The Good Life

Good Worry

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Do you worry a lot? That’s usually considered a bad thing. According to Dr. martin Rossman, a pioneer of mind/body healing, that’s because most of us don’t know how to worry well. He says we can learn to use worry to manage stress instead of causing it. Good worry is an adaptive survival function: we use our imaginations to anticipate potential dangers, then develop ways to avoid them.

If our primeval ancestors walked through the jungle without thinking about it in advance, we probably would not be here now. Worry not only helps us anticipate dangers, but it also helps us solve problems.

The thing is that worry can easily degrade from a problem-solving function into a bad habit, through which we ruminate and obsess about what we don’t want to have happen. Research shows that over 85 percent of things people worry about never happen. At some deep, unconscious level of the brain, it may conclude that these things did not happen specifically because we worried about them!

Rossman says the good news is that because worry is a learned habit, we can learn to worry well. The solution, like the problem itself, lies in how we use our imaginations.

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