How Much of Your Time Will You Waste Today Worrying?

We do a lot of things that don’t really bring us contentment. We do a lot of things that steal some of our joy. Not to say that it’s easy, of course. It’s not easy.

 

By Daniel Scharpenburg

 

“Take all the courage you have left
Wasted on fixing all the problems that you made in your own head.”

-Mumford and Sons

 

We waste a lot of mental energy; we are wasting it all the time.

I only use the word “waste” because we could be using our mental energy for other things, and much of the time we don’t realize we’re wasting it in the first place, but we’re squandering our time and attention.

This is a famous Zen saying:

“Great is the matter of birth and death. Impermanence surrounds us. Do not waste your life!”

When we put down our baggage and stop obsessing over bullshit that doesn’t matter, then we can direct our energy toward other things. Arguing with people on the internet takes mental energy that could be directed toward productive things—that’s something I’ve struggled with. I can tell, just from looking at social media, that it’s also something a lot of people struggle with all the time.

When we think too much about how other people live their lives, this takes mental energy that could be used for other things.

I see people say things like, “I can’t believe that person dresses like that,” or “This hairstyle trend is stupid,”…and I just shake my head and think, well, I don’t have time to worry about that.

How much time do we spend worrying about things that aren’t happening? There are plenty of realistic things to worry about, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. I experienced some uncertainty with my job a couple years ago and I was a wreck (the huge employer I work for was shut down for a day). I was so worried about what ultimately turned out to be one (paid) day off. I was afraid that I could be out of work for weeks, or months. That is an absurd fear that no one else was really worried about. As a kid I was the very rare child who worried about being alone for the rest of his life at the age of 8. The point is I’m a bit of a worrier sometimes, but I hope I’m getting better.

How much do we worry about nonsense like I did?

When we aren’t genuine or wearing a mask and when we don’t show people who we really are—that takes up a lot of mental energy. We tend to build walls around ourselves. Some of us do it more than others. But if we spend any time worrying that someone will see through the façade we’re trying to build…well, that’s energy that could be used for other things too.

We could be spending our time being real instead.

I wonder how much happier we can be if we can just put all that stuff down. That’s the thing I really want to emphasize. We do a lot of things that don’t really bring us contentment. We do a lot of things that steal some of our joy. Not to say that it’s easy, of course. It’s not easy.

The poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

The world is constantly trying to make us stay in the daydream, but we have the power to wake up.

We have the power to change what we’re doing, to change our focus. So let’s see if we can shift things around a little.

From The Ceasing of Notions:

Emmon asked, “If all existing things are empty, why can only buddhas see this and not ordinary people?” Master Nyuri replied: “It is obscured by the working of error but becomes clear in the stillness of truth.”

 

 

The world is constantly trying to make us stay in the daydream, but we have the power to wake up. ~ Daniel Scharpenburg Click To Tweet

 

 

Photo: Pixabay

Editor: Dana Gornall

 

Did you like this post? You might also like:

In All Activites: Practice, It is All Sacred {Lojong Teaching}

  By Daniel Scharpenburg This is important to remember because people get confused and lost sometimes. The path of the Bodhisattva isn't something we're just doing on the cushion or in the temple. Well, maybe it is, but it isn't supposed to be....

Raw: My Journey from Anxiety to Joy {Book Review}

  By Kathleen Willis Amid a lovely recollected scene in which a healer that Mahaya Carter has gone to see tenderly turned her in each direction to pray and gather blessings, she quotes the Indian poet Tagore, “For years I have been stringing and...

The First Buddhist Teaching: The Four Noble Truths

  By Daniel Scharpenburg The Four Noble Truths are the beginning of Buddhism. They are the first thing the Buddha taught, and sometimes we have to go back to these fundamental teachings over and over. I'm going to go through them one by one here. The Truth of...

People Ask, Why are You Buddhist? This is Why:

  By Daniel Scharpenburg   “I seek to cure what’s deep inside, frightened by this thing that I’ve become.” -Toto   I'm often asked by people, "Why are you Buddhist?" The Buddha felt the unease of life, the same unease that we often feel today....

Comments

comments

Daniel Scharpenburg

Daniel lives in Kansas City. He runs Fountain City Meditation. Daniel is an ordained Teacher of Chan Buddhism in the Dharma Winds Tradition. He believes that meditation teachings can be shared with a little more simplicity and humility than we often see. He has been called "A great everyman teacher" and "Really down-to-earth"

Find out more about Daniel here and connect with him on Facebook
(Visited 103 times, 1 visits today)