Life Lessons From a Soviet Spy and His Perspective on Worry

The movie, Bridge of Spies, is based on the true story of the exchange of two spies, Rudolf Abel from the Soviet Union, and Francis Gary Powers of the U.S., who was captured when the U2 spy plane he was piloting was shot down over the Soviet Union.

The Soviet spy, Rudolf Abel, stood trial in the U.S., and the movie depicts several scenes, where despite extremely stressful circumstances, he remains perfectly calm.  At one point, Abel’s lawyer, James Donovan (played by Tom Hanks), is taken aback by Abel’s calm demeanor and composure under pressure and he asks, “Do you never worry?”  In the most matter of fact manner Abel answers, “Would it help?”

Would it help?  It’s such a fantastic question, and one we forget to ask when life gets difficult.  Would it help to worry when the stock market is crashing and the anxiety of Wall Street is palpable?  Would it help to worry while you await the test results from your doctor?  Would it help to worry that those dear to you may die before you?  Of course we know the answer.

If we could eliminate the moments we spend worrying about things over which we have absolutely no control, we would spare ourselves hours, and days and possibly years of unnecessary anxiety.  We will all face challenges and difficult moments in life, and worry seems to be the natural response.  But worry will never change the outcome, nor help in any way.  It will only add to the burden already being carried.

Next time you feel your anxiety rise and the worry begins to creep in, ask yourself one simple question… “Would it help?”

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