“Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear, and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dreams. Water them with optimism and solutions, and you will cultivate success.”Lao Tzu
Is a glass of water heavy? That depends on how long you hold it.
Hold a glass of water for a minute—you’ll notice. Hold it for an hour—you’ll feel like the water has turned to lead. Hold it for a day—you’ll feel like your arm has turned to lead.
Sometimes, what’s relevant is not how heavy something is but how long you support that weight. Our muscles are not designed to hold even small weights; instead, we move from one thing to another—to adapt to varying situations, not to stay stiff on one endless task.
Like our muscles, our minds don’t do well if we weigh them down with constant worry. Like that glass of water, worry starts small but drags down fast. The longer you hold on to your worries, the stronger hold they get on you.
When you first pick up a glass of water, you have a purpose, a goal to work toward. But if you keep holding it, it becomes a pointless exercise.
Worry works the same way. When you think about your problems, your goal is to find a solution. But if you keep holding onto those problems, even when it’s clear that you’re getting no closer to a solution, you’re engaging in a pointless exercise.
Holding a glass of water is an excellent illustration in another way too. At first, it focused only a bit of your attention on keeping it steady. When a few minutes pass, it’s at the front of your mind.
After an hour, you can’t think of anything else.
So too, as worries and anxieties become heavier and heavier over time, they absorb all your attention and claim all your energy.
Putting the glass of water down as the arm stiffens becomes more difficult. It’s hard to let go when you’re numb from holding on.
Worry stiffens all your thought processes, entrenches itself in your lifestyle, and becomes impossible to put down. Thinking about letting go of worry itself causes anxiety.
But when you put the glass of water down, there’s no need to wonder if you’ll be strong enough to regain it. Of course, you will.
So put your worries down. When the time comes to pick them up again, you’ll be strong enough.
Over a year, you lift a ton of water—maybe more. As long as you do it, it’ll be easy.
That same year, you’ll tackle many problems, find hundreds of solutions, and tackle them one at a time.
Next time you pick up a glass of water, remember to put your worries down.