Worry Not

Lots of people worry about stuff. It’s a pretty natural part of the human condition. Yet often we carry worry around like a weight, stressing us out and hurting us, and yet we don’t change a thing about our behavior. It’s just pointless stress.

Often when I hear about someone’s worries, I’ll ask them this question: “Imagine you found out that the thing you were worried might happen was instead guaranteed to happen in 3 months. What would you do differently in those three months?”

And people usually tell me a whole host of things they’d do. Things that they, of course, are not doing right now.

So if they were certain of something, they’d act in preparation. But only being worried it might happen causes a bunch of stress but no behavioral changes.

And here’s the real kicker – usually the changes described by the person in the hypothetical scenario are all upside. In other words, there’s no reason not to do those things just because the potential event might not manifest. Worried you might lose your job, so you save money and look for a better one. Turns out you don’t lose your job? Oh no, you saved money and improved your industry knowledge for nothing!

In fact, not only does the guaranteed negative event cause people to plan better, in most cases it actually causes them to stress less!

Think about that. A negative event that might happen causes a bunch of stress and no action. A negative event that definitely will happen causes only a small amount of stress and a bunch of positive actions taken to mitigate (or even take advantage of!) the event.

This is like a superpower. As soon as you find yourself going around in the worry circle about something, just shift gears. Say it absolutely will happen, plan accordingly, and live your life. Don’t let the spikes that happen steal months from you.

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