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The Antidote to Anxiety
Modern angst is a function of external forces, but we can take back control with a new perspective.
Hope you’re enjoying MDW! May your weekend be filled with burgers, dogs, beers, and maybe a few minutes of journaling and introspection ;)
Today we’re thinking about anxiety and strategies to mitigate it. Let me know what you think.
As always, thanks for reading!
The Antidote to Anxiety
Nothing diminishes anxiety faster than action.
There is one force that explains most of what we do: self-preservation. We’re still motivated by the same instincts that we were a few hundred or a few thousand years ago, so we’re constantly searching for threats to our survival that we can eliminate.
When we had enough food and water, we began to worry about shelter. When we had shelter from the elements, we began to worry about predators. So on and so forth.
Today this pattern continues with the same principles but different milestones. First, we’re concerned with finding a secure job, healthcare, and a place to live. Then we begin to worry about advancing in that job, building relationships in our community, and pressing forward in each area of our lives.
The difference between today and a few thousand years ago lies in the consequences of inaction.
For most of our existence, we were anxious about improving our condition because if we didn’t, we would die within a few days. Today's consequences are merely discomfort or inconvenience, but the same underlying anxiety still exists.
If anything, we experience more anxiety today because we have more to worry about. Ever-improving innovations continue to make life easier, healthier, and safer, so more of our time and energy is spent speculating about the future instead of acting on existing issues.
Combined with unprecedented connectivity and ease of comparison, a normal day has become dominated by anxiety and comparison that’s unrelated to our lives and outside of our control. The only thing more damaging than worrying incessantly is doing so about things we can’t control.
Our modern angst is a function of external forces, but we can take back control by limiting our intake and taking action.
Information delivery has shifted from a pull model to a push model. Instead of pulling relevant information from trusted sources, our primary consumption model is irrelevant information pushed upon us by unknown sources. The more we can eliminate information pushed upon us and curate trusted sources to pull information from instead, the easier it is for us to focus on what’s worthwhile and impactful.
Even if we focus our energy on the right areas, we can still be overrun with anxiety if all we do is sit around and think. To move ourselves forward, we literally need to move ourselves forward. We need to take action. We need to do something. We need to move closer to a solution. And when we reach a resolution, we’ll run into the next problem, and we’ll start all over again.
If our focus persists and we take consistent action, we’ll manage to become a bit better each day and cultivate a feeling of purpose that eliminates anxiety altogether.
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What are you most anxious about? Is it within your control?
Does your information come from push or pull sources?
What are things that are important to you and within your control? What actions can you take on a consistent basis to move those forward?
A video clip discussing how behavior influences our thoughts, feelings, and perceptions.
Thanks for reading! I’ll see you next Sunday.