Why we worry for no reason

Why we worry, Why we worry for no reason
via giphy

We worry as a ‘preventative’ — to thwart any future stress. We try to control the situation with a surfeit of possibilities that we mentally prepare for, most of which never occur.

“I’ve suffered a great many catastrophes in my life. Most of them never happened.” — Mark TwainClick To Tweet

Anxiety is a thinking problem that rides around the racetrack of uncertainty. It imagines issues that don’t yet exist. Caught in the worry loop, imagining fear stimulates discomfort.

But when a worry becomes a reality we realize how capable we are in dealing with it. We grow more resilient. Once we develop the courage to face our problems, like a lighthouse, we develop the energy to share our experience to console others.

To worry or not to worry, whatever happens, happens.

Outsmart your worries


You are not our thoughts. Thoughts are just thoughts. But you are your actions. How you determine what’s reasonable and worth doing versus what’s irrational and worth ignoring demonstrates the emotional strength of your thinking mind.

As Eric Barker writes on his blog:

You’re not your brain; you’re the CEO of your brain. You can’t control everything that goes on in “Mind, Inc.” But you can decide which projects get funded with your attention and action. So when a worry is nagging at you, step back and ask: “Is this useful?”

Worrying is the attempt to control future events that rarely–wait, never happen! Anxiety is a thinking problem for which there are thinking solutions.

Socratic questioning will help you reframe negativity, as will the practice of acceptance. Permitting a bad thought, even exaggerating it, diminishes its effect: you get bored of it. Playing with dialectical forces ultimately reveals the truth.

You can strengthen your emotion muscle through some of the methods outlined below:

‘The worrier is the opposite of a lighthouse’



Worrying can be short-sighted and egotistical. FOMO, or fear of missing out, is a 21st-century problem driven by the use of smartphones. As David Brooks highlights in his article The Epidemic of Worry, ‘the worrier is the opposite of a lighthouse:’

“He doesn’t give out energy for the benefit of others. He absorbs energy at others’ cost.” – Francis O’Gorman, Worrying: A Literary and Cultural History

The voices within tend to silence out the rest. Pro tip: save the worry for later or consider what Mark Twain had to say.

7 articles to read this weekend

Every Saturday I like to share 7 articles on art, creativity, productivity, and tech. Below are my recommendations from this week’s reading.

1. So what?

Follow My Logic? A Connective Word Takes the Lead

“So” may be the new “well,” “um,” “oh” and “like.” No longer content to lurk in the middle of sentences, it has jumped to the beginning, where it can portend many things: transition, certitude, logic, attentiveness, a major insight.

“So” is the modern way to get to the point, to hammer out a conclusion even if it hangs on the veracity of a Google search.


2. ‘Responsible’ aggregation

We’re all aggregators now

If you’re a good aggregator, you want people to click through to the source to get the whole story. Don’t copy-paste the best eight paragraphs out of a 12-paragraph piece and call it aggregating. That’s a reprint.

Aggregation is the art of discovering good content, paraphrasing, and linking out to the primary source.

3. “Poor” state of media

Why is Mike Hudack so mad at media?

The social web amplifies what is essentially human nature, and most (if not all) of us want a momentary titilation, a quick dopamine hit that comes from a listicle or some random set of photos.

Social media amplifies unimportant news, which of course is the irony behind Facebook executive Mike Huckack’s rant this week on Facebook about the poor quality of journalism today. It’s partly his fault since the unessential content makes Facebook money. But it’s also the publishers’ fault for caving in to snackable, viral stories that give people a laugh but don’t make them any smarter.

4. Process > Goals

Forget About Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead

When you focus on the practice instead of the performance, you can enjoy the present moment and improve at the same time.

The game of goal-setting is actually more of a game about consistency. Achievement flows from the ability to show up and do the best you can every day. When you get better at doing the work, success should meet you half-way.

5. Multiple takes

10 Things Garry Winogrand Can Teach You About Street Photography

“When in doubt, click”

The more pictures you take, the more you have to choose from. Same is true for writing. Re-read recommended article #4 this week on practice.

Note: I had no idea who Garry Winogrand was until Teju Cole tweeted out about him.

6. Notebooks = Brain Dumps

Writers’ notebooks: ‘A junkyard of the mind’

A full notebook potentially contains the rest of your writing life. Or nothing of value at all. It is transitional. Work passes through it on the way to becoming something else.

Notebooks are brain dumps. It’s hard to make sense of what’s in there until you see how it all connects. Hindsight is 20/20.

7. Anxiety Thwarts Creativity

Seth Godin on Vulnerability, Creative Courage, and How to Dance with the Fear: A Children’s Book for Grownups

Anxiety is experiencing failure in advance. Tell yourself enough vivid stories about the worst possible outcome of your work and you’ll soon come to believe them. Worry is not preparation, and anxiety doesn’t make you better.

If you’re going to do the work, you might as well do it confidently and laugh at failure for what it is, an impediment to making what you think matters. Seth is such a poker.