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Why Not to Worry

Posted in Friendly Philosophy

Idea: Worrying is trying to control the future (which is impossible).

Last time, I talked about a helpful technique for shutting down worry. But it works by shutting down imagination. And to do that, we need a really good reason.1

I used to think I worried–I imaginatively rehearsed distressing future situations–because I was “trying to be prepared.” Worry is practice, and the more practice, the better.

But I recently realized that what I’m really doing is trying to control the future. I worry over and over not for practice, but because I only feel in control of the future while I’m imagining it.

So why not worry? It’s an attempt to do the impossible. And that’s not a worthy use of imagination. (We’ll have to talk about worthy uses of the imagination later.)


1. One of Jesus’ clearest commands is not to worry, so you might think that’s reason enough. But trying to be a better Christian on this point never worked for me, for some reason.

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