Worrying is a funny thing—it can be helpful to spark motivation, and it can be a hindrance when it reaches a chronic stage. Below is an account of anxiety, with a light touch of the humor we all need in the world.
Existential worries can plague many of us.
While sometimes we worry about dilemmas as benign as forgotten keys in our pocket, on occasions our worries are grounded in some of the more pressing survival concerns of life and death: Will a drone strike on American soil? Will there be a nuclear holocaust? Will a careless, few centimeters maneuver on the highway send my car and its contents to the scrap metal dump, ahead of schedule? Will a tsunami permanently displace my beach lounging?
Will I have the opportunity to fulfill some or most of my life and spiritual goals, as well as my dreams? When will this tumultuous adventure we have the privilege to undergo called life, with potential for the fantastic and surreal, abruptly end? Why will I be unaware of this untimely conclusion until my final breath?
Will my worrying cause me to have a crummy day? Will a series of crummy days (on account of incessant worrying) amount to a crummy totality of experience?
But before you fall into the negative feedback loop of chronic worrying, let’s look at worrying from an objective standpoint:
From “Worrier” To “Warrior”
Yes, we do battle—with ourselves, that is. We don’t don impenetrable armor to deflect stress, but worriers certainly have plenty of thoughtful reserves. Worrying scares people into both accomplishments and detriments, big and small. Please consider the rise and decline of every civilization since humankind graduated from Neanderthal status.
Worrying Can Be Futile
Perhaps Neanderthals were more grounded than modern humans because worrying, in excess, is absolutely irrational and is usually counterproductive. While worrying can be an instigator of positive change, it is gut-wrenching and accomplishes zero end in itself, except nervousness in the present about the past or future. Whatever happened about focusing on now instead of “what if” or “what was?” Let us create present solutions rather than unnecessarily dwell on the bad.
Taking Action On Your Worries (Or Not)
Even if an irrational worry is based on a potentially negative outcome, why do we not simply sever ties with the stress associated with the dire need to act and simply do whatever is necessary to right matters? We can limit the worry to merely the initial premonition and then proceed accordingly and forthrightly, without straining as much.
Excessive worrying hastens our demise by causing wrinkles, cancer by unleashing free radicals, and other wear and tear caused by stress. So, isn’t it more rational to become streamlined, fearless warriors determined to do what needs to be done and claim what is rightfully ours—without internally smacking ourselves upside the head?
We are all warriors grappling with life’s thwarts, whether those hindrances are self-inflicted while we simultaneously hope to tear them down or we take out the problem in a more streamlined fashion.
Where does worrying get us?
The answer to this question is two-fold: Sometimes we accomplish great feats of endurance by lighting ourselves on nervous fire, like an “angst channeler.” But we resume worrying, as fervently as if the initial obstacle was not even surmounted. Different obstacle, same worry. Repeat the torture ad nauseum!
Worry can be motivation for some of our greatest accomplishments.
Life is not pure worry! For example, we may survive the draining and constantly cringing “gruelfest” of law school. Or, we may put ourselves through a 20-year, cooperative and cut-throat tennis competition, wherein brute strength, coordination, agility, and creative aesthetics within the scope of one's mind and the court force death (yet, only for the duration of the lone tennis match’s remembrance).