“Worrying is using your imagination to create something you don’t want.” Esther Hicks
Sometimes we worry. We worry about our frequent lapses with our diet, most recently it was pizza (sausage pizza) but it was the only restaurant in town open that late. Really. We worry about not exercising enough. We worry about Marcia’s mother and our kids and grandkids. We worry about the two trees in our front yard closest to the house and hope they will not fall on us during the frequent storms. We worry about how to bring down our electric bill and gas bill and grocery bill and insurance bill and telephone bill. Then we scold ourselves for worrying. We remind ourselves that worrying is not good for your health. Then we worry about all our worrying.
Worry, according to Webster’s is ‘anxiety and apprehension.’ Who hasn’t been anxious about their job, or their finances, their children or health and many other areas? Worry is not all bad. Worry alerts us to pay attention to the potential in a situation. Yet, excessive worrying is immobilizing and creates a vicious circle, where the person is unable to change things for the better. Doctors tell us too much worrying can lead to heart trouble and other health risks. The famous Psychologist, Viktor Frankl, spent years in a Nazi concentration camp and said that, “Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms, to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances….”
Philosophers have called life a balance of opposites. What, we wondered, is the opposite of worry? We decided that, for us, it is faith and positive imagination. According to Webster’s faith is confidence, assurance and acceptance. With faith we are able to have a positive imagination. Instead of worrying and creating the things we don’t want, we can use our minds positively to create a life we do want. Richard Wiseman found in his research that people who had faith or belief that things would work out well had more favorable things happen to them. They were not immobilized with fear and were able to move forward. Researcher Daniel Goleman also confirmed that studies show positive expectations lead to better results in life.
Imagination is a double edged sword in this balance of opposites. Worry clues us in to what might need changing. The problem comes when we do not then use the other side of the sword, positive imagination and faith. Worry is negative imagination. It takes faith along with a positive imagination to build a future, where things are happy and to energize the things we want in life. There is an often used illustration that if we took a wide board and put bricks under it, we could easily walk across it for thirty feet. However, take the same board and put it between two very high buildings and the probability of a fall would be great. Our fears and worries would rule. We plead guilty.
Sometimes instead of having a worry fest, we make a list of our goals. It is a kind of wish list of favorable things we want to happen. We try hard to think positive about them and then store them in a safe keeping place. Surprisingly when we review our list, months later, many of our objectives have been reached.
Perhaps a fulfilling life is all up to us and we can’t blame anyone else. Hold it! This could be a scary thought!
Gordon Mercer is past president and on the Board of Trustees of Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society and professor emeritus at Western Carolina University. Marcia Gaines Mercer is a published author and columnist. We have a place in nearby Garden City and love Charleston.