How To Stop Worrying
by Ram L. Chugh
In his survey of 1200 elders for his Legacy Project, Cornell researcher, Karl Pillermer, was surprised to find that most elderly regretted “worrying” the most. I wish I hadn’t spent so much of my life worrying.
“What do older people regret when they look back over their lives? I asked hundreds of the oldest Americans that question. I had expected big-ticket items: an affair, a shady business deal, addictions — that kind of thing. I was therefore unprepared for the answer they often gave:
Over and over, I heard versions of “I would have spent less time worrying” and “I regret that I worried so much about everything.” Indeed, from the vantage point of late life, many people felt that if given a single “do-over” in life, they would like to have all the time back they spent fretting anxiously about the future.” (1)
Our UA emerita colleague, Hedi McKinley, LCSW and a clinical social worker, shares 10 ways to worry less. She is 97 years old and these pearls of wisdom to worry less come her experiences of living a long life.
1. Remember that today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday. And nothing happened. See?!
2. Ask yourself “What is the worst that can happen?” Most of the time it is something you can live with. You may not like it, but you’ll survive.
3. It’s hard to worry while you try to solve other problems or while you’re in action. So, move!
4. Life is too short to be little. Don’t brood over tiny hurts, small grievances. Ask yourself whether “it” will be meaningful three years from now. If not, forget it; if yes, don’t agonize, act.
5. Don’t worry about giant ants, earthquakes, and bridges collapsing. Think of the odds and have some faith.
6. Don’t expect happiness. Who said life was fair? Remember that happiness is not a station to arrive at, but a mode of travel. A moment here or there is all you can ask for.
7. Don’t expect gratitude. Do what you do because you think it’s right.
8. The universe is immense. Believe that there is an order in the vastness and that you are part of it. Leave it at that.
9. Not everybody is going to love you or even like you. You don’t like everybody yourself. Do the best you can and then sit back. There are other shows in the sea.
10. Accept the inevitable: you are going to die. So will everybody else. Don’t pretend otherwise. Face it every day by saying “If I die, I die.”
And remember, worrying does not bake cakes, win wars or raise kids. Instead, worry makes you tired, dull to be with and brings about some of the things you worry about. (2)Ram offers his free book full of retiree stories here!