Worrying about the trivial - and occasionally the important - is one of the more popular activities in North America today. Worry is so rampant that many people spend several hours a day in this dubious activity. A substantial number of Americans - 15 percent, in fact - spend at least 50 percent of each day worrying about their lives, says a study from Pennsylvania State University. On this note, you should give serious consideration to the number of hours that you spend worrying each day. One hour a day means that you are spending 365 hours a year having worrisome thoughts. Yet spending only one hour a week in this activity is probably too much. You may have already realized that most worry is self-inflicted and a great deal of it is useless.
At best, worrying is an activity that robs you of precious time. Excessive worry can have much more serious consequences, however. Some researchers claim approximately one out of three people in North America ends up with serious mental problems as a result of worry. Worry predisposes people to stress, headaches, panic attacks, ulcers, and other related ailments.
Sadly, we all spend way too much time worrying about matters that don't matter at all. For instance, you have likely noticed that if you take off those "Do Not Remove" tags from pillows and mattresses, nothing bad - in fact, nothing at all - happens to you.
Studies show that 40 percent of our worries are about events that will never happen, 30 percent of our worries are about events that already happened or have progressed too far for us to change, and 22 percent of our worries are about trivial events, 4 percent of our worries are about real events we cannot change, and only 4 percent of our worries are about real events on which we can act.
This means that 96 percent of our worrying is wasted because it is directed at things we can't control. In fact, since we can control the remaining 4 percent of events we worry about, this worrying is also wasted effort. The bottom line is that 100 percent of our efforts put into worrying is to no avail. This is why Mitzi Chandler concluded, "Worry is as useless as a handle on a snowball."
One way to deal with worry is to challenge the thoughts that are the basis of your worry. What are the chances that the feared event will even happen? What are the worst- and the best-case scenarios if the event happens? What are the chances of the worst-case scenarios and the best-case scenarios happening? Have you ever successfully handled similar events with no serious effects on your life?
Another effective way to handle worry is to get immersed in positive events that distract you from your worrisome thoughts. Getting immersed in something positive is an incredible force in shifting the mind away from the worries of the day. Fill your life with hope, dreams, and creative pursuits instead of worry.
Needless to say, if all worry is wasted, it can't have any significant positive effects on our lives. Coming up with creative ideas for earning money or attaining real success is difficult when you are worrying most of the time. Moreover, even if you do manage to generate a creative idea or two, ideas produced in such a state will prove to be useless. Undoubtedly, if you worry a lot, you will be too afraid to take risks in implementing ideas, regardless of how remarkable they may be.
In short, most people think that worrying serves some worthwhile purpose when, in fact, the opposite is true. The final score on worry is that all of it is wasted. At the extreme, worrying makes problems worse in the long term. Clearly, fear and worry won't help you solve problems and achieve your goals in a relaxed manner. Instead, these emotions will drain you of energy and keep you from attaining the desirable things in life that you are capable of attaining.
Excessive worry not only hinders creativity; it stifles our goals, hopes, desires, dreams, and prosperity. Worrying about problems is like looking at your nasty neighbors through high-power binoculars. The problems don't disappear; they end up appearing a lot larger - and much nastier - than they really are.