If you think that you might have something to worry about, don’t.
Karl A. Pillemer, Ph.D. recently blogged about a surprising finding in The Huffington Post. He created the Legacy Project in order to find out what elderly people knew that younger generations didn’t. He and his team asked 1,200 men and women over the age of 70, “What are the most important lessons you have learned over the course of your life?” Answers consistently addressed time spent on worrying.
Pillemer shares some of the sentiments in his blog:
“I wish I hadn’t spent so much of my life worrying.”
“Don’t believe that worrying will solve or help anything. It won’t. So stop it.”
I recently heard someone say that, “worrying is like praying for what you don’t want.”
Truth be told, this seems universally easier said than done. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that one of Pillemer’s recurrent answers to his Legacy Project question reflects the tremendous amount of time and energy people feel they’ve wasted on worry over the course of their life.
So what can we learn? When we feel our wheels turning (and turning and turning and turning…) and the worry begins, we can use this as a reminder that worry doesn’t actually solve anything. It won’t get you to an unknown answer more quickly and it won’t help you prepare for what is ahead. Don’t waste your time dwelling and when you feel your marble rolling in that direction, stop it! Make an active, conscious choice to reframe your thoughts and focus more on what you do have control over. And if you don’t have much control in the situation at hand, then acknowledge that you are in a difficult place and try to sit with it. But don’t worry! It won’t help you!