Something to think about: Don’t worry, be happy

By From page A4 | January 10, 2014

The 14th Dalai Lama said, “If a problem is fixable; if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it’s not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.”

My grandmother used to say the same thing, or close enough. Chronic worrying can cause heart palpitations, sweaty palms, confused thinking and panic attacks. But experts, or what passes for them, have determined that there is “healthy worrying” and “excessive worrying.” One of them will take you down back streets to circumvent the Apple Hill traffic and the other might cause a heart attack.

With the information superhighway speeding news into your brain every minute, most of it scary, worrying might just be the way most people roll. Global warming, drought, polar bears, genetically modified everything, fracking, second-hand smoke, obesity, swine flu, bird flu, too much television, too little exercise, unemployment, taxes — chronic worriers can take their pick out of a smorgasbord of global, national and personal issues to fret about.

In the interest of doing my civic duty to save lives, I’ve found a number of things to scratch off the Worry List and give worriers a chance to catch their collective breath:

You no longer need to worry about getting stuck in a phone booth. You also don’t need to concern yourself with getting into a phone booth and finding the Yellow Pages are missing and that you don’t have the right change. What phone booths? Have you noticed their absence on city streets? Stop worrying.

Don’t worry any more about being hit by an asteroid. The odds are one in 75 million that you will be smushed by a falling star. At one in 11.5 million, the odds of a shark attack are far more probable. Stay away from the ocean and stop worrying.

You need not fret about dropping off canisters of film at the drug store, melted film or looking through innumerable snapshots of your family as red-eyed vampires. Digital cameras have made film almost obsolete and Photoshop fixes all manner of imperfections. Delete the pictures you don’t like — the ones you took of your foot or where your hair looked goofy.

It may be a trifle worrisome that everyone on the planet with a phone can take photos and post them on the Internet, like my 6-year-old granddaughter taking photos of her 4-year-old sister on the potty, but you can always delete them — if you can catch the photographer.

In Colorado, stoners no longer have to worry about being busted for smoking a joint in their home or in the home of anyone who allows them to enjoy a doobie in the hot tub. Voters legalized recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington in 2012, but Colorado was ready to implement the law at the first of this new year, delighting hordes of people who stood in line for hours to purchase an eighth of an ounce.

Getting lost is no longer a worrisome thing, even for those with no sense of direction. GPS devices in your phone or as a portable device tell you where to go, and although, you can still get lost if you try, it’s a lot harder than it used to be.

No more encyclopedia salesmen trooping up to your door lugging heavy cases of books and interminable sales pitches to worry about either. The Internet has made print version encyclopedias as dead as the dodo bird.

In the future, you might not have to worry about the Library Police. Being able to check out ebooks eliminates overdue fines and having to remember to take your book back. E-titles simply vanish off your Kindle when the time is up.

To be sure, the world has plenty to worry about, but, as my grandma used to say, “If you can’t do something about it, try not to think about it.”

Wendy Schultz is a staff writer and columnist for the Mountain Democrat. Her column appears bi-weekly.

Wendy Schultz

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