Wasteful Worry

by Scott Saad - April 23, 2013

Compared to last year’s Winter/Spring, which was super dry, Boulder, Colorado is seeing its fair share of precipitation. Each of the last three weeks started off with a massive piling of snow on the Monday/Tuesday, followed by a warming trend all the way up until the weekend where temperates were in the 60’s! Then, the cycle starts over again with snow. Very twisty indeed and I think it’s causing everyone around here to go a bit Spring Crazy.

With the snow starting early yesterday morning it took the entire city by surprise when the flakes didn’t stop flying until mid afternoon today! Even the city’s road cleaning crew seemed to be extremely behind this morning as the slush was piling high and cars were more of a mess than I’ve seen them in quite some time.

Yeah… I’m talking about weather here. There is a point… I swear. Bear with me…

While my wife and I were racing to drive our kids to school, a little Subaru (Boulder’s signature car), pulled out in front of me. Now I’m not one to get the rage or anything but it did strike me as odd. While I was Northbound, this person cut across two lanes of traffic to make a left turn in front of me, coming extremely close to making the Southbound traffic slide into them (you know… ‘cause it was wicked snowy out and all).

Here’s the thing. If the person would have waited just an extra five seconds, they would have realized that both Southbound and Northbound traffic was clear, giving them the worry free right-of-way.

The event sparked a thought in my head. This person could not see there was an opening in traffic. Under the duress and worry of a stressful snowy commute an interesting decision was made to risk basic safety. Of course in hindsight, there wasn’t anything to rush about and the safety shouldn’t have been compromised because traffic cleared within seconds.

As humans it’s natural for us to see the events in real time, not fulling understanding them and therefore getting anxious about possible outcomes.

We worry. We worry like no other. We worry about what’s going to happen and for what? What can our worry possibly gain us? It’s not like by worrying we can have a better control over a situation.

How many times have been anxious about something happening but the thing did not even end up happening? I think it’s safe to say that this happens and controls most of us.

If we stop and think about this for a bit, we might realize that an exorbitant amount of energy is put into this worry crap, which ends up having zero payoff. When there is no payoff, one could argue that the energy went to waste.

I hate waste.

I hate wasting my time. I hate putting in effort where I know there is going to be no foreseeable benefit. Frankly, it pisses me off.

What better things could we being doing with our minds if they weren’t consumed by endless worry? Only one could imagine and I would have to think we could put it to better use.

The whole experience reminds me of a story I once heard.

While a wise man was on his deathbed he confessed to his Father, “Father.”, he said. “I’ve lived a very hard life.” He continued, “Most of which has not even happened.”

So how much of our life is spent in this worry? How much of our lives are we wasting on thoughts that won’t even happen? Maybe if we try and put our attention on other things, our worries might start to melt away. Perhaps.

Like the anxiety of the snowy driver that almost caused an unnecessary accident because they didn’t see that everything was okay, we don’t see what’s going to happen next in our lives. By thinking with an optimistic point of view we might find that more times than not, it’s all going to be okay if we just wait the extra time and see.

Put your energy were it counts. We only have so much to give.

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I'm a software geek living and working in Boulder, Colorado. Follow me on Twitter; you'll dig my tweets if you're into that sort of thing.