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Fret not, make the most of yourself when life gets tough

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By Bob Mueller

A friend of mine used to constantly mumble to herself, “Fret not”. We tend to blame our troubles and our worries on the circumstances of life,on what someone else has done to us. The truth of the matter is that most of our inner unhappiness results from our fretting ourselves.

There is nothing sweeter on this earth than a little baby. However sometimes a pin sticks the little baby, or it becomes thirsty or hungry or cold or uncomfortable. Then the baby does not face life in a gallant fashion; instead the baby begins to howl and scream to the top of its voice. What happens when a baby cries? It simply acts like a baby.

“Fret not” says that when a pin sticks, or when we are uncomfortable, or when we are hurting, let’s not act like babies. Babies never do anything to help themselves. Real grown-up people do not spend their energies in whining, in fussing and in worrying. They seek to discover the trouble and do what is necessary to remedy it. Why do we fret ourselves? Why do we worry? Let me give five reasons:

1) When we are tired and worn out physically, it is much easier to feel uncomfortable and unhappy. So in every life there must be some sort of restful change. Once a preacher announced that he was going to take a vacation. One of the members of the church said, “The devil never takes a vacation.” The minister replied, “That is the reason he is the devil.”

Every person needs to discover some form of recreation that leads to re-creation. One can play golf, fish, read, swim, go to the movies, watch television, travel – there are many things to do, but there are times when we need to get our minds off of ourselves and our daily living.

2) We fret because something hurt us. I know a football coach who says to his players at the beginning of the season, “If you expect to play football, you must expect sometime to get hit and to get hurt.” The same thing is true of life. If we expect to live, it is certain that somewhere along the way of life we are going to get hurt. There are three main ways that people get hurt. Sometimes we are hurt because of a severe loss. We feel the pinch of poverty, the loss of health; our ambitions are thwarted, a friendship is broken – there are many ways to lose in life.

Sometimes we are hurt because of what life withholds. Struggle as we may, often the best prizes elude us. Our finest dreams fail to come true. Hope is a wonderful thing, but continued unrealized hope has the power to break our hearts. There are those who feel near to the sunset of life, yet they seem themselves no nearer to the castle of their dreams than when they started. That hurts.

Finally sometimes we are bothered by what happens to other people. We suffer because a loved one suffers. More often we are jealous of the success of others. We become envious.

3) We worry because we refuse to accept life as it is. Some things in life are fixed, cannot be changed or escaped. Instead of accepting them bravely and courageously, we whine and we fret and we rebel. People often complain about the weather. There is not much any of us can do about it. Someone has written these words:

After all, man is nothing but a fool,

When it’s hot, he wants it cool.

When it’s cool, he wants it hot;

He always wants it the way it’s not.

(Anonymous)

We need to remember that there are some things that we cannot change, but we must accept and make the best of them.

Failure and success both exist in life, and sooner or later we expect to get a taste of both of them. A blessed, happy person does his or her best and leaves the rest and does not worry. We all have limitations. Every so often, we hear somebody say, “I can do anything anybody else can do.” That is both a stupid and an untrue statement. No person can do everything that everybody else can do.

4) We become upset when we are too self-centered. Once a soldier said to another soldier, “You are wounded, buddy.” “Well, I’ll declare,” the other soldier answered, “I had not even noticed.” When soldiers are in a fight, putting everything they have into it, they become lifted out of themselves, and they fail to notice their own wounds. When we become less self-centered and become more cause centered, then our worries disappear.

5) Fear strikes us down when we are at war with our own consciences. Life can become divided. We face decisions we dare not make. We hear calls we dare not answer. We see paths of duty we dare not follow. Tremendous power lies in decision. Some fretful people cannot make up their minds. There comes a time when we must say, “This one thing I do.”

The same friend who always says, “Fret not,” also tells a story about Mr. And Mrs. Henry Ford.

Soon after Mrs. Henry Ford died, someone told about the early days when Mr. And Mrs. Henry Ford had no money at all. He had a dream of building a car, and Mrs. Ford believed in her husband through those very difficult times. Mr. Ford called her the believer, and she called him the dreamer. They lived happily together for 60 years. My friend concluded with this line: “At last the believer has gone to rest with the dreamer, two who together are the epitome of the American story.”

Persons who learn to dream and believe will always make the most of themselves. They “fret not.”

Bob Mueller is Senior Director of Mission & Stewardship at Hosparus (www.bobmueller.org). Views expressed in this column are those of the writer.