Let’s Hear It For Worrying!

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Some minds rarely take a rest—thoughts keep whirring, even throughout the night. What if you could let worrying and mental rumination work to your advantage? 

Worrying, often perceived negatively, can have positive aspects when managed appropriately.

Feelings at the Root of Thoughts 

“He who fears he shall suffer already suffers what he fears” is a well-known quote attributed to the French philosopher Michel de Montaigne. However, the Stoic philosophers recognized this insight as early as the third century BCE, asserting that our feelings are the root of our thoughts: anxiety arises because you think something will fail, and joy emerges because you believe in your brand-new relationship. Problems occur when these feelings become too extreme in either direction. 

Additionally, we can tie ourselves in knots with our thoughts. Interestingly, around 60 percent of our worries are about things over which we have no control, such as what others think of us or past events.  

The term “rumination” comes from the Latin “ruminare,” meaning both “to chew the cud” and “to turn over in the mind.” Both definitions suggest a process of finding a solution to a problem, which can be seen as a positive aspect of rumination.

With a new perspective you may come to realize that your very busy head helps you a lot. For example, having a mind that connects many different ideas is very useful. Brainstorming may come easily to you. And the ability to think about every possible scenario can be very handy. Having a brain that just won’t turn off and sees problems everywhere may also mean that you are an excellent problem solver. Part of taking good care of yourself is having the ability to view situations from different angles.

Healthy and Smart

According to a study by psychology professors Kate Sweeny and Michael Dooley of the University of California, Riverside, worriers often have better health because, for example, they smoke less and are more conscientious about using sunscreen. The researchers found that if you are concerned about something that might happen in the future, then you experience more positive emotions about what actually happens. They also found that worrying is motivating: Thoughts work like a red flag—something is wrong!—and then you are spurred to act.

The Upside of Worry

  • You are better prepared for, and less upset by, unpleasant situations
  •  You are more grateful when something goes well
  •  You understand consequences
  •  You have an eye for detail
  •  You are thoughtful and plan ahead
  •  You are reliable and good at setting priorities

Dare to Think

Very special thoughts are created by worrying.

Maria Janssens, cofounder and head of content at The School of Life in Amsterdam says, “Worrying is often a sign of love.” Whether it is about the people around you, your reputation, your career, or something completely different, when you worry, you’re showing that you care. We worry when we love, and love is and will always be one of the most beautiful things we have. 

Love is good for your heart!