I do not believe we were meant to be static, non-changing entities, however, we live in a world that attempts to maintain a sense of security.  We want to control what will happen to us. I believe we do so out of a sense of fear. On a personal level, when I am caught up in trying to gain some sense of control of things outside myself, it causes anxiety, stress and worry. Those are all feelings that are counter to how I would like to feel: joy, contentment, wonder and happiness.

I can’t control the weather, I can’t control the stock market, I can’t control my obnoxious uncle at family gatherings and I certainly cannot control the person eating four loud crunchy apples a day in the cubicle next to me. Sometimes, if I really strain (late night planning) and exert a lot of influence (praise) and manipulation (treats), I can convince myself that I was the reason my dog didn’t chew my shoe up, for once, only to find he did chew one the next day! If I really dig into the root of those scenarios, I find out I am merely avoiding something that causes me fear. I’m afraid my pipes will freeze, and I won’t have water because of the weather. I am afraid the stocks will crash, and I won’t have money to live on after I retire. I am afraid to engage my uncle in a meaningful conversation because I do not know what will happen if I try to get to know him.

If you are like me, stressing over things I cannot control only causes more stress. The answer is simple, practice courage. Every instance of fear is an opportunity to become better at courage. I am constantly surprised how courageous I can be at times and, in the very next breath, how paralyzed by fear I can be. The more I can manage to practice courage; the more I manage to find instances of joy, contentment, wonder and happiness!


Tim Barnes