This morning I was out walking on my morning walk. It was an exceptionally nice morning; the weather was cool and clear. The sun is starting to rise a little bit later each day, so the time when I walk is near perfect conditions. Still early in the morning, so it’s very quiet.
I saw a guy (at least I think it was a guy) off in the distance. Part of my walk takes me through a large area where there are many rice fields next to each other. Each are privately owned by the surrounding neighbors, and I think they’ve been in the respective families for quite some time.
As I saw this guy way off in the distance, I couldn’t help but to wonder about him and what he was doing. I think it is really interesting when things like happen.
You’ll be moving along, on whatever path you are traveling on, and something in the distance will pop up. And because it is fairly evident that your paths will eventually cross, you naturally become curious about this, whatever it might be.
Sometimes this isn’t too pleasant. When you see something up ahead, that you will eventually come across, it can cause fear or anxiety. A police car at a traffic stop, a person that doesn’t look very safe, or maybe a hungry tiger waiting to eat you.
You can also look into the future and see things coming up that won’t likely be very pleasant. And the closer you get to them, the more anxious you can become.
I was at a seminar several years ago, and the fellow giving the lecture was explaining that fear and anxiety are largely imaginary. Of course if there really was a tiger waiting for you, that would be different. But more often than not, according to this guy, whatever is causing you anxiety is usually not nearly as bad in real life as it is in your mind.
The trick is to look at approaching events and situations the same way you’d look at some old guy in a rice field you were eventually going to pass by. Based on all my experiences in passing old guys in the street, there is a high probability of safety. Consequently, when you approach something with a high probability of safety, it’s easy to be relaxed and just let things come as they may.
And paradoxically enough, those things that do go bad, and really do create uncomfortable situations, more often than not it is your anxiety that you brought to the situation that did the damage, rather than the situation itself.
The trick is to approach everything with the same, laid back and relaxed attitude of approaching an old man in a rice field. That way you’ll be much more open and likely to see resources that you can leverage to you’re advantage.
Of course, this is much easier said than done. One trick is to simply stop thinking about what might happen in the future and only pay attention to now. A good way to do this is to simply follow your breathing, and pay as close attention as you can to the physical sensations in your body.
Of course, with more practice, this gets easier and easier, and pretty soon you’ll be as cool as cucumber in a bowl of hot sauce in every situation.