A few years ago, a friend appeared agitated. He was anticipating a meeting at work, and had it all planned out in his head. In a nutshell, it went something like this: his co-workers were going to be so intent on stopping his project that he was going to have to yell at them.

I reminded him of the “This Means War!” scene in Duck Soup, one of his favorite Marx Brother’s films. Rufus Firefly works himself into such an indignant fit that by the time the Ambassador arrives to make peace, he slaps him.

Most things that cause us anxiety are, quite literally, a projected future that is all in our heads. This COULD happen, that COULD happen, he COULD say that, I COULD feel that…and the firestorm begins.

If you’re prone to this kind of thinking, here are three things you can do right now:

1) Take a deep breath and say “stop” out loud.

2) Close your eyes for a moment and focus on your feet on the floor.

3) Take inventory of what is ACTUALLY happening, now. Right now. What is true, and what isn’t?

4) Re-assess, and repeat as often as is necessary.

Most importantly, next time you work yourself into a fit remember this scene from Duck Soup and laugh. My friend did, and just sent me an email saying that his meeting went very well. It works!