Anxiety and happiness can never live together

When I am working with clients, I always try to understand how various psychological problems fit into human evolutionary development. The nature of the mind to create phobic reaction to various situations is quite understandable. After all, if we did not respect height, we would have all fallen out of the trees long ago in our evolutionary past and we would have ceased to exist. To be phobic about height is to take that natural respect and view it through an emotional magnifying glass that turns it into an enormous problem.

The common states of emotional imbalance that I deal with are depression and anxiety. In the simplest terms, both states develop when our consciousness takes us away from the “now”, away from the present. In depression, we live in unresolved past events, and bring them into the present as though we are living them right now. The depressive state ruminates on what was and tends to find reasons and excuses that bind us to the past so that we cannot move on and create the life that we want. In that sense, depressives are victims of circumstance and a slave to the past rather than living in what is and what will be.

In anxiety, we do the opposite. Anxiety is about living in a future that may, and probably will, never happen. The sufferer of anxiety steps out of the now and rehearses all the worst scenarios that their mind can manufacture. In anxiety, we believe that we will be late, we will miss the train, the plane will crash, we will lose the job, our partner will die, we will become bankrupt.

Because the mind is an infinite resource, its ability to create endless disastrous scenarios for us to be anxious about is also infinite.

To be able to think ahead, to consider the possible pitfalls that may await us, and to do things that will minimise their effects, is the normal and natural state of any thinking mind. To live supposed disastrous futures as though they are real in the now, as though they are actually happening, is an imbalance that is irrational and often destructive.

In life, there will always be problems and challenges, and that is the way that it should be. Luckily, evolution has given us the imagination and ingenuity to solve those problems. However, if we live our present moment forever in fear of what will happen next, we will never be happy. Happiness and anxiety can never live together; they are, by nature, direct opposites.

The practice of Mindfulness enables us to live in the present, to enjoy life and to be happy now. In states of anxiety, life is the thing that passes us by while we are waiting in fear for what will happen next.

Happiness comes about when we let go of the negative past and the supposed future and live in the moment.

Be here now and be happy.

Take care,

Sean x

My name is Sean Orford. I am a therapist based in the UK, working for a variety of public and private organisations. I am also a speaker, writer and published author. I hope you enjoy my weekly blog. If you'd like to know more then please do get in touch.

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