How to Unclutter Your Mind and Eliminate Worry

Rich Habits

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Worry leads to stress. Constant worry leads to chronic stress. Chronic stress transforms cholesterol into cortisol, impairing the immune system and inviting disease and illness.

Much of what we worry about, we have little to no control over. Once you accept the fact that you can only control what you can control, it’s as if a great weight were lifted off your shoulders. It’s an ah ha moment, that sets you free, fostering a more relaxed attitude and a clearer mind, which reduces the debilitating health effects of chronic stress.

So how do you do it? How do you stop worrying?

I want you to make two lists:

  1. Things You Can Control
  2. Things Outside Your Control

Let me give you an example by sharing my lists.

Things You Can Control

  • Morning Time – I wake at 5am, which gives me about theee hours of morning time to engage in my Rich Habits: Self-Education, Reading, Writing, Daily Exercise.
  • What I Read – I only read material that is uplifting or educational. I peruse the news and only read positive stories, ignoring all negative stories.
  • Who I Associate With – I minimize my exposure to toxic people and seek to spend more time with positive, upbeat people.
  • What I Eat – I engage in intermittent fasting, which means I eat nothing from 7pm – 12pm. When I eat, I eat mostly healthy foods.
  • What I Drink – I drink mostly flavored water and moderate my consumption of alcohol.
  • What I Think – I express gratitude every morning for three things that happened the day before. I cancel negative thoughts, such as “what if” negative scenarios and replace them with “what if” positive scenarios. We all have “what if” scenarios running through our brains. As much as 70% of those thoughts are negative. We can control that.
  • How I Respond to Others – We have a triune brain, or three distinct brains: Neocortex, Limbic System and Brain Stem. When we control how we respond to others, we are using our neocortex. When we allow our reflexive emotions to control how respond to others, we are using our Limbic System and Brain Stem. You have control over your brain, which means you have control over how you respond to others. I choose to use my neocortex. This means I avoid emotional responses, which could damage my relationships.
  • Business – I have three businesses: CPA Firm, Financial Planning Firm and the Author Business. To some extent, my activities can improve all three businesses. I engage in only those activities that improve my businesses. For example, writing and pitching the media on my writing is something I can control which boosts book sales. Every day, I engage in only those activities that boost book sales.
  • Health – I used to worry about getting sick, or getting some disease. I no longer do. What I can control is trying to be as healthy as I possibly can. To that end, I exercise every day, eat healthy and moderate my consumption of junk food and alcohol.

Things Outside My Control

  • Business – To some extent, I have little control over certain aspects of my business: Client Tax Audits, New Clients, Lost Clients, Stock Market Volatility, How my Books Sell Overseas, Media Exposure in my Author Business. For example, since I began my Author Business in 2009, Media Exposure has been a source of constant worry for me. In most cases, Media Exposure is outside my control. It’s not something I have any control over, so I chose to stop worrying about it. I continue to pitch my articles to the media every day and have set my expectations to zero. I no longer worry about Media Exposure because I expect zero Media Exposure. If I do get Media Exposure, I’m surprised and temporarily happy because reality exceeded my expectations.
  • How People React to Me – I no longer worry about how others react to me. I do not let their reactions to me, affect my responses to them. If they do not like my response, it’s their problem, not mine.
  • Heath – To some extent, I recognize my health is outside my control. Now, when I get sick, I accept the fact I’m sick and do what I can to heal myself.
  • Macro Events – I spend little to no time worrying about politicians, the economy, or national and world events. Those things are completely outside my control.
  • Life – Sometimes life hands you a crap sandwich. A car accident, a lost client, publisher decisions, a bad month in books sales or financial planning revenues, commuter traffic, the weather, etc. I choose to no longer worry about life events for which I have no control over.

When you peel the onion of what you can and can’t control, it is a liberating experience. It clears your mind of everyday worries, reducing stress and improving your health.

When your mind is clear of worry, you are better able to pursue your dreams and your goals, overcome obstacles, find solutions to problems and think creatively. A clear mind keeps you moving forward in life. A mind cluttered with worry, keeps you stuck.

Tom Corley is an accountant, financial planner and author of “Rich Kids: How to Raise Our Children to Be Happy and Successful in Life”, Effort-Less Wealth, Change Your Habits Change Your Life, Rich Habits Poor Habits and “Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals.”