Always Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop? Here’s How to Quit Worrying

Instead of worrying that you don’t have what it takes and that your winning streak is about to expire, practice the combination of trusting yourself and acting conscientiously.

Remind yourself that a happy life is a balanced life

Emotional resilience hinges on many ingredients. Succeeding in one area, like your career or romantic life, won’t lead to total fulfillment. That can be hard to remember, especially after a big promotion or when a new relationship heats up. But it’s important to consider that you’re capable of deriving meaning from more than one aspect of your existence.

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“Our mind often overestimates the importance of some factors (money) and underestimates others (taking time off, being social),” Laurie Santos, a Yale psychology professor who teaches the popular course “The Science of Well-Being,” wrote in an email.

To broaden your perspective, sketch out a pie chart that includes the parts of your life that matter to you most, like friendships, health, work, relationships and hobbies. Then invest a bit of time and energy thinking about your aspirations in each domain. The more you engage in what matters to you, the more empowered you’ll feel.

A landmark Harvard study that followed more than 250 college sophomores for 75 years found that warm relationships were the biggest predictor of financial success. Incidentally, studies have also shown that volunteering is linked to health improvements in older adults, and exercise enhances academic achievement and reduces workplace burnout. So, if these activities matter to you, carve out time for them.

Focus on your values, not your goals

It’s easy to fall into the trap of measuring your worth by the various achievements you have reached. Instead, ask yourself:

  • What virtues do I want to embody?

  • How do I want to show up right now?

  • What do I want my life to stand for?

Living your values — above and beyond reaching specific goals — is a way to meaningfully take charge of the things that are under your control while also helping you achieve your ambitions. In one study, students at the University of Nevada, Reno, were asked to either set goals or consider both their values and their goals. The students who both reflected on their personal values, like learning, while also setting specific goals, such as making honor roll, significantly improved their G.P.A.s.


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