Did you know that 95% of the things we worry about never happen… which just goes to prove worrying works!!! OK, that’s not the real message behind this statistic, but some of us devote so much time to worry – you’d think worrying itself has magical powers.

Worry is one of the main reasons people seek counseling. “What if my spouse leaves me?” “What if I lose my job?” “What if the tests come back positive?” “What if my son is using drugs?” These are very serious matters in life, not to be taken lightly. Here are a few other questions to consider: Do these concerns stir me up to live differently or do they discourage me and drain me of hope? Do they draw me into the present moment to “seize the day”, or keep me sedentary as I fret about a future that is largely beyond my control?

Let’s consider the questions above. What if something unwanted does happen? What will you do then? Sometimes people aren’t really looking to develop a gameplan. These obsessive questions aren’t leading them to find solutions or initiate change. They hinder them from living life. We may prefer to think about how difficult life would be or imagine that we couldn’t handle it. We paralyze ourselves because we have chosen to fight tomorrow’s phantoms which may never come. In Matthew 6:34 Jesus said, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Jesus redirects His disciples to live today.

To reduce fear and anxiety about the unknown immediately set aside thoughts about things you can’t control: the weather, your spouse, the Broncos’ offense, traffic – you get the idea. The only things you can control are your own behaviors and attitudes in the here and now. By focusing on the things you can control you either draw people near, which increases your influence and the likelihood of a positive outcome, or you push people away, which decreases your influence and the likelihood of positive outcome.

What can you do now, in the present, to draw people near? A smile is probably the quickest and simplest step. Could you be more engaging, find something to enjoy or laugh about, and invite others along? I have one client who works at a large prestigious corporation who decided he would skip as if he were in Oz every day from his car to his office. He told me on the days he chose to skip he felt more alive, was more productive, and found that people engaged more easily with him.

Unfortunately, many of us wait until something horrible invades our lives before we get busy with the things that matter. One of my favorite songs is about a man who found his life in the balance and learns the lesson of living for today. I hope you find these words inspiring.

He said I was in my early forties
with a lot of life before me
when a moment came that stopped me on a dime
and I spent most of the next days
looking at the x-rays
talking bout the options
and talking bout sweet time
I asked him when it sank in
that this might really be the real end
how’s it hit you when you get that kinda news
man what’d you do

and he said
I went sky diving
I went Rocky Mountain climbing
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named FuManchu
and I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter
and I gave forgiveness I’d been denying
and he said someday I hope you get the chance
to live like you were dying.

He said I was finally the husband
that most the time I wasn’t
and I became a friend a friend would like to have
and all the sudden going fishin
wasn’t such an imposition
and I went three times that year I lost my dad
well I finally read the good book
and I took a good long hard look
at what I’d do if I could do it all again

and then
I went sky diving
I went Rocky Mountain climbing
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named FuManchu
and I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter
and I gave forgiveness I’d been denying
and he said someday I hope you get the chance
to live like you were dying.

Live Like You Were Dying
By Tim McGraw
Lyrics written by Tim Nichols