“Don’t worry!”

bbffe018-6699-410c-89ec-833e2df96c92My wife is committed to breastfeeding our infant. I heartily support her in this. She feels very strongly that breast is best, and that every ounce of breast milk our little one receives provides countless benefits. She was very disturbed by a recent decrease in her milk supply, caused by a minor illness that left her unusually dehydrated. Despite efforts to compensate for this effect by drinking more water than usual, our store of frozen breast milk began to diminish much more rapidly than expected, and she started to worry. This is where I stepped in with my well-intentioned, yet poorly worded imperative, “Don’t worry!”

In hindsight, opening my mouth to deliver those exact words didn’t initiate my wisest of moments, but I felt it was important to address my wife’s concerns in short order. It was fortunate that my sage-like advice didn’t end there. I went on to remind her that our child had already received a solid 7 months of maternal breast milk and that, even if we had to supplement with formula from now on, the kiddo would still have received plenty of mommy’s liquid gold as often as physically possible. I was relieved to see a degree of acceptance in my wife’s facial expressions. Not only was she swayed by this logic, but my blunder was (hopefully) forgotten.

Why was it so important that my wife be comforted during this period of stress? Was it because stress causes a further decrease in a mother’s milk supply? No, that’s a simplistic analysis. Can you imagine a zebra’s milk supply drying up every time her herd experienced a cheetah attack? If such things happened, mammals would have been extinct millennia ago. Was it because stress would further impact her health, and prolong this illness? No, this bug would run its course, and die off, and things would return to normal. What was the real reason?

As human beings, we must find a way to concentrate on our primary goals – to secure a house that we can truly call home, to raise a happy, healthy, and emotionally stable child. To do this, we need to have our wits about us. We need to focus on the things we can control: the actions we can take that produce as many positive outcomes as possible, regardless of the mayhem that may manifest itself around us. We can’t do this effectively when we’re focused on the number of ounces of milk we have remaining in the refrigerator or the potential resale value of our property.

Worry is: dwelling on risk, letting fear cloud our judgement, concentrating on the things that result in failure, and being overwhelmed by stressful situations.

Living is: accepting risk, making choices that affect our future, realizing that today is the most important day of our lives, and making the choice of what to do with the time given to us.

As Elbert Hubbard said, “Don’t take life too seriously. You’ll never get out of it alive.”

One could argue that an attitude of, “don’t worry, and everything in your life will be better” is nonsense. One would be right! It’s not easy, but it is possible to live a more effective life free of worry. Dale Carnegie wrote an entire book on the subject, replete with suggestions on how to handle every situation and every type of worry. Imagine not worrying about insomnia, welcoming criticism with open arms and eyes, turning failure of epic proportion into emotional and financial gain, and most importantly, maintaining a positive outlook and attitude even in the most horrible of situations.

The truth is, we cannot control everything that happens to us. We can control how we respond to each experience. We can make things worse, or we can handle them with grace and poise. Make a commitment today to Stop Worrying and Start Living!

Posted by Randy Showalter

Randy Showalter is a proud father, an electrical engineer, a musician, a health IT data integration architect, an aspiring audiophile, a business expert, a Trekkie and, to top it all off, a Dale Carnegie graduate! Born in Canada, he's lived in Germany, and currently resides near Dallas, TX where he works for IBM Watson Health. Randy loves gadgets, high-end audio, data & database design, web programming, coffee, music (especially renaissance, baroque, indie rock & electronic) and PEOPLE (especially his wife, newborn daughter, and the excellent family and friends with whom he is blessed.) Randy graduated from the Dale Carnegie Course in 2012.

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