Monday Mornings with Madison


A famous rabbinical scholar once said that we should never worry because all of our fears fall into one of two groups: those that we can do something about and those that we can’t. With regard to those worries that we can do something about, we should just do what needs to be done and then be done with worrying. With regard to those worries that we can do nothing about — well, there’s no point in worrying about them. 

While this advice may sound good in theory, in reality it’s not so easy to act on it. Most of us worry day in and day out. We lug around in our minds a long list of things about which we fret. What if this happens? What if that happens? We visualize any number of worst-case scenarios. And then, when some or most of them never actually come to pass, we just cross them off the list and move on to other fears.

Not only does this worrying consume our valuable time, it also impacts on our physical health and emotional well-being. That is because it makes no difference to the human brain whether or not some terrible thing actually happens. A hair-trigger response to fear was a very good thing to have in the very bad old days.  Built into our DNA is an early-warning survival system that constantly monitors the environment for any sign of danger.  People who didn’t respond vigorously to danger didn’t survive long enough to pass on their genes.  Thus, we’re all descendants of world-class worriers.

The trouble now is that anxiety can set into motion the same cascade of fight-or-flight hormones that a hungry lion would.  These days, we’re fortunate to face few dangers that require us to actually fight or flee. Yet our brains remain wired for life and death battles. When we worry, our bodies go through the same alarm response that our ancestors depended upon for their survival. Today, however, it’s a drama that drains our energy, rattles our nerves and leaves us feeling agitated and stressed.

How can you learn to stop worrying? Here are a few suggestions.

Never borrow sorrow from tomorrow;  live one day at a time.  No one knows what tomorrow will bring and the future is not in your control. Since there are so many factors that can affect your fate, look at where you are today and do the best you can with what you have.

Keep your mind focused on the positive.  Hundreds of good things happen every day, starting with the fact that you’re alive. There are also any number of things that you can see as negative. It’s your choice to focus on one or the other. Just remember that whatever you focus on will determine your reality. What you look for, you will find.

Learn to delegate.  Each of us is better at some tasks than at others. Delegate what you do less well to those who can do it better. This will make your life easier and you will have less about which to worry.

Laugh at your worries.  Take any worry to its extreme and you’ll see how ridiculous it becomes. When you exaggerate what you are ready to believe, your logical mind rebels and you can grasp the absurdity of your fears.

There are few better cures for anxiety than simply getting up and moving. Vigorous exercise or even a brisk walk brings oxygen to your system and helps you to better handle your worries.  Then pour yourself a big glass of water. Research has shown that people who drink lots of water, think better and have more positive feelings about their lives.

“I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”  Mark Twain

© 2008 – 2011, Written by Keren Peters-Atkinson, CMO, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services. All rights reserved.

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