No doubt, you’ve been told throughout your life not to worry. And with good reason: We all have a tendency to worry. It starts because the future is uncertain. We cannot know what lies ahead. Often our worry is caused by anxiety over not knowing the outcome of a particular situation. Fear and anxiety frequently drive our worry. And sometimes, that anxiety and worry can become excessive.
So you know, I used to be a worry wart. Big time. That’s not to say I don’t worry now. I do. But I work every day to keep it in check.
Some Thoughts on Worry
Perhaps that is why there are so many quotes about worry. Here’s just a few:
- “When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.” — Winston Churchill
- “That the birds of worry and care fly over your head, this you cannot change, but that they build nests in your hair, this you can prevent.” — Chinese Proverb
- “Worry is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere” — Erma Bombeck
- “There is a great difference between worry and concern. A worried person sees a problem, and a concerned person solves a problem.” — Harold Stephen
- “If you can’t sleep, then get up and do something instead of lying there worrying. It’s the worry that gets you, not the lack of sleep.” — Dale Carnegie
- “What, me worry?” — Alfred E Neuman
And Even Songs
I have a huge database of song lyrics in my head. It usually is just idle chatter up there and it gets in the way of remembering important things. But occasionally it comes in handy by suggesting songs that mention the word “worry.” Such as:
- “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” — Bobby McFerrin
- “Worry, why do I let myself worry?” — Patsy Cline in “I’m Crazy”
- “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing” — Stevie Wonder
- “I’ll never worry, Why should I? It’s all gonna fade” — Paul Simon in “Still Crazy After All These Years”
Would it Help?
My favorite reference to worry is in the movie “Bridge of Spies.” The main character, Rudolf Abel, was a KGB undercover agent in North America for a period of time following World War II. Several times in the movie he was in impossible situations. An example is when he was on trial for crimes against the US and his life was hanging in the balance. Each time, people would ask him if he was worried. And each time, he shrugged off the question saying that worry would not help. It was a theme throughout the movie. Someone would ask if he was worried. And each time his response was, “Will it help?”
Here’s An Exercise
Write down everything you remember worrying about recently. Carry that list with you for the next two weeks and write down each time you notice yourself worrying about something. Then, at then end of the 2 weeks, review your list. How many of those things actually happened? How much time could you have put to more productive use, if you had not been worrying about those things? Will the things you worried about matter in 5 months? Or 5 years? In fact, looking back, how many of them no longer matter?