Worry is a funny thing. We know that it causes anxiety, which is detrimental to our health, and we know that things are going to happen as they will, regardless of whether we worry about them. And yet we continue to create mental checklists of all the things we could be worrying about, and we continue to struggle with how not to worry.
15 Problems Not Worth Worrying About
15. Taking your time
The world we live in seems to be picking up the pace, and with it, the notion that you have to be able to learn, grow and scale up quickly to be ‘successful.’ This can be daunting for those who like—or need—to take their time. Back in 2005, journalist Carl Honoré challenged this notion, finding that the ‘cult of speed’ negatively affects your health and capacity to dream and hurts the economy. As stated in his TED Talk, “by slowing down at the right moments, people find that they do everything better.”
14. What to have for dinner
The bane of the household, what to have for dinner is one of those endless questions that lead to many disputes and headaches. If you’re not one for planning, or perhaps the week just got ahead of you, one of my favourite solutions is to pick three items from the fridge and type these into Google. Et voilà! Let the internet do the thinking.
13. Picking up the phone
I know it’s scary if you pick up the phone; the chance of having to talk to a human increase exponentially! But seriously, a phone-call phobia is a thing, with some interesting reasons behind it, such as believing that phone calls are inefficient, invite the opportunity for conflict, and should only be used for emergencies. Yet, despite all these reasons, there’s something uniquely satisfying about catching up over the phone—like getting a postcard. And if you don’t like it, hang up.
12. Other people’s decisions
We tend to spend a lot of our energy trying to understand why someone said no. “Was it because they didn’t like me? Was it because my idea was stupid?” Unfortunately, there are so many unique inputs and a history of events that go into each decision someone makes, and we have no way of truly understanding why they reacted to us in the way they did. Sometimes it’s worth it to ask, but it’s their decision at the end of the day, and it usually has nothing to do with you.
11. The future of work
There are so many myths about the future of work that are not worth worrying about. Yes, it will look different from where we are today, but no, you will not be rendered useless if you have a degree in social sciences or don’t have an aptitude for coding. While it’s wise to be aware of current and predicted trends and continually invest in your learning, there’s not much sense in spending more energy on this one.
Much like a failure, many of us also fear success. But why? Success means something different to everyone, but generally, it comes with greater responsibility, making an impact, and reaching a seemingly unattainable goal. It always feels like something just out of reach, so what happens if we get it? The unknown. There are plenty of tools to handle the stress of success, though, starting with defining what it means and understanding why you are standing in your way.
Everyone has their definition of failure, but generally, “fear of failure (also called “atychiphobia”) is when we allow that fear to stop us doing the things that can move us forward to achieve our goals.” It’s a debilitating experience and one that many people have felt—or been accused of—at least once in their lives. So it’s obvious why failure is not worth worrying about—this fear holds you back from exploration and adventures and does far more harm than good. Instead, spend that energy checking out some tools for challenging your fears.
8. The unknown
Whether you call it risk aversion or the ‘ambiguity effect,’ the result is the same—we tend to choose the option that we are more familiar with; if there’s any uncertainty, we shy away. It’s that voice in your head telling you always to order the same thing or stay at that job you hate five years longer than you should. But the worst thing that will happen is that you won’t like what you learn, which means you’ll have more information to make a better decision next time. That doesn’t sound so bad!
7. A decision that you already made
What’s done is done. Every decision has a consequence that falls onto a spectrum of what you expected—all you can do at this point is decide if you need to follow up or not. This is essentially the famous lesson of Buddhist master Shantideva, who said, “If the problem can be solved, why worry? Worrying will do you no good if the problem cannot be solved.”
6. Being photo-obsessed
We’ve been taught to think that taking endless photos destroys our sense of being present. So we feel guilty about it and nag those around us. However, research has made an important distinction on this point. If you’re taking photos with the express intent to share them, then yes, drop the phone—but if you’re taking photos because you genuinely love that moment, then go ahead and ignore the haters! Snapping a mindful shot draws you into the moment significantly, allowing you to focus more clearly and even enjoy it more.
5. Getting on the wrong train
Once you’re on the wrong train, the only thing you can reasonably do is wait it out. So why waste that time worrying? Instead, notify the people who need to know, take a breath, and then use the time to catch up on some reading, people watching, or whatever else might tickle your fancy.
4. Missing out
Ah, the dreaded FOMO. You’re planning your week and realize that you’re triple-booked and have three or four more events on your radar that you have to go to. Decision time is painful, so you try to fit it all in. Hello, burnout. Instead, embrace some JOMO (joy of missing out). A particularly satisfying trend in self-care, JOMO gives you permission to say no and let the worries slide away.
3. Not speaking the language
You land in a new country and face the reality of not understanding what’s going on around you. It’s easy to panic and lock yourself up in your room and actively decide not to engage. But the great thing about language is that it’s not only about words. Yes, it is frustrating and exhausting to be immersed in a new language, but it’s also pretty amazing how much can be understood with context and an ounce of effort. And when all else fails, Google Translate and a toothy smile go a long way.
Do you know someone who gets 500+ likes on every photo, even if it’s just a piece of toast with the green stuff? How about someone who deletes every photo that doesn’t hit the 100+ mark? These people exist on everyone’s feed, and while we all agree that likes don’t matter, it’s still consuming way too much energy. Nothing new can be said about this one, but it’s still worth reiterating: likes are not worth worrying about and certainly don’t define you. Write it on a post-it note if it helps. One day we’ll learn (fingers crossed).
1. The dishes
While feeling like you have to do the dishes can cause a lot of anxiety, the simple act of washing dishes mindfully has been found to relieve stress. Because of this, it’s more about reframing—doing dishes shouldn’t be a worry and doesn’t have to be done at any particular time. Still, if you’re feeling stressed or want to build a healthy morning routine, washing dishes is a great (and productive!) way to soothe the mind.