February 8, 2012

Things Not to Worry About

I'm a worrier.  It's true.  I think most people tend towards either anxiety or depression as they get stressed - a sort of hyperactivity versus an immobility.  I'm certainly the former.  Part of how I cope with being busy, and an outlet for my hyperactivity, is to make lists of all the things I have to do.
But this sometimes serves to stress me out as often as it de-stresses me.  
So as part of my happiness project, I am creating two lists right now:
1. a list of things that I have to think about right now 
(such as what is the cause of my patient's stroke? or what will I eat for lunch today?), and
2. a list of things that I really DON'T have to think about right now 
(such as, what am I doing for my fourth year this upcoming June).  
It's amazing how much worrying and energy I put into things that either aren't really in my control or I just haven't reached a point where I can actually do anything about them.  So instead I have a lot of unproductive worrying about them, when I could be using that energy to better pursue happiness.
I know you are now appreciating that this last paragraph actually was in list form.

The truth is, I absolutely love lists.  
Every time I have tried to ban lists from my life, because sometimes I can convince myself that they contribute, not take away from my craziness - my life only suffers for it.  And so I always come back to them.  It's destiny, really.  I come from a family of list makers and organizers of all sorts.  One of my grandfathers has a chalkboard where he has diligently kept track of the comings and goings in his house for the week ahead for over 60 years.  Another one of my grandfathers has an office full of binders, each divided into topics he finds interesting or people to whom he wants to pass on articles.  Both my mother and father have several different types of notebooks/journals that they use for various purposes.  My sister has given me the best title for a To-Do list ever: The G.S.D. list (stands for Get Stuff Done - or whatever you want the S to stand for).

But this list - this What Not To Worry About List - actually came from my dad and his research into practices of highly successful people (being one himself, he knows quite a bit about it).  Turns out, one of the best lists ever is a Not To Do Right Now List.  I can actually feel my brain relax as I write things down.

Apparently my dad and I aren't the only people thinking like this - on a new blog I stumbled on (interesting, all about lists), there's a list by F. Scott Fitzgerald in a letter to his daughter about what to worry about and what not to worry about.  I'm copying it in full because I love it (even though we may have slightly different lists, F. Scott and I), but you should also check out the blog itself.  So many great lists!
Without further ado, F. Scott Fitzgerald's Things to Worry About:

Things to worry about:

Worry about courage
Worry about cleanliness
Worry about efficiency
Worry about horsemanship

Things not to worry about: 

Don’t worry about popular opinion
Don’t worry about dolls
Don’t worry about the past
Don’t worry about the future
Don’t worry about growing up
Don’t worry about anybody getting ahead of you
Don’t worry about triumph
Don’t worry about failure unless it comes through your own fault
Don’t worry about mosquitoes
Don’t worry about flies
Don’t worry about insects in general
Don’t worry about parents
Don’t worry about boys
Don’t worry about disappointments
Don’t worry about pleasures
Don’t worry about satisfactions

Things to think about: 

What am I really aiming at? 
How good am I really in comparison to my contemporaries in regard to: 

(a) Scholarship
(b) Do I really understand about people and am I able to get along with them? 
(c) Am I trying to make my body a useful instrument or am I neglecting it? 

With dearest love,


What's on your list of things to worry about and things not to worry about?  
Are there some things that can be moved from the former to the latter?

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