It seldom pays to worry in life

Like many people, I’m a moderate worrier. I don’t spend my whole life worrying, but there is always an undertone of “What if. . . .”
After World War II, I worried a lot about “What if the expected nuclear holocaust actually happened.”
For a few years, I was so worried that I thought I should live only for the present because there may be no future.
“What if our money didn’t hold out?” “What if one of my parents would die young?” “What if we had an auto accident?”
There were a lot of things to worry about. But early on, I noticed that the things I worried about rarely came to pass. And even if they did, I was able to cope.
Being not only a worrier but also a pragmatist, I usually try to figure out a solution for my worry.
As for worrying about an auto accident, I actually started worrying ahead. And then when the trip began, I relaxed thinking nothing would happen because I had worried!
Another time I was very worried was the Cuban missile crisis during the height of the Cold War of the 1960s. We lived in Edmonton, Alta. at the time and Edmonton was a likely target because there was a U.S. air base in the city.
As a result, there were escape routes designated for every area of the city, in case the siren should sound. We were told to have water, some food, and clothing in the car, and always have a full tank of gas.
And then it happened. Early one Sunday morning, the siren sounded—its shrill sound piercing our peaceful community.
I still can’t believe this but after all my worry and preparedness, we lay in bed as the eerie sound went on and on. We both said, “It must be a malfunction!”
All that worry, and no action!
That experience taught me a lesson: worry doesn’t pay.
While writing this column, I wanted to know whether worry was a risk factor for healthy aging. So I Googled the words worry and aging. To my surprise, I had more than 18 million hits!
Of the sites I looked at, none saw worry as a risk factor, although worrying is bad for your health. Most worried about the side effects of aging and what will happen to them as they age.
Others worried about their aging parents.
We are all aging from the day we’re born; so if we worry about aging, we’ll worry until we die. What a waste of life–worrying instead of living fully!
George Burns, who lived more than 100 years, had this to say about worry: “If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress, and tension.”
And then with his typical dry humour, Burns went on to say, “And if you didn’t ask me, I’d still have to say it.”
For George Burns, worrying about aging, or anything, was counterproductive. So rather than worrying about the inevitable, why not follow Burns and do the things that make for “healthy aging,” instead of worrying yourself into “unhealthy aging?”
And whatever happens, remember, you can always cope.
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist.
Write her at or visit

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