This mantra sounds so simple and so obvious, so why even talk about it? It’s a no brainer. It’s like saying, “only think of happy things and you will be happy.” Well, duh. The challenge here is that when our emotions are high, or we are worrying about something, we are not in the best state of mind. We are like a boxer fighting when we are furious, or a basketball player playing a game the same night of a significant argument with a family member. Our heads just are not in the game. We can’t think, we just aimlessly do.
We can all agree that, generally speaking, we do our best work when we are level headed and calm. That is what this mantra is saying. When your mind is focusing on something you fear, you can’t concentrate and perform at your best. So when this happens, repeat to yourself, “keep your thoughts on the things you want and keep them off the things you fear.”
Will Smith’s Story
We have all heard the expression, “fake it till you make it.” The art of pretending to be something until you are that thing. If you want to be happy and at peace, immediately signal your mind to get rid of any bad thoughts and replace them with good thoughts. This is important if you want peace in your life. I watched a Will Smith interview where he was talking about going out for a night on the town with the guys. They were out celebrating some special event. While having a few too many drinks, someone suggested they go sky diving the next day. With alcohol soaring through his veins and his drunken courage, he agrees to sky diving. Will has never been sky diving before, but out with the guys, full of alcohol, he agrees to go.
The plan is to meet the next day, late in the morning to take the leap. When Will woke up, he remembered the fear hitting him. Misbelieving he agreed to the sky diving, he knew he couldn’t back out. He can’t “punk out” in front of his friends. So, all morning, from the time time he got up, through breakfast, and all the way to the sky diving place, he said that this fear just lived in his mind. He couldn’t enjoy his breakfast or anything he did that morning because the fear of the jump just took over.
He spoke of arriving to the sky diving place. He remembers meeting up with his friends, the instructions he was given, and the fear he felt up to the minute he was at the opening of the door, ready to jump. He spoke of how he was consumed by his fear all morning. The hours of worrying from the time he woke up to the time his toes were on the ledge of the door ready to jump. He was instructed to jump on the count of three. “One……two” and they pushed him out. Apparently they push you on two so that you are surprised. This way they avoid an awkward launch if the person is too afraid and pushes back.
Will said that once he was pushed, the sense of fear left him. He felt the most extreme joy and happiness. He said it was awesome…the freedom…the excitement. Once he had some time to reflect on the experience, he concluded that sometimes complete joy and happiness is right on the other side of fear. And if we don’t challenge ourselves to do things, we won’t be able to live our lives to the fullest. Now, this is a great story, and I love how Will tells it, as I have been a big fan ever since he was the Fresh Prince. But my focus here is on how he lost an entire morning of his life. The fear and the sickness consumed him all morning. He was worried about something that wasn’t really a problem until the moment he was at the door of the plane ready to jump. He wasn’t able to keep his thoughts on the things he wanted, but was consumed by the thing he feared. A whole morning of potential happiness lost due to a fear that didn’t matter until the moment he had to stare it in the face.
The take away here is that you can spend tons of time worrying or fearing something in your life. You could worry for two weeks awaiting the test results from the doctor. Maybe you are unable to sleep out of fear of having that root canal tomorrow at the dentist office. At the end of the day, the thing you fear doesn’t really matter until you are faced with it. So why cheat yourself out of every moment in between? Enjoy each moment of your life. Don’t worry about things in the future, stealing the joy from the current moment. I understand that this is definitely easier said than done. But you have to make an effort to try. For your own sanity. When I feel this happening to me, I try to use Mel Robbins’ “5 Second Rule.” This is where you stop yourself and count down slowly from five. “5-4-3-2-1.” This signals a different part of your brain, allowing you to gain some control over it. After that, think of a happier thought. I know this can be tough, but give it a try when you are worrying or fearing something that is stealing your peace of mind.