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Mishlei 12-25 (Anxiety)

NOTE: For a PDF copy of this segment, please click here. This will enable you to print out the entire text of the article. [Rev 0]
Key Concepts of Mishlei 12-25 (Anxiety)
Although people tend to lead a structured existence, no one can be certain of the future. Thus, we all live with uncertainty and this can affect our mood. The problem is that moods induced by thoughts of the future have a direct effect on our ability to function in the present. These moods can range from a serene trust in Hashem to deep anxiety about what the future may hold in regard to health, family, and livelihood.
When a person’s heart is filled with worry about the future he finds it difficult to focus his thoughts on the task at hand. Thus, he finds it impossible to give the needed attention to his ongoing relationship with his Creator.
For this reason Mishlei teaches every person to subdue any worry to which he may be subject. He recommends the most direct means to overcoming worrisome thoughts, which is to replace them with positive, happy thoughts. Torah wisdom can be the ideal source of such thoughts.
Exploring Mishlei
(כה) דְּאָגָה בְלֶב־אִישׁ יַשְׁחֶנָּה וְדָבָר טוֹב יְשַׂמְּחֶנָּה:
(25) Worry in a man's heart? Let him subdue it. Let a good word convert it to joy.
This proverb contrasts the instinctive mood of anxiety and worry with the mood of joy and serenity that is called upon to replace it.
Learning Mishlei
(כה) דְּאָגָה בְלֶב אִישׁ יַשְׁחֶנָּה 
וְדָבָר טוֹב יְשַׂמְּחֶנָּה:
When there is worry in a man's heart  דְּאָגָה בְלֶב־אִישׁ , let him subdue it  יַשְׁחֶנָּה  by turning his attention to positive thoughts. Let a good word of Torah convert it to joy  וְדָבָר טוֹב יְשַׂמְּחֶנָּה .
Additional Insights
A series of insights illuminating this proverb are presented below. The numbers identifying the insights refer to the listing of sources at the end of the segment.
(1) All the possible moods a person may have are already present deep within his psyche. He has the power to elevate any mood and let it dominate his heart. He also can subdue whatever mood happens to be dominant at any time. One of these moods is anxiety or worry about the future. He can subdue it by taking his mind off what is worrying him. He can also replace the negative thoughts by by thinking of positive thoughts, that is, good things happening.
(2) One can subdue anxiety about the future by considering whatever happens as being all for the best because it is Hashem’s will.
(3) By delving into Torah wisdom a person can replace worry with joy, as it says, “Enlightened eyes will gladden the heart” (Mishlei 15:30).
(4) A person should keep in mind that we only live in this world for a short time. Since this is a transient existence he should not be overly delighted with his successes or overly anxious about what may go wrong in his daily life.
(5) A thinking person should seek to overcome his worries because worrying serves no purpose other than to weaken him. Looking at the big picture, worrying about something that is only temporary is foolish. Furthermore, a person should aspire to have complete trust in Hashem. If he does, he will have no cause for worry about the future for everything that happens is in His hands.
(6) A person who sees his friend suffering from anxiety should help him drive his worries away by talking to him about ideas that will cheer him up. The most positive topic that he can employ is the wisdom of the Torah.
Sources
The primary sources used for the additional insights illuminating this segment are listed below.
(1) - מלבי"ם
(2) - מצודות
(3) - רבינו יונה
(4) - מאירי
(5) - רלב"ג
(6) - הגר"א