Anxiety is an intrinsic part of life of a modern man with so many expectations and pressures that are put on us by ourselves and others. We either accept and live with it, or try to fight it, and by now, most of us have read numerous articles, visited courses, listened to podcasts  in order to help us make sense of anxiety and how to deal with it.

We’d like to share with you the article by James Clear where he takes a well-researched and interesting approach explaining the roots of anxiety, how it evolved, as well as giving straightforward and practical advice on how to deal with it.

In his article, James argues, that the human brain is wired for the so-called “Instant Return Environment”. We’ve all heard of instant gratification, and this is what many of us expect. Just think about the fairly recent movement to speed things up, make the design, production, exit to market and, in some cases, failure, as fast as possible in order to get the return. However, the environment we live in, at least in the past 500 years is a “Delayed Return Environment” in which our actions today will only bring tangible results some time in the future.

Examples of problems in an Instant Return Society:

  • A lion appears across the plain > you feel stressed > you run away > your stress is relieved.
  • A storm rumbles in the distance > you worry about finding shelter > you find shelter > your anxiety is relieved.
  • You haven’t drunk any water today > you feel stressed and dehydrated > you find water > your stress is relieved.

Examples of problems in a Delayed Return Society:

  • Will I have enough money to pay the bills next month?
  • Will I get the promotion at work or remain stuck in my current job?
  • Will I repair my broken relationship?”

The anxiety in this environment comes from the fact that “the problems we encounter can rarely be solved right now.

So, what can we do about this? James suggests two strategies. One is to concentrate on measuring the actions that lead you to achieve the result that you want. For example: “You can’t know for certain how much money you will have in retirement, but you can remove some uncertainty from the situation by measuring how much you save each month. You can’t be sure that you’ll get a job after graduation, but you can track how often you reach out to companies about internships. You can’t predict when you will find love, but you can pay attention to how many times you introduce yourself to someone new.”

The second strategy is shifting your worry, meaning that instead of concentrating on the long-term (and sometimes not even starting, if the task ahead seems too daunting), work on the daily routines that will get you where you want to be.


  • Instead of worrying about living longer, worry about taking a walk each day.
  • Instead of worrying about whether your child will get a college scholarship, worry about how much time they spend studying today.
  • Instead of worrying about losing enough weight for the wedding, worry about cooking a healthy dinner tonight.

Click here to read the full article and share with us the strategies that you apply for dealing with anxiety.


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