite. It is an acceptance of all possible outcomes as they could truly exist and not WORRYING about the worst. Buddhists believe that if things will be okay someday, they are okay right now. Fix the problems you can, accept the ones you can’t and let go of the worry.

Ultimately time is the only thing we truly have and it is limited so I choose not to poison it with worry. If worry is your choice, then I am concerned for you and I hope that in some small way this little rant may help. I am concerned about many things. I try, but sometimes fail, to worry about nothing.

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Author: Jonathan Look

In 2011 Jonathan Look decided to change his life and pursue adventures instead of comfort and possessions. His goal is to travel the world solo; one country at a time, one year at a time. To accomplish this he got rid of most of his possessions, packed up what little he saw as necessities and headed out. His goal is to spend ten years discovering new places, meeting new people and taking the time to learn about them, their values and their place on this tiny planet. He embraces the philosophy that says a person is the sum of their experiences and rejects the fraud of modern consumerism that makes people into slaves of their consumption. He doesn't intend to be modern day ascetic, just more mindful of his place in the world and to make decisions according to that new standard.

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