Worry seems to be the new human past time. Ask a person how they are doing and you just might regret showing that you care by the time they have bombarded you with a stream of negative thoughts.
Did you know that the average person’s anxiety is focused on 40% of things that will never happen, 30% of things about the past that can’t be changed, 12% on criticism by others that was mostly untrue, 10% about health, which gets worse with stress, and only 8% about real problems that will be faced?
“Worry is fear’s extravagance. It extracts interest on trouble before it comes due. It constantly drains the energy God gives us to face daily problems and to fulfill our many responsibilities. It is therefore a sinful waste.” One wise woman remarked, ‘I’ve had a lot of trouble — most of which never happened!’
J. Arthur Rank, an English executive, decided to do all his worrying on one day each week. He chose Wednesdays. When anything happened that gave him anxiety and annoyed his ulcer, he would write it down and put it in his worry box and forget about it until the next Wednesday. The interesting thing was that on the following Wednesday when he opened his worry box, he found that most of the things that had disturbed him during the past six days were already settled. It would have been useless to have worried about them.
Walter Kelly reminds us that, “Worry is faith in the negative, trust in the unpleasant, assurance of disaster, and belief in defeat. Worry is wasting today’s time to clutter up tomorrow’s opportunities with yesterday’s troubles.”
Did you know that a dense fog that covers a seven-city-block area one hundred feet deep is composed of less than one glass of water divided into sixty thousand million drops. Not much is there but it can cripple an entire city. Imagine that! That is exactly what worry does to us. It cripples us. Rather than live in and maximize the present, it robs us of peace and joy and even health.
Worrying heightens our stress levels. “Stress doesn’t only make us feel awful emotionally,” says Jay Winner MD, author of Take the Stress Out of Your Life and director of the Stress Management Program for Sansum Clinic in Santa Barbara, Calif. “It can also exacerbate just about any health condition you can think of.”
Studies show that many health problems are related to stress. Stress seems to worsen or increase the risk of conditions like high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, depression, gastrointestinal problems, and asthma. I am yet to read a study that lists any benefits to worrying.
As a mother, I think when you bring your child into the world the doctors secretly implant a worry chip in you. I have known women who can’t sleep because they have to check on their child every hour to ensure he or she is still breathing. As our children grow, we worry about them getting hurt, not being liked, not being smart enough, etc., etc.
When they drive away in a car alone for the first time, we imagine every possible horrible scenario and worry ourselves into ulcers and migraines. In this economy, people are worrying about jobs, debt, bills, their health, marriages, and the future.
To worry may make us feel like we are at least doing something, but what does worrying really accomplish? One person put it this way, “Worrying is like rocking in a chair. There is a lot of activity, but you’re not going anywhere.”
Mahatma Gandhi cautioned against worrying when he noted, “There is nothing that wastes the body like worry, and one who has any faith in God should be ashamed to worry about anything whatsoever.”
Jesus, the son of God himself, admonished, “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”
Never one to leave us without hope, he shares the secret to overcoming the tendency to worry and to have peace. “But seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
See my next blog for practical tips on how to eliminate worry on a day to day basis.
Aya Fubara Eneli is the CEO of Aya Eneli International, a best-selling author and a sought after speaker. She, her husband and their five children reside in Central Texas. Follow her on Twitter @ayaeneli, like her at facebook.com/ayaeneli or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sign up for her Goal Setting webinar today at www.ayaeneli.com.