Ending Worry for Good
It’s an epidemic. Your friend has it, his wife has it, and her father in law has it. What is it? The Merriam-Webster Dictionary gives the anxiety definition as “fear or nervousness about what might happen.” What causes worry? Imagine, if you will, a typical male American office worker’s day. He gets up around 6:00 am to the buzzing of an annoying alarm clock. He scurries downstairs to desperately eat breakfast and then hop in his car. The car takes a while to start. He cusses a little. Then he pulls onto the road. He gets a sugar and caffeine laden cappuccino to fuel his day and add to his heart rate.
Traffic (as usual) is crazy. This makes him even angrier. He finally pulls into the parking garage, ques in the correct code, and buzzes up the elevator just before work starts. The work day (as usual) is routine. His manager comes along and makes some cutting observations. “I saw that you were late to sit down at your desk.” The office worker thinks some unmentionable things about his manager. The manager answers his unspoken thoughts, “I cannot consider you for a promotion this month.” By this time, the office worker’s blood pressure is past normal. He mentally screams, “I hate my job!” He repeats this pattern for 40 years, and dies obese, cancerous, and sickly in a retirement home.
How do we cure anxiety? Make unpopular sacrifices! Our modern Western Culture teaches us the following cultural values:
- Self – (The purpose of life is to maximize what I prefer to do)
- Money – (The purpose of life is to get as much as I can financially)
- Power – (The purpose of life is to be in charge of as much as I can)
- Success – (The purpose of life is to have tons of people saying I am wonderful)
Test these values by past experience. Do they satisfy you? Do they leave you feeling happy? If you are like many people, the answer is no. These cultural attributes are anxiety causes. People often have to go to the Doctor, and get diagnosed with academic nonsense like ocd, ptsd, social anxiety disorder. They spend unnecessary thousands on anxiety medications. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America notes that 18% of our population has some form of anxiety disorder, and only one third receive treatment for their condition. Why the code of silence? There is a powerful cultural rule of thumb at work. If I admit that I am killing myself with my frenetic lifestyle, I will be seen as poor, unpopular, and stupid by my friends, coworkers, and family. But ask yourself, what is more important? Being popular, and dying at age 60? Or being unpopular, and dying at age 100? An ancient Jewish Proverb applies even today, “Better is one handful with tranquility, than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.” (Ecc 4:6)