Wednesday 11 September 2013

Why worry?

No human thing is of serious importance.

Plato (427 -347 BC)

Take therefore no thought for the morrow:
for the morrow shall take thought
for the things of itself.
Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Matthew 6:34 (80 - 90 AD?)

Never let the future disturb you.
You will meet it, if you have to,
with the same weapons of reason
which today arm you against the present.

Marcus Aurelius ( 121 - 180 AD)

There were many terrible things in my life
and most of them never happened.

Michel de Montaigne (1533 -1592)

Do not anticipate trouble,
or worry about what may never happen.
Keep in the sunlight.

Benjamin Franklin (1706 -1790)

Drag your thoughts away from your troubles...
by the ears,by the heels,
or any other way you can manage it.

Mark Twain (1835 -1910)

It ain't no use putting up your umbrella until it rains.

Alice Caldwell-Rice (1870 -1942)

Worry is interest paid on debt not yet incurred.

William Ralph Inge (1860 -1954) 

When I look back on all these worries,
I remember the story of the old man
who said on his deathbed that
he had a lot of trouble in his life,
most of which had never happened.

Winston Churchill  (1874 -1965)

Worry is like a rocking chair -
it keeps you busy but gets you nowhere.


Blessed is the person who is too busy 
to worry in the daytime
and too sleepy to worry at night.

Leo Aikman (1908 - 1978)

Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow
but only saps today of its strength.

A.J. Cronin (1896 - 1981)

Linus via Charles M. Schulz (1922 -2000)

From Plato to Peanuts,
the message couldn't be clearer.
Don't worry.
Worry is fruitless.
Worry gets you nowhere.

But the message doesn't seem to be getting through.
So why worry?

Well I suppose I believe I am rehearsing
possible outcomes to problems
in the hope that if I think about them hard enough
I will be prepared for any eventuality -
a sort of insurance policy against all ills
and a superstitious proof of caring enough.

Well that might be a good enough argument, 
if having once gone through that process
I then put them in a box marked 'Dealt With' 
and left them there.
But no, I open it repeatedly
and pull out all those outcomes,
and the worry, instead of responding to this
careful re-examination by diminishing,
grows tentacles and fangs
and develops a lively personality of its own.
It is impossible to cram it back in the box.

So how can I control it?
I look back through the centuries for some help.
Most of the above sages are articulating
what I already know. 
Who is offering practical advice?

Leo Aikman says keep busy and tire yourself out.

Hmm. Not sure about that one.
The tentacled monster's insistent commentary 
plays on a loop like those annoying earworms, 
regardless of my activity level.

Vera Nazarian expresses the problem
somewhat apocalyptically,

Worry is the secret weapon perpetrated on us
by the dark forces of the world that work in the shape of
fear, uncertainty, confusion and loss.

but then rather surprisingly puts out a helping hand. . .

We on the other hand, have our own secret weapon
against those incorporeal fiends.
It is laughter.

Mark Twain is pragmatic.

Drag your thoughts away from your troubles...
by the ears, by the heels
or any other way you can manage it.

Benjamin Franklin says,
Keep in the sunlight.

I will muse upon these suggestions 
with palliative remedies to hand -
 a bag of yogurt-coated apricot pieces
and a Matt cartoon.

And if anyone has drifted down as far as this
perhaps they might like to
put forward their own remedies.

We used to have an animatronic fish
called Billy Big mouth Bass that sang this song.
It was very annoying.


  1. I'm trying to remember where it was I read lately that one should put aside a fixed 10 minutes a day in the morning, and again in the evening, to worry. If you get worried before the designated time, you must consciously put aside your concerns until your slot. If you miss a worry-slot through lack of attention, bad luck, you have to wait till the next. My eight year old daughter was very pleased with this approach.

    I hope, whatever you try, that your worries will recede, and I wish I could call round with cake.

    1. I have just read something similar about postponing rather than stopping worrying here:

      Thank you. Worries do tend to recede, although usually to be replaced smartly with a new variety.

  2. No remedies, but I will be reading all comments for further tips. Don't you think that worriers should grade themselves? With 50yrs+ experience, founded on just cause, I reckon I'm pretty skilled. Not something I'm proud of, though.

    1. I think that just causes are less nebulous than those of the not- yet-happened type and probably ought to be called something else. Grading worries is an interesting idea and might help to distract. Separating them could be tricky.

  3. I've always been a bit of a worry wart. How do I manage to keep the worries from completely morphing into something like mental illness? Well, first I take deep breaths. That is what yoga has taught me. Then, I trust God. That is what my Catholic parents taught me. If this fails to calm me down, I watch a film like 'The Decoy Bride.' Humour does work. I've also realized that things generally work out for the best, but having some bad moments is only human. I also go for long walks or a run. That is what my body has taught me - endorphines are excellent for putting worry in its place.

    1. All sound advice. Which sort of yoga do you do?

    2. Mainly Iyengar Yoga. We hold poses for a longer time than in Hatha yoga, use blocks and other things to help us gain a pose, and try to achieve perfect alignment. We're also allowed to make the occasional joke and laugh during class. I'm not sure if that is Iyengar or just our instructor's approach :)

  4. Nothing I can add to that. In fact I learned a lot (I'm a worry-wort par excellence!)


  5. Knowing that worrying doesn't help, doesn't help, does it? I hope yours vanish soon. I don't think mine will!

  6. Scriptures that remind me that I can trust in the Lord help.

  7. Usually I can distract myself by watching laughing babies on you tube, they make me giggle like a child.

    I hope your worries will soon leave you.

  8. Another fan of Iyengar yoga, knitting, light weight books (serious stuff requires you to be in non worrying mode) and wine. Walking is good too. Just the putting of one foot in front of the other.

  9. I needed to read this post today ... thank you :)