Worrying is like smoking. People know it’s bad, but do it anyway. But worrying is unlike smoking, because people who worry don’t harm anybody except themselves.
Basically, people worry because worrying satisfies certain needs they have. For example, some people are said to be happy only when they are miserable. They don’t know how to handle happiness, and are therefore uncomfortable with it. So, they worry until they get miserable. Such people are often called “worry warts.”
Worrying may be important for individuals who are not imaginative and creative, and do not know what else to do with themselves. Worrying gives them something to do. They can worry anywhere and any time. And it doesn’t cost anything to worry. It’s free.
Worrying may also have social value. Two or more people can worry together at the same time and about the same thing. People who worry this way may discover that they have a lot in common. They may therefore become good friends.
Some people who don’t know what to do about their problems usually worry about them. Worrying gives them a feeling that they are at least doing something. If things get better, they may even feel that their worrying helped.
An individual who worries about other people and their problems may benefit by feeling useful and needed, especially if people express their appreciation for his worrisome support.
People who want to worry but don’t know what to worry about should contact the National Association of Worriers. The organization will gladly send them a list of things they can worry about. There is no charge for this service. The National Association of Worriers also distributes the book The Art and Science of Worrying by Alexis Lamont Kilrod, B.Sc., M.A., Ed.D., Ph.D. This valuable book on worrying contains the following chapters: The Origin and History of Worrying, Examples of Worrying in the Old and New Testaments, Important Characters Who Worried in Shakespeare’s Plays, How you Can Become an Expert Worrier in Ten Easy Lessons, Creative Worrying for Business Executives, Settling Goals for Effective Worrying, How Worrying Can Enrich Your Life, How Worrying Can Help you Stop Smoking, Professional Worrying as a Full-Time Career, Worry Your Way to Success, Famous People Who Were Great Worriers, When in Doubt, Worry it Out, How Worry Makes the World Go Round, The Family that Worries Together Stays Together.
So much for humor and satire. Now, let us be serious. It is important to realize that worry can be a powerful force in the world. That happens when worrying leads to anger and then motivates us to do something about important problems. This kind of worry turns out to be positive and healthy.
When enough people become sufficiently worried to so something about their concerns, they can prevent cancer by stopping the pollution of air, food, and water with chemicals and radioactivity. They can save millions of lives by preventing wars. They can get rid of corrupt politicians and even overthrow dictators.
This kind of worry has made life worthwhile and fulfilling for many people. It is responsible for much of our progress throughout history.
Professor Schatz (1920-2005) was the co-discoverer, with Selman Waksman, of streptomycin, the first antibiotic remedy used to treat tuberculosis and a number of other diseases.
Reprinted from “Holistic Medicine ©,” Newsletter of American Holistic Medical Association, October 1980.