How to oust anxiety from your soul – Education section, How to stop worrying and start living I Will Never Forget That Evening A few Years Ago When Marie.
I will never forget that evening several years ago when Marion J. Douglas told the story of his life. He attended my courses. (I do not give his real name. He asked me for personal reasons not to disclose data about him.) Here is his true story, which he once told in class. He said that tragedy occurred in his house, and not once, but twice. For the first time, he lost his five-year-old daughter, whom he adored. He and his wife thought they could not bear this grief. “But ten months later,” he said, “God gave us another little girl, and she died five days later.
This double blow overwhelmed us. I could not survive it. I could not sleep, eat, rest, or relax. My nerves were completely shaken, and I lost faith in life. ” Finally, he went to the doctors. One of them prescribed sleeping pills for him, another doctor recommended him traveling. He tried to implement both recommendations, but nothing helped. He said: “I had the feeling that my body was squeezed in a vice, which tightened, stronger and stronger.” Grief fell upon him. If you have ever been morally paralyzed by grief, you will understand how he felt.
“But thank God, I have only one child left – a four-year-old son. He helped me solve my problem. One afternoon, when I sat alone, feeling infinite self-pity, he addressed me: “Dad, will you build me a boat?”" I was in no mood to build a boat; in fact, I could not do anything. But my son is a very stubborn kid. I had to give up. The construction of the toy boat took me three hours. When she was ready, I realized that for the first time in many months I had found peace of mind!
This discovery brought me out of a state of lethargy and made me think about the situation. For the first time in many months, I thought. I realized that anxiety is overcome when we are busy with planning and thinking activities. So, the construction of the boat muffled my grief. I decided to always be busy.
The next evening, I began to walk through the rooms, compiling a list of tasks to be performed. Many items needed to be repaired: bookcases, stairs, second window frames, curtains, door handles, locks, leaking taps. It seems striking that in two weeks I found 242 cases for myself.
Over the past two years I have performed most of them. In addition, I engaged in activities that stimulate my vitality. Twice a week, I attend adult education courses in New York. I am engaged in community activities in my hometown and am currently elected chairman of the school management committee. I attend dozens of meetings. I help to raise money in the Red Cross fund and do other activities. I am so busy now that I don’t have time to worry. ”
No time to worry! This was what Winston Churchill spoke about when he worked eighteen hours a day at the height of the war. When asked if he was worried about the huge responsibility that was placed on him, he replied: “I am too busy to have time to worry.”
Charles Kettering found himself in the same position when he began working on the invention of an automatic starter for cars. Mr. Kettering was subsequently vice president of General Motors. Only recently he retired. He headed the world famous research corporation firm General Motors. But at the beginning of his activities, he was so poor that he was forced to set up a laboratory in the barn. In order to pay for food, he had to take money from the one and a half thousand dollars received by his wife for piano lessons. Later he had to borrow five hundred dollars on the security of his insurance. I asked his wife if she was worried at such a difficult time. “Yes,” she replied, “I was so alarmed that I could not sleep, but Mr. Kettering was calm. He was too absorbed in his work to worry. ”
The great scientist, Pasteur, said that “peace of mind can be found in libraries and laboratories.” Why there? Because in libraries and laboratories, usually people are too absorbed in scientific problems, and they do not have time to worry about themselves. Scientists rarely experience nervous breakdowns. They have no time for such luxury.
Why such a simple thing as employment helps push out
anxiety? This is explained by one of the most basic laws revealed by psychology. This law consists in the following: for any human mind, even the most brilliant, it is impossible to think more than one thing in the same period of time. Are you not quite sure about this? Well then, let’s try to conduct an experiment.
Suppose you lie back in your chair, close your eyes and try at the same moment to think about the Statue of Liberty and what you intend to do tomorrow morning. (Try to do this.)
You have found, aren’t you, that you can think about this and the other in turn, but not simultaneously. Of course, the same thing happens in the realm of our emotions. We cannot feel good spirits, enthusiasm for an interesting business and at the same time be in a depressed mood. One kind of emotion displaces another. It was this simple discovery that allowed psychiatrists who worked in the army to perform such miracles during a war.
When the soldiers returned from the battlefield so shocked by the horrors they experienced, they were called “psychoneurotics”, the military doctors prescribed them to be “busy with something” as a medicine. Every minute of life of these people, shocked by their experiences, was filled with activity. Usually it took place in the open air. They were engaged in fishing, hunting, ball games, golf, photography, gardening and dancing. They had no time to remember the horrors they had experienced.
“Occupational therapy” is a term used in psychiatry when work is assigned as a medicine. This is not new. Ancient Greek doctors prescribed occupational therapy for five hundred years before our era!
Quakers used occupational therapy in Philadelphia during the time of Ben Franklin. The man who visited the Quaker sanatorium in 1774 was amazed to see that patients who were insane were spinning flax. He thought that the unfortunate exploit. But the Quakers explained to him that the patients’ health was indeed improving when they were doing their best for their activities. It calmed the nerves.
Any psychiatrist will tell you that work – work – is one of the best medicines for nerves. Henry W. Longfellow realized this when he lost his young wife. One day, his wife tried to melt a little wax by the flame of a candle, when suddenly her clothes caught fire. Longfellow heard his wife scream and tried to save her. But it was too late. She died from burns. For a while, Longfellow was so shocked by this terrible event that he almost lost his mind. But fortunately for him his three small children needed his attention. Despite his grief, Longfellow became both a father and a mother for them. He went for a walk with them, told them stories, played games with them. He captured his communication with them in the immortal poem “Children’s Hour”. At the same time, he began to translate Dante, and thanks to all these matters he was constantly busy and completely forgot about his grief. Only in this way was he able to regain peace of mind. As Tennyson said when he lost his closest friend Arthur Hallam: “I have to lose myself in activity, otherwise I will dry out of despair.”
For most of us, it is not difficult to “lose yourself in activity”, because every day we work without rest in the service and spin like squirrels in a wheel. But we still have hours after work, and they are the most dangerous. It is when we enjoy the rest and it seems that we should feel most happy that the devil of anxiety lurks us. After all, it is at these moments that we reflect on the fact that nothing has been achieved in life, that we are marking time; it seems to us that the boss “had something in mind” when he made his comment, or we regret balding.
When we are not busy, our brain tends to approach vacuum. Every physics student knows that “nature abhors a vacuum.” The closest vacuum we can ever see is the inside of an incandescent light bulb: Break this light bulb – and nature will force the air in there to fill the theoretically empty space.
Nature also hastily seeks to fill the idle brain. Than? As a rule, emotions. Why? Because emotions such as anxiety, fear, hatred, jealousy, and envy are triggered by the primal force and dynamic energy of the jungle. Such emotions are so strong that they force out all calm, happy thoughts and feelings from our soul.
James L. Mercell, a professor of pedagogy at Teachers College, DC, well expressed this thought with the following words: “Anxiety especially torments you not when you act, but when the day’s work is over. Then your imagination draws ridiculous pictures of life failures that allegedly have befallen you and exaggerates the slightest mistake. At this time, he continues, your brain resembles a motor acting without. load. It works at a breakneck pace, and there is a risk of the bearings burning out or its complete destruction. To cure anxiety, you must be fully engaged in doing something constructive. ”
You do not need to be a college professor to realize this truth and put it into practice. During the war, I met a Chicago housewife who told me how she discovered for herself that “the best cure for anxiety is an activity that consumes all the time and human strength.” I met this woman and her husband in a train restaurant car when I was driving from New York to my farm in Missouri. (Unfortunately, I did not ask for their names – I don’t like to give examples without giving names and addresses of people. Such details give truth to the story.);
This couple told me that their son joined the military the day after Pearl Harbor. The woman was always worried about her only son, it almost undermined her health. Where he was? Is he safe? Or in battle? Is he injured? Killed?
When I asked her how she had managed to overcome her anxiety, she replied: “I was busy.” It turned out that first of all she let go of her maid and began to do all the homework herself. But this did not help much either. “The trouble is,” she said, “that I did my homework almost automatically, my brain remaining inactive. Therefore, I continued to worry. The hard bed and my dishes, I understood that I needed another kind of work that would require me to concentrate my physical and mental strength every hour of the day. Then I started working as a saleswoman in a large department store. ”
“It helped me,” she said, “I immediately found myself in a vortex of vigorous activity: visitors constantly crowded around grinding, asking about prices, sizes and colors. I had no time to think about anything except my immediate duties. And when evening came, I only thought about how to get rid of pain in my legs. After dinner, I immediately went to bed and fell asleep, like a dead woman. I had neither the time nor the strength to worry. ”
She discovered for herself what John Cowper Powys wrote in the book “The Art of Forgetting the Unpleasant”: “Some pleasant feeling of security, some deep inner peace, a kind of happy oblivion soothes the nerves of a person when he is absorbed in the work assigned to him” .
That is our happiness! Ousa Johnson, the most famous traveler in the world, recently told me how she overcame anxiety and sadness1. You may have read her life story. She is called “I intermarried with adventures.” If any woman has intermarried with adventures, then it is she. Martin Johnson married her when she was sixteen years old. From the sidewalks of Chanuta, Kansas, he brought it to the paths in the wild jungles of Borneo. For a quarter of a century, this couple from Kansas traveled around the world, making films about the endangered wild animals of Asia and Africa. Nine years ago, they returned to America and went on a trip around the country with lectures and movies. They flew out of Denver on a plane that was supposed to land on the coast. The plane crashed into a mountain. Martin Johnson died instantly. Doctors told Owes that she would never get out of bed. But they did not know Ousa Johnson. Three months later, she moved into a wheelchair and lectured in front of huge audiences. In fact, she read over a hundred lectures — and all sitting in a wheelchair. When I asked her why she did it, Ousa replied: “I did it so that I did not have time for sadness and anxiety.”
Ousa Johnson discovered the same truth that Tennyson sang about a century ago: “I have to lose myself in action, otherwise I will dry out of despair.”
Admiral Baird discovered the same truth when he lived all alone for five months in a hut, literally buried under a huge ice sheet covering the South Pole. This shell keeps the most ancient secrets of nature and covers an unknown continent that is larger than the United States and Europe combined. Admiral Baird spent there alone for five months. Within a hundred miles there was not a single living thing. The cold was so fierce that he heard the exhaled air freeze and crystallize when the headwind blew in his face. In his book, Odin, Admiral Baird talks about the five months he spent in eternal, tormenting darkness. The days were as dark as nights. In order not to go crazy, he had to be busy all the time.
“In the evening,” he writes, “before the lamp is blown out, I, by habit, developed my work for tomorrow. For example, I set myself an hour to clear the rescue tunnel, half an hour to level snowdrifts, an hour to install iron barrels with fuel, an hour to cut bookshelves into the walls of the food tunnel, two hours to repair broken boards in a sleigh for transporting people. “
“It was wonderful,” he recalled, “to have the opportunity to allocate time in this way.” This allowed me to gain exclusive control over myself. “And adds:” Without this, the days would pass aimlessly, and life without a goal, as a rule, leads to the degradation of the individual. “
Pay attention to the last sentence: “Life without a goal, as a rule, leads to the degradation of the individual.” If you and I are worried about something, let’s think about an old-fashioned medical tool — about work. About this spoke of such authority as the late Dr. Richard S. Cabot, a former professor of clinical medicine at Harvard. In his book, What is the Meaning of People’s Life, Dr. Cabot writes: “As a doctor, I’m happy to see how work heals many people who suffer from tremulous paralysis of the soul caused by doubts, hesitations and fear. The courage our work gives us is almost the same self-confidence that Emerson has forever glorified. ”
If we are not busy, we sit and feel sad, then we are visited by a host of beings, which Charles Darwin used to call “spirits of despondency.” These spirits are nothing but the long-known evil gnomes, devastating our soul and destroying our ability to act and willpower.
I know a business man in New York who overcame these dwarfs because he was very busy and he had no time to worry and complain about life. His name is Tremper Longman. This man’s office is on Wall Street. He was a student of my adult courses. His story about overcoming the habit of worrying seemed so interesting and impressive that I invited him to dine with me in a restaurant after class, where we sat up almost until the morning. He told me the story of his life. Here is what he told me:
“Eighteen years ago, I was so concerned that I had insomnia. I was in constant tension, all the time irritated and nervous. I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
I had cause for concern. I was the treasurer of Fruit and Extract in New York. We have invested half a million dollars in the strawberry trade, packed in one-gallon jars. For twenty years we have been selling these banks to large ice cream companies. Suddenly, our trade stopped, because such large firms as National Deeri and Bordens began to dramatically increase the production of ice cream, and in order to save money and time they began to buy strawberries packed in barrels.
We not only didn’t sell berries bought for one and a half million dollars, but also signed a contract for the purchase of an additional batch of strawberries worth a million dollars. This contract was valid for the next twelve months. We have already lent three hundred and fifty thousand dollars in banks. We could neither pay our debt nor delay payment. No wonder I was worried!
I rushed to Watsonville, California, where our factory was located. I tried to convince the president of the company that the conditions have changed and we face complete ruin. He refused to believe it. He believed that our failure was the fault of the New York office, the inability to sell products.
I spent a few days trying to persuade him to stop packing the strawberries in cans and sell our entire stock on the market for fresh berries in San Francisco. It almost completely solved our problems. I should immediately stop worrying, but it was not in my power. Anxiety is a habit, and I have already acquired it.
When I returned to New York, I became worried about any reason: because of the cherries we bought in Italy, because of the pineapples bought in the Hawaiian Islands, etc. I was under stress, I became nervous, I could not sleep. As I said, I was threatened with a nervous breakdown.
In desperation, I began to lead a lifestyle that cured me of insomnia and relieved anxiety. I uploaded myself to work. I took over the business, requiring the concentration of all my abilities. Thus, I did not have time to worry. I usually worked seven hours a day. Now I started working fifteen and sixteen hours a day. I came to the office every day at eight in the morning and stayed there almost until midnight. I took on new responsibilities, new responsibilities. Coming home at midnight, I was so exhausted that I immediately went to bed and fell asleep after a few seconds.
I have been running this program for three months. During this time, I overcame the habit of worrying and therefore began to work again seven to eight hours a day. This event happened eighteen years ago. Since then, I have not suffered from insomnia and got rid of anxiety. ”
George Bernard Shaw was right. He summed it all up, saying: “The secret of our misfortunes is that we have too much leisure to think about whether we are happy or not.” So let’s stop thinking about it! Roll up your sleeves and get busy, your blood will begin to circulate more actively; your brain will start to work faster – and your vitality will increase very soon, which will help you to forget about anxiety. Be busy. Always stay busy. This is the cheapest medicine on earth – and one of the best.
To end the habit of worrying, follow the first rule:
Be busy. A person suffering from anxiety must completely forget about work, otherwise he will dry out of despair.