Sign up FAST! Login

Worrying is an enormous waste of your precious and limited lifetime.

Stashed in: Regret, Quora!, Awesome, Meaning of Life, Worrying is like a rocking chair., Cognitive Bias, Personal Finance, Stress, Cognitive Bias

To save this post, select a stash from drop-down menu or type in a new one:

Worrying is suffering twice.

"In our research at Cornell University, I asked hundreds of the oldest Americans that question. I had expected big-ticket items: an affair, a shady business deal, addictions — that kind of thing. I was therefore unprepared for the answer they often gave:

"I wish I hadn't spent so much of my life worrying."

Over and over, as the 1,200 elders in our Cornell Legacy Project reflected on their lives, I heard versions of 'I would have spent less time worrying' and 'I regret that I worried so much about everything.' Indeed, from the vantage point of late life, many people felt that if given a single 'do-over' in life, they would like to have all the time back they spent fretting anxiously about the future.

"Their advice on this issue is devastatingly simple and direct: Worry is an enormous waste of your precious and limited lifetime. They suggested training yourself to reduce or eliminate worrying as the single most positive step you can make toward greater happiness."

The elders' message is also consistent with research findings. The key characteristic of worry, according to scientists who study it, is that it takes place in the absence of actual stressors; that is, we worry when there is actually nothing concrete to worry about. This kind of worry ruminating about possible bad things that may happen to us or our loved ones — is entirely different from concrete problem solving. 

"A critically important strategy for regret reduction, according to the elders we interviewed, is increasing the time spent on concrete problem solving and drastically eliminating time spent worrying. One activity enhances life, whereas down the road the other is deeply regretted as a waste of our all-too-short time on Earth." —Karl Pillemer

Worrying is suffering in advance.

Quora user Bradley Voytek points to a national survey about the regrets of a typical American, which found 13 common sources for regret. They are, in order: romancefamilyeducationcareerfinanceparentinghealth, "other," friendsspiritualitycommunityleisure, and self.

Here are some of the most common regrets as chronicled by Quora users.

You May Also Like: