David Cain has recently written another excellent piece on his site www.raptitude.com. "How to Worry Less" is inspired by what surely must be his own firsthand experience traveling in Southeast Asia. He first draws the humorous comparison of the newly arrived tourist, terrified of the reckless disregard for the rules of the road, unable to enjoy the scenery, desperate to get to his or her destination, as opposed to the long-time traveler who, unconcerned by the running of red lights or overcrowding of a ferry, sits back and instead enjoys the scenery. David argues that just as tourists can relax and enjoy more of their trip by learning to become a "good passenger" so too can we learn to enjoy more of our life. Almost all of life is spent traveling from one "destination" to the next, whether it's waiting in line at the grocery or slogging through a work day or raising kids. If we always felt uncomfortable or anxious between destinations in life, we would never be happy!
So, how can we learn to become good passengers? Well it's simple although not necessarily easy. It takes a little time and deliberate action to focus on the journey rather than white-knuckling through to the destination. David highlights three key actions:
1 - Settle into your body
2 - Actively watch the world unfold around you
3 - Occasionally notice how nice it is to be able to do both of these things
When we do those things instead of ruminating on and planning for future problems that may not come to pass anyways, we actively shift towards being a good passenger. This process takes a little bit of faith. You have to take a leap of faith; you can't logically convince yourself to be a good passenger, because then you're right back into analyzing and arguing with yourself.
And ironically, the anxious, fearful, planning mind is actually less prepared for disaster than the good passenger. As David eloquently writes, "The unrelaxed mind is the least prepared, because it has no faith in its owner’s ability to act in the present. It believes it can operate without this self-trust, determined instead to somehow escape the inescapable danger of being alive, just by summoning so many catastrophes to mind during ordinary moments that nothing can surprise it." Such worry is all for nought anyways, because even when those supposed catastrophes do happen, they are never as we imagined and planned for. So instead of responding in the organized manner we had prepared for, we panic and flail about because that's what we've been practicing! If you are ready to stop white-knuckling through life, rushing form destination to destination, take a read through "How to Worry Less" and start becoming a "good passenger."