When we worry, our brains are in a constant swirl of “what if?” questions. Personally, as the John Lubbock quote (subject line) attests, I find worry extremely exhausting! My mind races, I lose sleep, and I get distracted from what’s truly important.
Is worry worth it? According to “The Complete Sales Action System®” worry chart, maybe not:
- 40% of all things we worry about never happen
- 30% have already happened and we can’t do anything about them
- 12% needless worries about health
- 10% petty miscellaneous issues
- 8% real worries
- 1/2 we can do little about
- 1/2 we can
So, before your brain engages in a constant swirl of worry, think about:
Will this matter a year from now? This thought compliments of Dr. Richard Carlson’s book Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff . . . and it’s all small stuff. Things that may not matter in a year: missing a meeting or your wife’s birthday (wait, that may matter a year from now); making a non-life-threatening mistake; or having an argument with a colleague, friend, or family member. You get the idea.
Does this worry belong to someone else? How many times have we taken on worry that doesn’t belong to us? Personally, I’ve worried about RSVPs to a party I’m not hosting; worried about a comment someone else made to a mutual friend; and worried about whether or not my husband has left for the airport on time (he’s perfectly capable of managing his time). I couldn’t control any of these situations and they really weren’t mine to manage or worry about . . . but I did.
What’s the very worst that can happen? Sometimes there is a legitimate reason to worry, but it helps to put some thought into “what’s next” if the worst happens. For example: Taxes are due within the next couple of weeks. What’s the very worst that can happen if you don’t file on time? Penalties, fines, or triggering an audit. Not great options. What can you do about it? File an extension. The worry was not misplaced, but once the extension is filed, you can rest a bit easier . . . for a while.
Is the problem solvable? Can whatever we are worrying about be fixed, prevented, or resolved? If so, the worry may be warranted. If not, the worry energy may well be misplaced.
Maybe we can take some advice from the Dalai Lama:
“If there is a solution to a problem, there is no need to worry.
And if there is no solution, there is no need to worry.”