It is so easy to be fearful. The signs and thoughts of impending disaster are all around us, every day, on our screens and even in our own lives. Even as we do the simplest tasks, we worry. “What if I screw up?” is the general theme. There is also fear of loss, being alone, being broke, being sick . . . the list is endless, if you want to live there. But you can overcome fear and be a brave, positive person for your entire life, basically living happily ever after. How?
By simply doing your best, every minute.
After all, isn’t that the best you can do? And doesn’t that mean that, when all is said and done, you will look back knowing that you did the best you could? Yep.
What does that mean, though, in our day-to-day, real life? How do we put this into practice?
First, we need to be present.
I’ve written about this before. You can’t do your best while you are not fully involved in whatever it is you’re doing.
Good luck with that; I know how easy it is to get distracted and to go zooming down some digital rabbit hole at any given moment, given that so many of us work with three screens in front of us and at least one of them contains an app that is like a doorbell being pushed every few seconds by a doorbell-ringing bot.
So doing your best means you are paying attention to what you’re doing. That is step one. Full attention.
But that doesn’t mean that you don’t have “situational awareness.” One lesson I had to learn as a sailor was to keep raising my head every few seconds and looking around. It’s just as easy to get too focused on what you’re doing while ignoring the bigger picture.
Animals do this constantly. In fact, if you have ever watched a flock of geese eat, there are a bunch eating, but there is always one goose not eating, and doing nothing but looking around while everyone else eats. The smaller birds, eating individually, look up every second or so.
This is true of anything you do. Driving, working, walking, texting, shopping. If you just focus on one thing, like we do when we watch a movie, you aren’t also looking around to see what’s happening “out there.” Those sad videos where people are walking right into the front of moving cars as they stare at their mobile phones is a great example. Or chefs on Chopped who are so busy cutting an onion at their workstation that they don’t notice they’re burning their whole ration of a basket ingredient behind them on the stove.
So it’s a really good idea to teach yourself how to focus on one thing, while at the same time, you keep some part of your brain aware of what’s going on around you. Looking around every few seconds or minutes solves this problem.
Second, you need to be honest with yourself about what “your best” is.
This is a very interesting phenomenon, in my mind.
Every single one of us is born with a conscience; that quiet, calm, loving voice that says, “Make sure you do X,” or, “This would be a good time to apologize.”
At the same time, every single one of us is more than capable of ignoring that good advice. “Oh, what the hell,” we think. “No big deal.”
But it is a big deal. It means that something you’re doing will be done haphazardly or even dangerously. It means that you will miss out on the best moment to do it right. It will mean that what you’re doing in this moment will have a negative effect on the next moment, and that moment won’t turn out so well. Pretty soon you’ve got a domino effect that will lead to not-so-happy consequences.
This is how you build a “not” living happily ever after life.
Yes, I know. It’s true. There are dangers all around us. I mean, all you have to do is look at the sun up in the sky with nothing protecting your eyes and, if you do it long enough, you can blind yourself. And we all live in houses where, if we stuck something metal into a light socket, we could die.
And that’s just what’s in our immediate environment. There are also wars, and disasters, and and and and and. Life has always been dangerous. Sometimes it seems less so, because we’re not out hunting game for food, and we have comfortable houses and emergency rooms and endless forms of entertainment and escapism.
But those things are not the center of a happily ever after life. Instead, it is elsewhere, in how we take care of others, what we do for adventure, and, most of all, in that quiet, calm, loving voice.
If you make a habit of paying attention to that voice, you will know what the right thing is at any given moment, and you will decide to do the right thing. It won’t be a big, fat, dramatic decision; instead, it will just be the next step you take.
And, if you start doing this all day, every day, you will avoid doing all the things that could hurt you and those you love.
This positive decision is driven by bravery rather than fear.
It is always better to be brave than fearful. Always. No matter what the situation or the consequences.
Fearing means that you look at the situation and freeze or flee, which makes you a victim, right out of the gate.
Being brave means you look at the situation and figure out how you’re going to deal with it. You go beyond the fear; you are doing something which is likely to turn out OK; you are being constructive and creative and contributory. All of this is good.
Good begets good, one happy moment leads to the next, and pretty soon your whole life is happy.