When was the last time you worried about something that didn’t happen?
85% of What We Worry About Never Happens
Mark Twain said: My life has been filled with calamities, some of which actually happened. There seems to be nothing more fictitious than the worry that goes on in our heads. Now there’s a study that proves it. Researchers at the University of Cincinnati found that eight-five percent (yes – 85%) of what we worry about never happens. Moreover, the study found that 79% of us handle the 15% that does happen in ways that surprise us with our ability to turn the situation around.
Worry is no joke. It causes serious problems. The stress reactions worry excites flood the brain with stress hormones. This makes us prone to disease and emotional problems. Stress hormones also debilitate higher brain function, dampening memory, the capacity to learn and the ability to sustain peak performance. Seniors who worry are twice as likely to develop dementia. Worry is also the threshold to clinical depression.
My friend Martha was once asked to help out an elderly woman she didn’t know by driving her to a doctor’s appointment. The woman was described to Martha as very elderly, nearly ninety years old. When Martha met the woman, she was surprised to find that she was not as elderly as she expected. At most, she looked to be in her mid- seventies.
“Do you mind me asking how old you are?” Martha asked on the drive to the doctor.
“Ninety-three,” the woman answered.
Martha was astonished. “You look so much younger,” she said. “What’s your secret?
“Well, honey,” she answered, “Twenty-three years ago I made the decision to stop worrying and I haven’t wasted a moment on worry since.”
Martha said her mind was sharp and she was joy to spend time with. Her decision made her younger at every level. Think of all the energy she gained through her decision not to worry. Think of all the anxiety she spared herself, all the needless stress she avoided. It showed on her face and in her attitude.
Here’s the benefit: When we’re worried or under stress, all we see are problems. But once we’ve quieted the brain, control will shift from the lower to the higher brain where creative intelligence kicks in. We start to see solutions.