Years ago, I heard one of the first pieces of wisdom that I knew was going to make itself into my own personal ethos. It was shared by a personal hero of mine, Kevin Smith. Kev, you’re a modern day philosopher and the world is better for having you in it.
Through my research I came to find out the quote is from the film “The Spanish Prisoner.” No surprise that a filmmaker was quoting a film.
The more I’ve patched this into my life, the more I’ve realized it’s one of my favorite Stoic thoughts. The amount of emotional capital we spend on the future without knowing if it will ever come is immeasurable. As cliche as it sounds, the simple truth is we don’t know what may be around the corner. I could walk out the door and be shot, break my ankle, get hit by a car, or simply continue to live my life. A typical argument to this is “you must think of the future, you have to make plans and worry about what will happen. Otherwise you’ll just never go anywhere.” I can agree with about 96% of that statement. This is a great example of the dichotomy in life. You should absolutely plan and prepare for the future, don’t live a stagnant life, prepare for any possible outcomes, and know that plans my change, then you adapt. Worrying about the unknown/future is a completely different animal.
No amount of worrying will have an impact on the outcome of a situation. The worst aspect of worrying is when the outcome of the concerning event turns out well. The tangible amount of time spent fretting over an issue that turns out to not be real is a literal waste. Time that could have spent in a better mental space. The Stoics figured this out somewhere between 5 BC and 135 AD. Sadly, I didn’t figure it out until 2018 AD and now I share it with you. Don’t waste any more time worrying.
Stop concerning yourself with things you cannot control, for you will have no power over them. Next time you see someone worrying about something ask yourself, and them, what it is they want. Once you’re able to recognize they’re longing for something out of their control, the reality of having no power over the outcome will settle in. With the acceptance of that reality, worry ceases to have control over you.
Stop worrying, it won’t help.