From worthless anxiety to worthwhile anxiety
As life’s uncertainties make us anxious, we often long to be anxiety-free. Curiously however, when we are relatively free from anxiety, as when we are on a comfortable vacation, what do we do? We frequently watch something exciting such as a suspense movie or a sports match. Isn’t excitement an emotional state similar to anxiety?
This means that what we want to avoid is not anxiety itself, but pointless anxiety. When anxiety serves a purpose, we are ready to accept it. We can choose worthwhile anxiety by taking up a meaningful responsibility. That means we resolve to make the best that we can with our life as it is presently and start choosing wisely within whatever options we have. These choices can be small simple steps that we consciously take every day or even every hour. Thus, we strive to do something worthwhile to make one small corner of the world better or make one person’s life better, even if it be for a few moments, we start experiencing a sublime sense of fulfillment. And such fulfillment makes anxiety bearable.
Among all the responsibilities we may take up, the most fulfilling is the responsibility to become a channel for God’s benevolence to act through us. In fact, this is the responsibility that Arjuna takes up on hearing the Gita, as is evident by his raising his bow in readiness to fight for establishing dharma (18.78).
Those who, wanting to avoid anxiety, try to dodge all responsibility often end up getting into unhealthy indulgences that cause them unnecessary anxiety. As long as we are in this uncertain world, we can’t be entirely free from anxiety. But we can free ourselves from worthless anxieties rising from pointless or destructive indulgences by choosing to accept meaningful responsibility.
We can’t be entirely anxiety-free, but we can make anxiety worthwhile by taking up meaningful responsibility.
Think it over:
- We don’t want merely to be anxiety-free. Explain.
- How can responsibility make anxiety worthwhile?
- How can you replace worthless anxiety with worthwhile anxiety?
18.78: Wherever there is Krishna, the master of all mystics, and wherever there is Arjuna, the supreme archer, there will also certainly be opulence, victory, extraordinary power, and morality. That is my opinion.
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