I come from a long line of worriers. As a youngster and even as an adult I found it difficult to understand why mom would worry about the smallest of things. When you’re young, life’s an adventure. Each day brings new opportunity. Today it may have rained but tomorrow is sure to be sunny and bright. Tomorrow was always a new day, full of opportunity, new events that would shape the day and the world. Change was good. Change was exciting. Change was welcomed.
So why is it that as you age, not only do things start to sag, hair grows grey and recedes and your concern for things both in your control and beyond, begin to weigh heavy on your mind? Change is not so good. Change brings turmoil and confusion. Change is uncomfortable and triggers resistance.
Mom, and her mom before her, would stress out over the big news of the day as well as the every day tasks. Tested by the great depression, two world wars, an evolving cold war, Korean Conflict, Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam, assassinations, riots in the street and political corruption, they had plenty of big things to worry about.
Looking back their world went from one major crisis event to another. Despite their fears and concerns there was always an optimism that things would turnout okay. There was a happiness that calmed the underlining fears. They had faith, they had family, they had a society that somehow gave them an inner confidence.
They were told that they had nothing to fear but fear itself. So they went about the tasks of the days building their lives and their future, focused on their jobs, their family and their dependence on each other.
As I age I find myself more stressed than in my early years. Not only do I worry about the big issues of the day, national and international events, but even the little things seem to be a greater concern than they once did. There are plenty of major issues to fret about as the world turns and there is always any number of little things in life to bring about heartburn and sleepless nights.
Is worrying about life’s ups and downs hardwired into my DNA, a hereditary trait, or is it just a function of aging? Or, does it come about as you begin to realize your plans for the future don’t always work out given the ebb and flow of an ever changing landscape and with those you share the world.
A recent survey revealed that a resilient attitude may be the secret to aging successfully. In fact they believe a positive attitude may be more important to aging than good physical health. So there may be some truth to the old wives tale of worrying one’s self to death.
So the bottom line is this; Mayan calendar predicting the end of the world on December 21st of this year; fiscal cliff looming on the horizon; financial struggles; personal concerns; what to write in next week’s column…. Hey, bring em on. There is little we can’t overcome if we approach things with a positive, can do attitude.
If we’ve learned anything through out time there will always be issues beyond our control and as mere humans we are fallible, destined to trip up. We only make things worse for ourselves if we dwell on the negative. We need to be responsible for our actions but we only go around once so we need to make the most of what we’ve been given, keep our focus on the future and our optimism high. Life is short. Every day is a gift, which is why they call it the “present.”
Dan Alexander is associate publisher of New Market Press. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.