I sat at my desk recently and stared at the headlines coming in on the CNN website. “Unemployment rate soars in third quarter”, “Healthcare Crisis Looms over US”, “Professional Athlete victim of Murder/Suicide” and it went on and on. As much as the news of the day was seriously starting to affect my mood, I just couldn’t turn away. As if I didn’t already have enough to worry about, now I had to add the national debt, unemployment rates and swine flu to my list of problems to solve.
I am by nature a worrier, a hand wringer, a “what if” kind of gal. It’s the one character flaw that literally drives me nuts. And my husband -poor guy- tries to be as patient as possible when I am having one of those moments. I could feel his patience wearing thin a few days ago when he calmly listened to me tell him why I thought the nagging pain in my leg had nothing to do with training for a half marathon but rather a blood clot that could travel to my lung and BOOM, kill me! He looked at me and said, “Before you keel over could you make sure the kids and I have something to eat tonight.”
You can imagine my relief to find out that I’m not the only person who makes a habit of losing sleep over problems that have absolutely no chance of happening or affect me in any way. Most of my close friends admitted to this little neurosis at one time or another. Who can help it? It seems you can’t turn on the television, computer or walk down the street without being inundated with all that’s wrong in the world. While the headlines change for CNN, its aftermath lingers in our households for days to come.
Not long ago I saw a special report on the benefits of a meat free diet. I thought my entire family would embrace it. Instead, my husband looked at me and said, “I know it’s better to eat this way but an animal has to die if I’m going to feel full after a meal.” There are other times he is happy I implement new practices. Like when I decided we should go on a “material diet” and not buy anything except groceries and gas for 30 days. He was all for it until I told him that no TV was part of the purge. And when the swine flu hit a few months ago I completely rid our household of anything pig related short of throwing out a bobble head of Porky Pig. That was the breaking point.
We decided from that point on to go on a different diet. Instead of going on strike against Porky Pig, checking the balance of our retirement account 20 times a day or having the national debt clock displayed as wallpaper on my PC, we would go on a news diet. And I will tell you honestly ours has been a much more relaxed household since. It’s not to say we don’t watch the news at all but we limit the negative and increase our exposure to all the positive tidbits that surround us. Because really what can I do about that national debt, the rapidly decreasing value of my IRA or worrying if I could get cancer? The answer is nothing. Instead I realized that worrying about what bad things might happen keeps me from enjoying all the good things that are happening right now.