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Dipesh Majumdar

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Why worry?

October 21, 2011

Worrying never helps. It is a paralyzing habit that corrodes one’s progress in life, happiness and peace and leaves one in a morose state. Fear of something which is not known to me or out of my control will only prevent me from enjoying my life, performing my work and being productive. The reason of worry, anxiety and fear is inaction and laziness. Consider this adage from Mike Nichols – "Nerves provide me with energy.  They work for me.  It's when I don't have them, when I feel at ease, that I get worried."
 
When the mind is lazy and doesn’t want to work it creates useless and redundant thought patterns that keeps it busy. The mind can’t remain busy in void; it needs food to chew upon and when it has nothing to eat, it ruminates on its self-invented imaginary and cooked up stories that never existed or never will. The fear that something can go wrong stems from this void.
 
Laziness is darkness. Laziness is ignorance. Hard work is light. There is an eternal war between these two opposite poles. The more one works hard, the less lazy he becomes. However one cannot go on and on. He has to take rest at some point or the other. The moment he takes rest, laziness dominates in his body and mind, trying to cripple him from further work. The pleasure that comes from not doing anything is too hard to ignore. If one succumbs to it, he can’t get up and work.
 
However every form of pleasure follows the law of diminishing marginal utility. Mr. H. Gossen, a German economist, was first to explain this law in 1854. Alfred Marshal later on rephrased the law in his own words - "The additional benefit which a person derives from an increase of his stock of a thing diminishes with every increase in the stock that already has."  This law, in a layman’s language, says that “Pleasure if prolonged, will start diminishing.”

So ultimately the urge to get up and work dominates the urge to sit and do nothing. How quickly can one rise up and swing back to work? The answer to this question might discourage the one who thinks that there is a short-cut or a magic that can enable him do this. Mental and Physical agility, taking decisions quickly, pressing the panic button at will to psych oneself up internally etc are important qualities that help one to remain active most of the time, guarding off intrusions of cobwebs luring for futile gratification.

Whatever may be the level of understanding, clarity of concepts and wisdom, it cannot be denied that this process of getting up and engaging in work is not easy. And same is the process when one is involved in his work. He will tend to keep working and he has to struggle to get into the mode of inaction. Thus we find that human behavior, to a large extent, conforms to Newton’s first law of motion. The tendency of a human being to keep himself in that same state, in which he is in right at that moment, is also seen in matter (unconscious entity).  In case of matter it is called inertia. Thus conscious human beings, ignorant animals as well as inert matter tend to keep on doing the same thing that they have been doing, unless and until disturbed by an external force. Only for the species, Homo sapiens, there is an exception to this. A man has the ability to generate this external force from within. Man can fight against his basic nature and evolve into a higher state. The famous poem "Invictus" by William Ernest Henley sums it up all –

Out of the night that covers me,
 Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
 I thank whatever gods may be
 For my unconquerable soul.
 
In the fell clutch of circumstance
 I have not winced nor cried aloud.
 Under the bludgeonings of chance
 My head is bloody, but unbowed.
 
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
 Looms but the Horror of the shade,
 And yet the menace of the years
 Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
 
It matters not how strait the gate,
 How charged with punishments the scroll.
 I am the master of my fate:
 I am the captain of my soul
 
Taking a cue from the same Newton’s first law of motion and comparing it with the second law, we can say that the tendency of resisting change by an object is directly proportional to its mass (F=m Xa). Extrapolating the same line of thought might suggest that the mentally and physically agile finds it easy to get back to work when consumed by lethargy. While the glutton, pot-bellied and languid folks struggle their way out to break free the barrier of indolence. They dawdle, procrastinate, rationalize and invite unnecessary troubles by being fertile to the unwanted parasites in the form of worry, tension, fear and uneasiness. These parasites thrive in their mind, multiply swiftly and eat away the benevolent host slowly but steadily. So why worry? Recognize the masquerades of your sloppy mind and engage yourself in some constructive work. Draw inspiration from the Vivekananda quote, “Arise, awake and stop not till the goal is reached.”

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