NOELLE CAME TO WORK worried about her roommate,
Jana, who didnt come home the night before and didnt
call. That wasnt like Jana, and Noelle was worried.
But Noelles worry did not benefit
Jana, and it harmed Noelle. Worry put stress hormones into her
bloodstream, which isnt healthy. It suppressed her immune
system. If she worries a lot, it will damage the inside of her
arteries, which can end in a heart attack or stroke many years
hence. Needless worry is a cost without a benefit. And its
If you are worrying and want to stop, first
ask yourself if theres anything youre going to do
about the situation. If not, then start wondering what good things
might be happening. Do not try to stop worrying.
Research by Daniel Wegner, PhD, of the
University of Virginia and author of the book, White Bears and Other Unwanted Thoughts: Suppression,
Obesession, and the Psychology of Mental Control, has repeatedly
shown that trying to suppress thoughts only results in thinking
the thought more. If you try to suppress a thought hard enough,
that thought can become an obsession.
Try to stop worrying and youll worry
even more. What you want to do is give your mind a bone to chew
on, but a different bone. Worrying is imagining something
bad happening. Simply imagine something good happening, and there
will be less room in your mind for imagining something bad happening.
Your mind has its limits, like the RAM of a computer. Give it
enough to do, and it wont have the free space to do anything
If worrying is a habit for you, it wont
go away immediately. Every time you start to worry, ask yourself
what good might be happening. And keep asking and wondering and
then leave it at thatan open-ended possibility. Do this
and something good will be happening to you: Youll
feel better and youll be healthier.
By the way, Jana had a wonderful time.
Wonder about what good things might be happening.