Posted by: brandextenders | December 7, 2015

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Do you lie awake at night staring up at the ceiling worrying about your work, your kids, paying the bills,

Alfred E. Neuman, the fictitious mascot of Mad Magazine

Alfred E. Neuman, the fictitious mascot of Mad Magazine

relationships, family squabbles or any of a hundred other things? If there’s one thing that tends to tie most humans together it’s the fact we all spend a fair amount of time worrying. The word itself derives from Old English and Old German words meaning to strangle or “seize by the throat and tear.” The question is, what does worry accomplish? Studies have shown the effects of excessive worry can be devastating to our health including shortness of breath, fatigue, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, irritability, short-term memory loss and digestive disorders.

The thing about worry is most of it is pointless. Earl Nightingale was a well-known radio personality, writer and motivational speaker and spoke often of this estimate of what most people worry about:

  • Things that never happen: 40%. That is, 40% of the things you worry about will never occur
  • Things over and past that can’t be changed by all the worry in the world: 30%
  • Needless worries about our health: 12%
  • Petty, miscellaneous worries: 10%
  • Real, legitimate worries: 8%. Only 8% of your worries are worth concerning yourself about. 92% are pure fog with no substance at all.

Understanding that the majority of our worries are pointless though won’t immediately help us stop worrying. There are some things we can do to help ease the stress and manage our worries:

  1. A 2011 study at Penn State University found setting aside 30 minutes each day to worry while also looking for solutions is highly beneficial. There are four steps to the process they recommend and the first is to identify what it is worrying you. Secondly, set up a time and place to think about this problem. Third, if you catch yourself worrying at other times of the day, focus your mind elsewhere and lastly, use your worry time productively to develop solutions to your worries.
  2. Learn to distinguish between solvable and unsolvable worries. Ask yourself if the worry you have is real or imagined (remember 40% of worries never occur) and if imagined, how likely is it to become real? Is there something you can do to prepare for it or is it something you have no control over? Worrying about things like, “Will I get cancer?” or “Am I going to Heaven or Hell?” are no-win worries. You can’t solve them and learning to accept uncertainty in your life is a good start since we can’t control everything that happens to us. Life is unpredictable and bad things sometimes happen that all the worrying the world won’t stop.
  3. If you aren’t already, start a regular exercise routine to reduce anxiety and stress which in turn helps reduce worry. Regular meditation is another way to lessen anxiety with studies showing anxiety levels can decrease by as much as 39% after a meditation session.
  4. Write your worries down and then let them go. Psychologists have noted that writing down our worries and anxieties can help us to see them as they really are; things we can’t always control. And as you write them down your brain will be looking for ways to solve those that are real while poo-pooing those that are a figment of our imagination.

Chronic worrying can cause physical symptoms including headaches, the inability to concentrate, sweating, accelerated heartbeat, dizziness, nausea and rapid breathing. And these can lead to even more unpleasant outcomes including premature heart disease, suppression of the immune system, short-term memory loss, digestive disorders and heart attacks. In other words, we truly can worry ourselves to death.

Bobby McFerrin in his song, “Don’t Worry, be Happy” notes in every life we have some trouble, but when we worry we make it double.

Finally, a couple of quotes to sum up worry and how little good it does us to spend much time doing it:

“Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday.” Author Unknown

“If you want to test your memory, try to recall what you were worrying about one year ago today.”    E. Joseph Cossman

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Responses

  1. Excellent Steve!

    My favorite verse in regards to worry- Philippians 4:6

    With regards,

    Alan

    L. Alan Dean
    Promotional Marketing & Branding Consultant
    O: 801-317-4433 C: 214-215-9160 E: alan.dean@halo.com
    4420 Parkview Drive | Ogden, UT 84403 |www.halo.com/alan-dean

    asi 356000 | ppai 106462

    [cid:image001.jpg@01CDB052.05FE2140]


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