I hope you’re holding up okay in the new world order. Instead of talking to you about social distancing (I’m guessing you’ve heard about that already), today I’ll just give you a personal observation: Since I’ve started trying to worry only about things I can influence or change, I’ve been a lot less anxious.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t worrisome circumstances out there. It just means that, aside from what you’ve already heard about, there isn’t a lot you can do to change them.

It’s easy to understand this from an intellectual sense. What’s much harder is internalizing and living by it.

Meanwhile, unnecessary worrying has a cost, without providing any benefit. Worrying about something you can’t control doesn’t make that thing any better.

Once you accept this principle, it means you can spend your worrying time on something else. And for some of us, that opens up a lot of time.


Personal observation: Since I started trying to worry only about things I can influence or change, I’ve been a lot less anxious.

Last week I mentioned the opportunity in the uncertainty. Where is it for you? If you can’t do the things you normally do right now, then you need to do something else. What might that be?

Even if the situation is harrowing, your responsibility is to find the way forward within the limited scope of what’s available to you.

Here’s how someone put it in a comment on my Facebook page (thanks, Andrew!):

“There’s a 1,000 piece puzzle. On one side is a map of the world, on the other is a picture of you. Trying to solve the puzzle for the world is almost impossible. Solving the puzzle for you is simpler, and achievable. By solving the puzzle for you, the world’s solution also comes through.”

So that’s the answer, or at least part of it: focus on the part of the puzzle with your name on it. And if you aren’t sure what that thing is, start with what’s in front of you right now: one idea to outline, one small project to tackle, one person to call and check up on.

In light of postponing my spring tour, I’m making some big changes too. I promise to share them with you as I go … it’s a whole new world, but at least we’re in it together.

Chris Guillebeau is the New York Times bestselling author of The Happiness of Pursuit, The $100 Startup, and other books. During a lifetime of self-employment, he visited every country in the world (193 in total) before his 35th birthday. Every summer in Portland, Oregon he hosts the World Domination Summit, a gathering of creative, remarkable people. His new book, Born for This, will help you find the work you were meant to do. Connect with Chris on Twitter, on his blog, or at your choice of worldwide airline lounge.

Image courtesy of Adi Constantin.