As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind.” I think Emerson was on to something. People have a tendency to catastrophize what they anticipate will become a negative experience instead of taking on the challenge and owning the problem, or even flipping the negative and making it an accomplishment that they survived. Are the negative experiences we have had ever as bad as we dreamed they were going to be? Catastrophizing robs us of peace of mind and can prevent us from moving forward, and in extreme cases can even lead some into a noose or to the top of a bridge deck to contemplate a permanent solution to almost always very temporary problems.

Baz Luhrmann said it best in his song Everybody is Free to Wear Sunscreen: “Don’t worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as affective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindsides you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.”

Perspective is an Antidote to Worry
It is true, the things we don’t prepare for are most apt to really change us in the moment; it’s not things we see coming, it’s the ones we don’t. This isn’t a lack of planning, either, sometimes life derails us and no amount of planning changes that. Like what happened to a beautiful young mother of three small children I met one morning when I went to inform her of her husbands murder on the fifth anniversary of their oldest son’s birth. For her, the night before was like any other as she wished her hubby off for a good time on the town with his buddies not knowing it would be the last time she would speak with him. He was a normal, hard working, and by all accounts great father who on the night of his homicide attended a house party with a couple of friends, one unbeknownst to the others in the group was not welcome. In the skirmish that followed a knife was stuck into the father’s chest without cause and he died minutes later in his friend’s arms. This outcome obviously changed his and everyone who loved him lives forever. It is one of many cases that really provides perspective when I think about the things we worry about, versus what his young widow must now contend with; suddenly being passed over for that next raise or getting into an argument with your spouse seems somewhat insignificant by comparison.

We all have bad days, I of course have them too, and that is when I remind myself how fortunate I am. The reality is I work in a career that many would find interesting. The fact is there are more professional hockey players that live in this town then homicide detectives and the stats say only one in every 85,000 kids playing hockey will ever get an opportunity to play one game in the pros. I live in a city of more than a million people, work in an organization of more then two thousand, and there are only fifteen of us city wide who have the opportunity to work in a career many people have only dreamed of as kids as they read the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew. The odds that I would even get this chance seems near impossible, yet here I am. Experience has taught me that worrying over every detail of every day that has troubled me takes away from what I consider to be the very enviable situation that I find myself in. Perspective is a powerful antidote to worry.

Thanks for popping in, we appreciate you taking the time. We’ll have another post next week.
Until then,