Worry is no joke! Its stress causes serious problems. Worry’s stress hormones in the brain have been linked to shrinking brain mass; lowering IQ; heart disease; cancer; premature aging; predicting martial problems; family dysfunction; clinical depression; and making seniors more prone to dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Some 500 hundred years ago, Michel de Montaigne said: “My life has been filled with terrible misfortune; most of which never happened.“ In 2015, long before Covid added to this world’s worried stress overload, an article published in the now-closed Huff Post reported on a study that confirms Montaigne’s humorous, but sadly spot-on quip.
In this study, subjects were asked to write down their worries over an extended period of time and then identify how their perceived misfortunes actually materialized. The results were as follows:
- 85 % of what subjects worried about never happened.
- With the 15 % that did happen, 79 % of subjects discovered either they could handle the difficulty better than expected, or the difficulty taught them a lesson worth learning.
- This means that 97 % of worries consists of self-inflicted, mind punishing, fearful exaggerations and misconceptions.
That leaves just 3 % of legitimate worries that most likely will happen just as imagined, regardless of whatever mitigating interventions may be implemented.
Perhaps there’s a tad of subtle credibility in Mad Magazine’s smiling, half-wit icon, Alfred E. Neuman’s motto. . . What, Me Worry? However, Alfred’s humorous motto is unrealistic, wishful thinking.
Truth is, some 2,000 years ago, One who carries the worries of each of us stated worry’s ultimate, one-day-at-a-time, remedy:
“Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” – Matthew 6:31