Me? Worry? Never!

“Worry is like a rocking chair – it gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere.”

This week the Today Show asked the question, “How to survive a sinking car?”  At every commercial break Matt Lauer or Meredith Viera would tell us to stay tuned – our lives depended on it.  If we didn’t watch the next segment, we would surely die in a watery grave.  Then for five minutes Jenna Wolfe did her best to scare the beegeebees out of us.  In what I thought was very poor taste, they played the 911 call of one of the people killed in such an accident.  But NBC didn’t induce enough fear yet, so they submerged Jenna in a car 3 or 4 times to show just how terrifying it would be in such a situation.  “That is so frightening,” said Meredith at the end of the segment.  “Yes, very very scary,” confirmed Jenna.

Are you terrified now?  Is your heart racing faster?  Are you already online Googling “automobile submersion survival”?  Are you checking to make sure your wills are up to date?

Relax.

According to MSN the sister company of NBC, “Data shows that less than one-half of 1 percent of all auto crashes involve submersion.”  One-half of 1 percent.  Bless those poor souls who do succumb to this fate every year, but what are the TV producers thinking when they purposefully try to scare the American audience?

And why do we watch it?  Why are we so obsessed with fear?  Why are we attracted like fireflies to stories that make us worry?  And did you know that worry not only wastes your time, but affects your body too?


When your mind THINKS about a situation, your body actually EXPERIENCES it.  Next time you watch a horror or action film, notice your body.  As the tension mounts, does your body move forward, do your muscles tense, does your heart beat faster?  Your body doesn’t know the movie is make-believe.  The same thing happens when you worry.  Your body experiences the future worry as an event that is happening right now.  Do you think we could live healthier, better lives without this imaginary stress?

I for one do.  Below are three ways I make a conscious effort not to experience additional worry and stress.

Ask If the Worry is Real

When I start feeling my body reacting to an imagined worry, I ask, “Is this happening to me right now?”  99.9% of the time I can say no.  So I shake off the fear.  Imagined worry can be brought on by television segments like the one mentioned above or it can be brought on by real news stories or actual life circumstances.  Your 401K value may be dropping, but is it affecting your quality of life RIGHT NOW, right in this VERY moment?  For the majority of us, the answer is no.

Do Some Research

Many times stories are presented for their shock value.  Before I run off thinking I have the Portuguese Bunny Flu, I research further details to validate or more likely dispel the seriousness and relevance of the story to me.  What are the chances I will really be affected?  I also check the validity of email chain letters on www.Snopes.com and think about how the email can positively help others before sending it on.

Don’t Let It In

I love National Public Radio.  But hearing daily reports regarding Iraq, the economy, and Joe the Plumber were making my body tense and anxious.  So I have decided to limit my news intake.  What is happening around the world is very sad.  I do give to charities and support causes where I can, but I don’t see myself fixing Wall Street anytime soon.  So why should I hear about something 24 hours a day that I can’t affect? 

Start the New Year on the right foot.  Watch out for any unnecessary worry that you are bringing on to yourself.  Ask yourself if the worry is truly affecting you RIGHT NOW, do a little research so you know the whole story, and limit your intake of things that are not bringing you joy.


Wishing you a happy and worry-free New Year!

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