Why Worry?

Over the years, a few people have told me that I worry more than anybody they know.

So — I’ve done a little reading about worry.  I’d say I’m fairly well versed on worrying and why it’s a bad idea.

I know, intellectually, when I’m doing it and why I should not be doing it.

I know that 99% of the bad things I imagine happening — things I worry about — never happen.

For example, my car hit a puddle last night and began to sputter.  It eventually gave out completely, and I worried all night that it would never work again.

Yet, this morning, it started and drove just fine.

Conversely, the bad things that do happen, I never had the foresight to worry about.  These things are generally good learning experiences.

For example, I just accidentally knocked a stack of papers off the edge of my desk, making a colossal mess on the floor.  I never even thought to worry about that.  And now I’ve learned that, yeah, I need to get rid of that clutter.

Many years ago, when I played a lot of tennis, I was a huge fan of Tim Gallwey‘s book, The Inner Game of Tennis.  He advised one not to worry about winning or losing.  ‘Losing is not that bad,’ he advised.  ‘And winning is not that great.’  He also pointed out that only one person wins a tournament, and everybody else is eliminated, such that losing is the norm and winning is unnatural.  He said one should reframe the whole concept and measure winning as improving, without regard to the score or the outcome of the match.

So why worry?

It’s a waste of time and energy. It hinders performance.

I may be one of those people who is hard-wired as a worrier.  But I’m pretty sure learning about it and working on it helps.

Sometime back, I wanted to watch an Oprah interview with Eckhart Tolle.  A sign-up was required.  Since then, I get the emails daily and almost never open them.

Today, I as I sit here printing Coffee News, sending files to the duplicator and reloading paper, I opened Oprah’s email and read an article about worry by Dr. Wayne Dyer.

This article contains a quote I really love:

“It makes no sense to worry about the things you have no control over, because if you have no control over them, it makes no sense to worry about them. And also, it makes no sense to worry about the things you do have control over, because if you have control over them, it makes no sense to worry about them. And there goes everything that it is possible to worry about. Either you have control or you don’t, and worry is just a waste of your precious, present moments.”

Only once in my life do I recall being accused of not worrying enough.

I won’t disclose the participants, but it happened at dinner one night, many years ago.  It was a time before I had gray hair, and two people my age had quite a bit.  Obnoxiously, I pointed this out, and one of my dinner companions said, “That’s because we give a shit.”

Bobby McFerrin