You don’t have to religiously watch the news or keep up with social media to know that we’re living in strange times. For the past couple of years, it seems like things will start looking up just before they take a sharp left turn. This week, we’re mourning the loss of those slain in Uvalde, Texas. At the same time, many of us are bracing for the next seemingly inevitable heartbreaking crisis. In times like these, I think we can learn a lot from Willie Nelson.
Right now, you can find decades’ worth of interviews with Willie. In nearly all of them, he seems like the most laid-back guy on the planet. There are plenty who would chalk that up to the fact that Nelson is always the highest man in the room, no matter where he goes. However, the calm afforded by reefer has nothing on the Zen master level of peace of mind that Willie Nelson has found over the years.
At the same time, Willie Nelson kind of feels like everyone’s cool uncle or wise old grandpa. He’s 89 years old and has been in the music business for nearly 70 of those years. Luckily for the rest of us, Willie is more than happy to share the wisdom he has gained over the course of his long life and monumental career.
Back in 2016, Willie Nelson sat down with Southern Living for a brief interview. During that chat, the Outlaw Country legend shared some timeless advice that we all need to hear today.
Willie Nelson Talks About Staying Positive
Southern Living asked Willie Nelson how he stays positive. “I have this kind of philosophy,” Nelson said, “I can’t do anything about what happened yesterday or what’s going to happen tomorrow. But I feel like I’m in full control of what’s going on now.”
That doesn’t mean that he doesn’t plan for the future or hasn’t learned from the past. Nor does it mean that he doesn’t feel passionately about and fight hard for the things he believes in. It just means that Willie Nelson forcibly removed worry from the equation. Worry, Nelson said, is poison.
“I think worry will make you sick. I’ve never seen it accomplish anything. I’ve never seen worrying about anything change it. So, I decided not to do it,” he said. Which, granted, is easier said than done. However, if the constant laid-back demeanor and long life of Willie Nelson are any indication, it is worth the effort.
Willie also had some thoughts about how worry negatively impacts your physical health. “Every negative thought you have releases poison into your system and will kill you or give you cancer or tumors or whatever else you can think of. So if you’re thinking negative about anything, erase that.”
Now, worrying may not cause cancer or tumors, but there is a nugget of truth here. Chronic stress can cause a laundry list of health problems. According to Mayo Clinic, stress triggers the release of cortisol and adrenaline. When you’re in danger, the two compounds work together to prepare your body and mind for the worst. However, chronic stress triggers a continuous release of adrenaline and cortisol which can wreak havoc on your body and mind.
It can cause anxiety, depression, digestive problems, and muscle pain. In some cases, it can cause heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, or heart attack. So, he’s right. You can worry yourself to death.
Moving forward, let’s all be a little more like Willie.