On worry

A few close friends know I’ve had a, let me say, concern the last few days. I will not bore those just passing by with details. (Or, as my longtime friend Bill Sumrall says, “TMI” – too much information.)

During these days, I thought about the following column, which appeared in the Anderson (SC) Independent-Mail 7 September 1987. I thought I would dust if off and share it with you, dear reader, because it is very much who I am.

Life without worry isn’t E-Z-z-z-z-z

By B. J. Trotter

I cut my eyeteeth on the wonderfully “moxie” Mad magazine, featuring Alfred E. Neuman.

You remember Alfred. He’s the gap-toothed, freckled-faced kid with that great attitude, “What, Me Worry?”

I got to thinking about worry at the drugstore the other day while reading the instructions on a bottle of Lady Grecian Formula.

The product claims to restore natural color to all those gray hairs that greet some of us each morning from the bathroom mirror. And, you know what causes gray hairs.

Why is it that so many of us spend so much time worrying when that effort is unproductive and won’t change a thing that’s happening in our lives?

Norman Vincent Peale devotes a convincing chapter to the absurdity, the uselessness of worry in his book, “The Power of Positive Thinking.” I highly recommend his advice.

I have tried to take it myself. Sometimes it’s not easy, but to rid my days and nights of worry I’ve adopted something of a two-part, light-hearted philosophy of life.

Part I is based on an old, laminated copy of a Peanuts comic strip, which has been a fun lesson throughout the years.

In the first frame, Snoopy is lying on his back atop his doghouse staring at a starry night sky. He says, “Sometimes I can’t get to sleep at night because I worry that a star will fall on my head.”

In the second frame, he frets, “Sometimes I can’t get to sleep at night because I worry that a queen snake will come up and chomp me.”

Third frame: “Sometimes I think about how it would be if the star fell on the queen snake.”

And, in the fourth frame: “Z-z-z-z.”

I’m with Snoopy, Alfred and Dr. Peale.

I think a lot of us spend too much time worrying about the past, which we cannot change, and about where our lives are taking us. Isn’t that a senseless waste when that time is ours to use for better things? And, those better things might just take us where we want to go.

Part II of this homespun philosply deals mostly with ridding myself of the tyranny of expectations - that’s knocking yourself out to fit into some mold another person has created for you.

Being myself comes easier with the help of my favorite movie line, spoken with conviction by Glenn Ford in the oldie, “Teahouse of the August Moon:”

“I have made peace with myself somewhere between my ambitions and my limitations.”

Arriving at that plateau can provide you with all the “moxie” you want, without spending your money on a magazine or self-help book.

Or, for that matter, Lady Grecian Formula.



Frodo, au natural said...

Try being married to someone who dyes her hair to match her dogs' coat (Fiona, not Mick, the Wonder Dog).

Infidel753 said...

The way I always look at it is, if worrying did any good, I'd be willing to worry, but it almost never does. The bad economy has more people more worried than ever, but does worrying about losing your job make it less likely to happen? Not that I can see.

It has been said that if you see ten problems way down the road rushing toward you, nine of them will probably run off the road and into the ditch before they get to you. I've generally found this to be true.

Nice photo.

B.J. said...

Frodo: can we assume that Samwise does not read DemWit? LOL!!!

Thanks, I-753. I like your example of problems running toward you. At the same time, I’ve always heard that you can’t go down the road looking for happiness: it will come to you.

And, while we’re on the “road” theme, here’s an old Chinese proverb I love, “Why meet we on the bridge of life, to exchange one greeting, then to pass?” A lot of truth in that one!

Ciao! BJ

Tiny said...

Tiny gave up worry in March 1978 when she learned it was just a waste of time and energy. Plus, it is praying intently for what you do not want.

What we think about, we bring about. Or another way of saying it, Thoughts held in mind produce after their kind. So who wants to plant negative seeds to harvest!

airth10 said...

Norman Vincent Peale made some good points. But I think he gave people the wrong message. I am thinking that his ideas made some people too cocky, like the people that led us in the economic crisis we are in today. They believed, like George Bush, that if you thought optimistically the world would turn out right. And that has not been the case. Positive thinking like that of Phil Gramm's has been a sham.

There is also power in pessimistic thinking. And worry does have it merits. If one worries that can mean one believes in a future. Constructive worry and pessimism looks for the pitfalls that lurk around every corner. Worriers tends to correct things. Imagine, if the past administration had worried more about the economy we wouldn't be in the mess we are in toay.

Infidel753 said...

My experience has been that worry and pessimistic thinking lead to defeatism and paralysis. There is certainly value in rationally assessing problems to determine what can be done to solve them, but that works best when it is done dispassionately and objectively -- not by fretting.

B.J. said...

Airth: I think there is a distinction between “worry” and “concern.” Worry solves nothing; concern might. Frodo (near Atlanta) and I got a big old dose of worry tonight – tornados all over the place. City of Anderson had two warnings with about 20 separate warning in Anderson County. Same number for Atlanta area. (Atlanta is 90 miles southwest of me.) I put my ID inside my sock inside my shoe and my sports whistle around my neck and hope for the best, LOL. What, Me Worry? BJ

airth10 said...

BJ, You are splitting hairs.

Infidel753 said...

You are splitting hairs.

Ah, but are they Lady-Grecian-Formula-treated hairs? :-)