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There are people who seem to make a life out of worrying, who can't look at anything going on in their lives without finding cause to think that the worst of everything is going to happen, and that it's going to happen to them or to those they love--or both.  But these people who worry so much are forgetting some very important life lessons, the most important of which is that worrying doesn't change a single thing, doesn't help a bit.

So why worry?

It's easy to be concerned when someone is about to do something risky.  If one of my step-daughters suddenly took off for a third-world country that's plagued by violence without any extra money or security measures, it would be very easy for me to worry about her safety and well-being.  There would be many things that could happen to her, and it would be easy to focus on those negative possibilities and worry about her.  But my worrying wouldn't do a thing to change her situation, and it would make me rather miserable.  And if she called to say hi and I could only talk about how worried I was, I wouldn't be able to support or encourage her at all.

If I suddenly lost my job and didn't have any money in the bank, I most definitely could worry about my finances--I might end up losing my home and many of my possessions, and I could go into debt and ruin my credit rating.

But my worrying wouldn't help the situation at all, and it could negatively impact my health through the stress and strife that I would experience.

Worrying comes when we think of negative future possibilities.  It's that simple--we spend time and energy thinking about negative things that could happen, not that have happened.  And therefore the energy that were expending usually is wasted because those negative things tend not to come about after all.  Mark Twain said that "I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened
," and most of us can relate to this statement.  Most of what we worry about never comes to pass, and the time we spent worrying was time and energy wasted.

And even if the worst does come to pass, the worrying didn't do a thing to help make it less difficult, less intense, less negative.  We might have spent our time preparing for the outcome rather than worrying about it, but instead we devoted our energy to purely self-centered concern.

Worry is a reflection of a lack of faith that life will be good to us, a lack of faith that God and life are in control and will make our lives full and vibrant.  Worry reflects a lack of faith in oneself and in other people to do things that need to be done when they need to be done, and a lack of trust that we'll be able to deal with difficulties when they surface in our lives.

Worry keeps us from helping other people, it causes us many negative results through the stress and strife that it brings, and it wastes a lot of the precious energy that we have in our lives.  The only way to combat worry, it seems, is through acceptance--acceptance of the current situations in our lives--and attempting to take positive action to counter the effects of possible negative factors in our lives.  Worry doesn't change anything except our own stress levels, and it's important that we leave it behind as soon as we can if we wish to live our lives and our todays fully and completely.

* * *

The history of the word:

Worrying may shorten one's life, but not as quickly as it once did.  The ancestor of our word, Old English wyrgan, meant "to strangle."  Its Middle English descendant, worien, kept this sense and developed the new sense "to grasp by the throat with the teeth and lacerate" or "to kill or injure by biting and shaking."  This is the way wolves or dogs might attack sheep, for example.  In the 16th century worry began to be used in the sense "to harass, as by rough treatment or attack," or "to assault verbally," and in the 17th century the word took on the sense "to bother, distress, or persecute."  It was a small step from this sense to the main modern senses "to cause to feel anxious or distressed" and "to feel troubled or uneasy," first recorded in the 19th century.  (from Houghton Mifflin/Yahoo)


A man ninety years old was asked to what he attributed his longevity.
“I reckon,” he said, with a twinkle in his eye, “it’s because most nights
I went to bed and slept when I should have sat up and worried.”

Dorothea Kent

It is not work that kills us; it is worry.  Work is healthy and you can
hardly put more upon a person than he or she can bear;
but worry is the rust upon the blade.

Henry Ward Beecher

Mental problems feed upon the attention you give them.  The more you
worry about them, the stronger they become.  If you ignore them,
they lose their power and finally vanish.

Annamalai Swami


The more we worry--the more we have something to worry about.

Tom Seeley


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Worry is like a rocking chair—it keeps you moving
but doesn’t get you anywhere.

Corrie Ten Boom

Worrying is carrying tomorrow's load with today's strength--
carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow
ahead of time. Worrying doesn't empty tomorrow of its
sorrow, it empties today of its strength.

Death was walking toward a city one morning and a man asked, "What are
you going to do there?"  "I'm going to take one hundred people," Death replied.
"That's horrible!" the man said.  "That's the way it is," Death said.  "Well, we'll
see about that," said the man as he hurried to warn everyone he could about
Death's plan.  As evening fell, he met Death again.  "You told me you were
going to take one hundred people," the man said.  "Why did one
thousand die?"  "I kept my word," Death answered.  "I took
only one hundred.  Worry took the rest."

Contemporary spiritual story

There is a great difference between worry and concern.  A worried
person sees a problem, and a concerned person solves a problem.

Harold Stephens

There is nothing that wastes the body like worry,
and one who has any faith in God should be ashamed
to worry about anything whatsoever.

Mohandas Gandhi


If you can't sleep, then get up and do something instead of lying there
worrying.  It's the worry that gets you, not the lack of sleep.

Dale Carnegie

I believe God is managing affairs and that He doesn't need
any advice from me.  With God in charge, I believe everything
will work out for the best in the end. So what is there to worry about?

Henry Ford

Worry a little bit every day and in a lifetime you will lose
a couple of years.  If something is wrong, fix it if you can.
But train yourself not to worry.  Worry never fixes anything.

Mary Hemingway


Do you remember the things you were worrying about
a year ago?  How did they work out?  Didn't you waste
a lot of fruitless energy on account of most of them?
Didn't most of them turn out all right after all?

Dale Carnegie

Worry not about the possible troubles of the future; for if
they come, you are but anticipating and adding to their weight;
and if they do not come, your worry is useless; and in either
case it is weak and in vain, and a distrust of God's providence.

Hugh Blair


Anxiety never yet successfully bridged any chasm.



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One of the worst features about worrying is that it destroys our
ability to concentrate.  When we worry, our minds jump here and
there and everywhere, and we lose all power of decision.  However,
when we force ourselves to face the worst and accept it mentally,
we then eliminate all these vague imaginings and put ourselves in a
position in which we are able to concentrate on our problem.

Willis H. Carrier


Remember that our fearful thoughts are exaggerated and can
make the problem worse.  A good way to manage your worry
is to challenge your negative thinking with positive statements
and realistic thinking.  When encountering thoughts that make
you fearful or anxious, challenge those thoughts by asking yourself
questions that will maintain objectivity and common sense.
    When overwhelmed with worry, you may encounter a lot of
scary thoughts coming at you all at once.  Instead of getting upset,
remember that these thoughts are exaggerated and are not based
on reality.  From my interviews with various professionals, I’ve learned
that usually it is the fear behind the thoughts that gets us worked up.
Ignore the fear behind these thoughts and your worry should decrease.

Stanley Popovich


Worries cannot be willed away by consciously refusing to acknowledge
them--they must be pulled up by the roots and examined in the light, not
pushed deeper into the unconscious where they only do darker mischief
by disguising themselves in some bizarre manner.

Sydney J. Harris


Nothing is so wretched or foolish as to anticipate misfortunes.
What madness is it to be expecting evil before it comes.



Worry is one of those "hamster wheels" of our lives, offering us the
opportunity to live through terrible things that never happen.  When we
stop to catch our breath, we might ask ourselves, "Why pre-worry?" "Why
live through something that hasn't happened and may never happen?"  Do
we actually believe that worry practice will make us better prepared?
   Remember, everything has a beginning and an ending.  We only need to
deal with situations in our lives as they are happening, not before.  Today's
disasters may tomorrow or next week be seen as one of life's gifts.
All we have to do is deal with what is in front of us.

Anne Wilson Schaef
Meditations for Living in Balance


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You can think about your problems or you can worry about them, and there is
a vast difference between the two.  Worry is thinking that has turned toxic.
It is jarring music that goes round and round and never comes to either
climax or conclusion.  Thinking works its way through problems to conclusions
and decisions; worry leaves you in a state of tensely suspended animation.
When you worry, you go over the same ground endlessly and come out the
same place you started.  Thinking makes progress from one place to
another; worry remains static.  The problem of life is to change worry
into thinking and anxiety into creative action.

Harold B. Walker

How often are you worrying about the present moment?  The present
moment is usually all right.  If you're worrying, you're either agonizing
over the past which you should have forgotten long ago, or else you're
apprehensive over the future which hasn't even come yet.  We tend to
skip over the present moment which is the
only moment God gives any of us to live.

Peace Pilgrim


Worry is like a microscope.  It makes every little misery look huge.
We can use a telescope, and see far away into life.  We shall see
much, but worry we shall hardly notice.  We shall find it so small.

Nicholas Rodney

Worry is an infirmity; there is no virtue in it.  Worry is spiritual
nearsightedness; a fumbling way of looking at little things
and magnifying their value.

Anna Brown Lindsay

Worry is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind.  If encouraged,
it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.

Arthur S. Roche


Worry is the interest which we pay on trouble before it comes,
and we attract trouble every time we worry about it.

Albert E. Cliffe

I have also learned that patience and time have a way of
resolving our troubles.  When I am worried about something,
I try to see my troubles in their proper perspective.  I say
to myself:  "Two months from now I shall not be worrying
about this bad break, so why worry about it now?  Why not
assume now the same attitude that I will have two months from now?"

William Lyon Phelps