I’m no naïve optimist, but I’ve observed in my life that a good 80% of what we worry about never actually happens. Most of the stress, anxiety and time spent worrying about what might happen is utterly wasted. Even worse, all the negative emotion is bad for us.
I saw a case of this recently. A friend and colleague called me in a panic. He was deeply concerned about a family matter, to the point that he was highly agitated and unable to sleep at night. We talked for quite a while. I pointed out that what he feared had not yet occurred, and probably wouldn’t.
He called back a week later, relieved and apologetic for what turned out to be a false alarm. I didn’t say “I told you so,” but I did remind him about how he tortured himself with worry. We laughed about it, but it got me thinking.
It makes perfect sense to anticipate possible problems and prepare to deal with them should they arise—with planning, support systems, and preventive and protective measures. And then get on with the business at hand. Sure, bad things can happen. But if 80% of what we worry about never happens and another 10% is completely unexpected (and uncontrollable), we should all go about our daily lives with a “100% worry-free philosophy.”
Remember, worrying is not problem-solving. It’s just worrying.