Monday, November 22, 2010

"Don't Worry .............Be Happy!"

Happy Thanksgiving to all! Last year at this time I was in the middle of radiation treatments with chemo. The daily treatments had destroyed all of my taste buds. I couldn't taste the difference between turkey or cranberry sauce? It all tasted like cardboard. My taste is back about 75% now, so I'm looking forward to flavors of Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is a happy time which reminded me of a song that my son, John Michael, would sing and whistle when he was 4 or 5 years old. That was somewhere around 20 years ago but I can hear him singing it like it was yesterday. Some of you may remember the song. It was a Jamaican kind of island tune with the main words being "Don't happy".

Little J.M. would walk around just singing this little tune day and night, and he was, so happy! Thinking about it now, I kind of understand the connection of being happy by not worrying. (Now I can't get that song out of my head! It drives me nuts when this happens, well at least it's not a fast food chain jingle...those are the worst!)

Back to "Worry". When I found out that I have Squamous Carcinoma Cell Cancer of the Head and Neck, and then learned what it is, I was faced with some choices. I could very easily worry about my health, our financial demise, the effect on Lisa, the kids and grand kids, OR, I could choose not to worry, and yes, be happy, which I knew was the desire and for the betterment of all concerned.

Easier said than done. So how did I do this almost magical feat? If you have a few minutes, I'll be glad to share:

The first thing I found was "Worry" is something that we put on ourselves. I see this a lot with the young adults. Work, school, internships, clubs, booze (whoops, that was my college days!) but you get what I'm saying? How do you take on so much and then not worry about getting it done? And then some of you are blessed with children to raise during this building stage of your lives! Wow, been isn't easy.

However, if we bring "worry"on ourselves, can't we just choose what, and when, to deal with things? You bet your day planner we can! I have mastered it. The first thing I do if I catch myself wanting to worry about something is ask myself: "Is there anything I can do about this right now with what I have to work with?" The answer is almost always "No". If the answer is "yes", then I need to get off my butt and do something...immediately! If I can't do anything about it at the time, or I don't have what I need to work with, I choose not to worry about it and make a plan on how to deal with it at a later date. Let's say that I need to ask the Dr.'s something that has really been bothering me and my appointment is on Thursday, however, it's only Sunday, then why should I worry and be in turmoil about it for days! I just sing the little tune: "Don't happy" and wait for Thursday to come around (which seems to be faster and faster all the time).

I know what your thinking: "He didn't bring the cancer on himself! I don't bring my problems on myself! They just come like a giant black cloud, hovering over me, depressing me, exhausting me, and driving me crazy! I think he is full of it!" Wait a minute, I said we bring the worry on ourselves not the problems. The problems come from all directions and sometimes the dreaded two or three at a time: family wellness, financial concerns, getting homework done, stray dogs using your yard as their personal restroom, or whatever evil unpleasantness we find bestowed upon us!

However, please consider what I've said about "choosing not to worry".

If you are worrying about paying the bills, is there anything you can do about it right then? I think it's better to commit to "I'm not going to worry about this right now because there is nothing I can do about it, at this time, with what I have to work with. I'm going to take some time tomorrow (or pick a date and time) to list all the possible ways I can solve this problem and then do something about it, but I AM NOT going to worry and lose sleep over it because: right this minute, there is nothing I can do about it!"

If you find yourself with a problem or concern, do something about it right then, if you can, or schedule a day and time to deal with it, both of these are productive. Please try to avoid "worry" as it is NOT productive and is very detrimental to you happiness. Remember, "Don't Happy" works hand in hand. If you don't worry, you'll be happy, and if your happy, you don't worry.

Christians are really in luck when it comes to eliminating "worry". Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:25-34 all we need to know about "worry". It is an important enough subject for Jesus to take the time to try to help us with His teachings. Sometimes I pray not for the solution to my problem, I just ask God to help me to continue not worrying about it. Then, I feel wonderful!

 The words of a song, being performed by a little boy for his Dad, years ago, sure has helped me. Children can see things through their innocents that we older (and in my case I do mean OLDER) adults lose along the way. My Brother, Mark, told me a story of how a young son of his pointed out to him: "Dad, you have spent your whole life worried about being poor". Amazing, as Mark is very successful and appears to have never missed a meal! (sorry about that Bro, I couldn't help myself). However, he does admit he use to "worry" about it, even though, he worked hard to avoid it!

What did the "worry" get him? It's not a motivation tool. What motivates us is the end result we want to obtain and I think that many times we forget that important fact. We also forget how to enjoy the pursuit of what we are trying to gain. Just because it may be work to obtain it doesn't mean that we have to hate the journey. Find a way to enjoy the efforts your are putting into your project, the old "whistle why your work" idea.

A word of caution, you may want to refrain from being over zealous. Many years ago I was working on a project for General Tire Corp. in Charlotte, NC. We were staying at the Holiday Inn and one morning, in my typical morning happiness (something many people don't have but my Mom says that I have always been happy in the morning) I closed my room door and met up in the hall with Bill Greaves, who was working with me. On the way towards the elevator, which was down the hall and around a corner, I broke out into a loud and happy version of: " Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho, IT"S OFF TO WORK WE GO", which Bill, nursing a little hang-over, didn't appear to be enjoying. Despite his discomfort, I continued the song with the whistling and singing, very loud. As we approached the end of the hall, we made the turn to the elevator, continuing to sing my heart out, when what awaited me at the elevator was a total, and embarrassing surprise. It was two dwarfs in business suits, also starting their day. My "Hi-Ho" trickled off quickly and I could have crawled in a corner but there was no where to hide. So we said "Good morning!" to our vertically challenged fellow road-warriors, and yes, they looked at me like "you have got to be kidding me!" True story. The lesson learned was; even though you may be really happy, not everybody may embrace your methods of expressing your happiness.

 Here are two of my favorite quotes on "Worry":

"Drag your thoughts away from your troubles... by the ears, by the heels, or any other way you can manage it."  ~Mark Twain

"Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere. " ~Glenn Turner

I hope that someone will find this useful. Please write a comment and let me know. Or email me at  It's always great to hear from you. Thanks for reading,

Loving life and fighting cancer,

John L.

Promote cancer awareness and early detection for yourself and those you love. It may save a life.


  1. Dad, you taught me long ago that worrying is a waste of time. I am grateful for so many of the lessons that I have received from you, but this is one of my personal favorites. It literally changed my life. There is such FREEDOM to be had when you teach yourself not to worry! It is darn near impossible to eliminate worry, but all of you blog followers should take this post to heart.....if you can get rid of even half of your time spent worrying, you will be amazed at how much easier life becomes. Dad, you are wise beyond your years!!! Happy Thanksgiving.... I certainly am thankful for YOU.

  2. Learning to be worry free is nearly impossible!! But hearing (or reading) Sifu repeat- "Do the best that you can do right now with what youve got to work with" seems to make it a lil easier every time. Love you Sifu!!

  3. I love this entry dad!! It is definitely something I needed to read. I worry all the time about things but I'll keep your words in mind.
    I love the "hi-ho" story. I laughed until i cried hahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!

  4. John, you also taught me this and I need to remember it, especially now. I'll never forget the times we spent in OK. And one of your favorite sayings was "Well, I'm certainly not going to worry about that right now"!