Are You Thinking Too Much to be Happy?

by Margaret Manning

Women over 60 have a lot on our minds. In fact, you could argue that, as a group, we are thinking too much. We worry about our kids, so far away and yet so close to our hearts. We obsess about whether we have saved enough for retirement. We wonder whether we will be able to stay healthy and fit in the coming decades.

We worry about… well, pretty much everything actually. And that’s the problem.

While most of us are worried about the future, far too few of us are actually doing something about it. Unfortunately, as Mary Schmich told the graduating class of 97, “Don’t worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum.”

So, what’s the solution? If worrying won’t solve our problems, what will?

Start by Realizing that Happiness is a Verb

Have you ever noticed that he happiest people tend to be the ones that are most active? That’s not a coincidence. These people aren’t active because they are happy. They are happy because they are active.

The first step to finding lasting happiness is admitting to yourself that you are the one who is in control of your destiny.

Happiness is not going to come to you. You cannot will your problems away. You have to take action.

Learn the Art of Turning Your Big Worries Into Small Actions

One of the most important skills to teach yourself, if you want to find lasting happiness, is how to turn your worries into actions.

Most of us look for complex solutions to our biggest problems. Unfortunately, on a practical level, problems are almost never solved this way. There is seldom a “silver bullet” that will cure your financial problems, give you a rich and fulfilling social life or get you in the best shape of your life.

The alternative is to think big, but, act small. For example, let’s say that you are worried about your weight. If you are like most people, your thoughts will probably bounce between regret (“How did I let this happen?”), self-pity (“I hate how I look”) and big solutions (“I need to join a gym”).

What’s the alternative? Think big and act small. The moment that you start worrying about your weight, do something about it. If it’s convenient, get up and stretch. If not, schedule time for a 20-minute walk later in the day. Do 1-minute of gentle yoga. Do 5 sit-ups. Just do something.

If you want to learn more about how to use simple actions to improve your life, check out this article on how to accomplish anything in 1 minute a day.

What About Big Changes?

To be clear, I’m not saying that making big changes in your life isn’t important. If you want to get in the best shape of your life, joining a gym or taking up a sport is a fantastic idea. I’m simply saying that small positive actions are more likely to drive you to make big changes in your life than worries.

Learning to turn your worries into small positive actions is the first step. Then, as you gain confidence, you will naturally gravitate towards larger lifestyle changes. So, by all means, fantasize about weightlifting 4 times a week, but, start by taking a relaxing walk around your neighborhood.

Do you sometimes find yourself thinking too much? What positive strategies have you found when it comes to dealing with your own worries? Do you agree that small steps are often more important than big ideas when it comes to getting the most from life? Please join the conversation.

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