What’s The Worst That Could Happen?

I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.  ~Mark Twain

Worry often rules our daily lives. We worry about getting to work on time. We worry about the finances. We worry about if we’ll keep our job in a down economy. We worry about our relationships. We worry about everything.

I am a recovering chronic worrier. If I wasn’t thinking about something to worry about, I felt lost. I needed to keep my mind occupied with something and that “something” was playing out scenarios in my head that would likely never happen.

Eventually, the stress built up from all my worrying and it affected my health. I got to the point that I realized I had to make a change. I had to let go. It was then that I happened to find a great book that helped me along that path. It’s called “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living” by Dale Carnegie. It was one of those books that lays everything out so simply that you want to smack yourself in the forehead and say “Why didnt I think of this myself?”

Dale’s basic techniques show you how to adopt healthy mental habits to break the cycle of worry. The technique that has helped me the most is, when faced with a decision, to imagine the worst case scenario. Then, reconcile yourself to accepting it if you have to.  Then, devote your time to improving on the worst possible scenario that you’ve already accepted. The simple truth is that the odds are on your side, as the worst case scenario rarely ever happens.

Another simple technique I love is to live in what Dale calls “day-tight” compartments. Just shut the door to the past and the door to tomorrow and focus on today. Or, as my mother likes to say, “Don’t borrow trouble from tomorrow.” This is one technique I’ve been trying to use a lot lately, keeping myself in the “now”. Dealing with problems that only affect today cuts down your problems immensely. There goes 95% of my “worry workload”. Enjoying the goodness of “now” is instant gratification. It really is pretty satisfying. I call it “happy building” because it builds happiness with the smallest of building blocks, but with the strongest of foundations.

Dale also writes about doing the best you can, always trying to see the funny side of life, keeping busy, spreading kindness by doing good deeds for people, and never forgetting to count your blessings. Blessings are more fun to count than troubles anyway.

That, in a nutshell, are the great techniques to fight worry. They are simple, but not easy. You must continually work at keeping worry at bay until it becomes a habit for you, but if you can, you’ll be freer and happier for it.

As the Aussies say, “No worries!”

Worry is interest paid on trouble before it comes due. – William Ralph Inge

Leave a Comment