Lessons from a Navy Seal: Why you should attempt to stop worrying



Worry (n): to feel or show fear and concern because you think that something bad has happened or could happen.

Verily, we are all worry-addicts.

Sometimes last year I came across the statistics that 90% of what we worry about never happens. While I can’t justify such data, I can definitely relate to it. However, if such data is anything to go by, then we have successfully inundated our lives with  a time-wasting and health impairing activity.

While  it is insurmountable to jettison worry, a substantial reduction could be a life changer.

Among several other lessons, I was reminded of worry today as I read through the book, No Heroes  by Mark Owen. Mark Owen was one of the Navy SEALS who participated in the Osama Bin Laden raid.

He relayed a scary rock climbing drill in book, where,  he ran out of camming devices, 300 foot off the ground level, up on a rock. (That is equivalent to a 100metres dash length, incase you are not comfortable with foots). He loss his front sight focus, became terribly nervous,  and anything that could plausibly define worry.

One of the instructors came around and gave him a quick coaching. “Just stay in your 3-foot world” he said, “focus on what you can affect. You keep looking around, and none of that shit can help you right now, can it?”

The idea of focusing on what you can affect seems like a cliché but it is extremely powerful if we understand the meaning of the words.

In Dale Carnegie’s How to stop worrying and start living (one of my favorite books), he posited a tactic for handling worries – mentally accept the worst, and peacefully do your best to improve the worst case scenario.

This, not surprising, is an ancient trick that is well articulated in Seneca’s premeditatio malorum.

 And the philosophy is pretty clear, by defining and accepting the worse, only then do we have the mental clarity to preempt the worse.

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