I used to worry. A lot. The more I fretted, the more proficient I became at it. Anxiety begets anxiety. I even worried that I worried too much! Ulcers might develop. My health could fail. My finances could deplete to pay the hospital bills.
A comedian once said, "I tried to drown my worries with gin, but my worries are equipped with flotation devices." While not a drinker, I certainly could identify! My worries could swim, jump and pole vault!
To get some perspective, I visited a well known, Dallas businessman, Fred Smith. Fred mentored such luminaries as motivational whiz Zig Ziglar, business guru Ken Blanchard and leadership expert John Maxwell. Fred listened as I poured out my concerns and then said, "Vicki, you need to learn to wait to worry."
As the words sank in, I asked Fred if he ever spent time fretting. (I was quite certain he wouldn't admit it if he did. He was pretty full of testosterone—even at age 90.) To my surprise, he confessed that in years gone by he had been a top-notch worrier!
"I decided that I would wait to worry!" he explained. "I decided that I'd wait until I actually had a reason to worry—something that was happening, not just something that might happen—before I worried."
"When I'm tempted to get alarmed," he confided, "I tell myself, 'Fred, you've got to wait to worry! Until you know differently, don't worry.' And I don't. Waiting to worry helps me develop the habit of not worrying and that helps me not be tempted to worry."
Fred possessed a quick mind and a gift for gab. As such, he became a captivating public speaker. "I frequently ask audiences what they were worried about this time last year. I get a lot of laughs," he said, "because most people can't remember. Then I ask if they have a current worry—you see nods from everybody. Then I remind them that the average worrier is 92% inefficient—only 8% of what we worry about ever comes true."
Charles Spurgeon said it best. "Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, but only empties today of its strength."
Most of us want to be positive. It's advantageous to possess a sunny outlook. Doors open to optimists. They make friends, earn respect, close sales, produce loyal clients, and others enjoy and want to be like them. The question is how can we do that consistently?