Lessons on Relieving Anxiety

Don't Worry: 48 Lessons on Relieving Anxiety from a Zen Buddhist Monk by Shunmyo Masuno (2022, translated by Allison Markin Powell) is a short book with flashes of wisdom – but it suffers from too much negativity, too much mundanity, too much silliness in its stories, too much narrow advice about corporate office-work (getting promoted or fired, delegating or volunteering, getting credit or getting ignored, ...), and too much argumentation about arguing. Maybe a symptom of the problem is excessive use of the word "Don't", starting with the title and persisting thereafter? 🍂

Nonetheless, there is great goodness within Don't Worry, as hinted by the Table of Contents:

PART ONE: Reduce, let go, leave behind. – The Zen way of keeping anxiety and worry at bay

1. Don't delude yourself. (Zen teaches us not to compare ourselves.)
2. Focus on "now." (This is about cherishing ourselves.)
3. Don't burden yourself or drag yourself down. (Create a spot in your living space where your spirit can settle.)
4. Pare down your belongings. (It will lighten both your mind and your body.)
5. Just be, as you are. (Don't focus on things you have no control over.)
6. Take off your colored glasses. (This will eliminate ninety percent of your worries about personal relationships.)
7. Be gracious. (Be quick to defer, regardless of your status or position.)
8. Recognize limitations. (We can work only within our own abilities.)

PART TWO: Concentrate only on things you can achieve here and now. – By doing so, you'll stop thinking about unnecessary things.

9. Reconsider the obvious. (You'll realize the happiness to be found in the present moment.)
10. Don't rush, don't panic. (Once a day, make sure to stand still.)
11. Respond positively. (It's okay to feel down, but get yourself up again soon.)
12. Cherish the morning. (The best way to create mental space)
13. Live by your own standards. (Don't be swayed by other people's values.)
14. Don't seek out the unnecessary. (Stop bingeing on information.)
15. Shine wherever you find yourself. (If not now, when?)
16. Don't go against your feelings. (This is how to be unfettered by things.)
17. Make your evenings calm. (Late at night is not the time to make big decisions.)

PART THREE: Step away from competition and things will fall into place. – "Everyone is their own person, and I am who I am."

18. Don't fixate on victory or defeat. (It doesn't matter whether you win or lose.)
19. Keep at it, slow and steady. (Do this before you envy others' talents.)
20. Experience gratitude. (What you can accomplish all by yourself doesn't amount to much.)
21. Use the right words. (Words possess awesome power.)
22. Let young people take charge. (Your turn will surely come around.)
23. Accept your circumstances, whatever they may be. (Regardless of whether they are favorable or adverse)
24. Do today's things today. (The secret to feeling unconstrained in life)
25. Don't simply run away. (Failure doesn't mean your life is over.)
26. Be more tolerant. (You be you, and let others be themselves.)
27. Go with the flow. (Solitude is fine, but isolation is not.)
28. Don't talk just for the sake of talking. (Opt instead for a "cordial silence.")
29. Adjust your breathing. (The Zen way of breathing that alleviates frustration and worry)
30. Change the "air" in your home. (Do this first thing, as soon as you wake up in the morning.)

PART FOUR: Surprising tips for improving relationships – How to form good connections and let go of bad ones

31. Cherish your connections. (It's no accident that you happened to meet these people.)
32. Make good connections. (How to create an upward spiral of good people in your life)
33. Yield to others. (One of the best relationship secrets is "After you.")
34. Don't wield "logic." (It's important for everyone to save face.)
35. Spend ten minutes a day in nature. (Find the moment when your spirit will suddenly be liberated.)
36. Make people want to see you again. (The Zen way of cultivating charisma)
37. Admit errors right away. (Not only in words, but make the effort to convey this emotionally as well.)
38. Don't hesitate to ask for help. (Someone will be there to lend a hand.)
39. Be a good listener. (Relationships are about give-and-take.)
40. Don't base decisions on profits and losses. (Relationships that aren't based on personal gain will shine of their own accord.)

PART FIVE: Change how you worry about things and your life will change for the better. – On money, aging, death, and more

41. Money (The desire for more only makes everything harder.)
42. Getting Older (The more you're able to forgive, the happier you'll be.)
43. Old Age (Zen teachings for maintaining your appearance, your posture, your breathing . . .)
44. Love (Even in matters of love, moderation is just right.)
45. Marriage (Words of appreciation make a good relationship.)
46. Children (Helicopter parenting plants seeds of worry.)
47. Death (We should entrust our dying to the Buddha.)
48. One's End (What words will you be remembered by?)

... many suggestions to think about – best quotes to follow!

(cf Don't Panic (2010-11-17), It's Not So Bad (2012-03-13), Without Anxiety about Imperfection (2015-05-21), Moments of Mindfulness] (2016-09-15), Present in Every Moment (2019-11-25), Worry, Stress, Anxiety (2020-03-04), For Positive Thinking (2022-02-07), ...) - ^z - 2022-11-11