Friday, February 26, 2010

Happiness in Hard Times

My mother forwarded me a link to an excellent article on finding happiness through adaptability in hard times.  It's a great read.

What jumped out at me with that "I must explore this further" spark was this:

"She has clients distinguish productive worries (which spark action) from destructive ones (which trigger an endless loop of catastrophic thinking)."

I have a friend who's favorite phrase is "Worry is just an invitation to trouble".  He's talking about the destructive type of worry, of course.  The endless loop of catastrophic thinking not only distracts you from enjoyment of the present, but can actually be self-fulfilling.   People tend to return attitudes, in that they avoid lonely people, are hostile towards angry people, but seek out the company of the happy.  Worrying constantly about being alone can invite that situation to continue. 

The productive type of worry is something I've never thought about in such terms.  I'm used to considering all "worry" to be destructive or stressful, but the worry about my job is motivating me to take classes and/or certifications to make me more employable.  It's also motivating me to take on extra tasks at work (like offering computer training to my co-workers) to become more valuable to my current employer and expand my resume. 

The problem itself (employment uncertainty) could spark either type of worry, of course. I could spend all my time obsessing over scenarios of bankruptcy and fall into that destructive loop.  Wait,  I sometimes do that anyway!  No worry is entirely one or the other, just as no problem worth worrying over is ever simple. 

So, as Pollyanna as it sounds, whether a worry is destructive or constructive really is up to you.  It may take work and vigilance to turn a destructive loop into constructive action, but it's possible.   


Ashley said...

Very inspiring! Thanks for this post!

delbelcoure said...

Your post is so timely. I read this article yesterday
It discusses what it looks like when you're channeling self-doubts into something constructive or when these doubts are harming you. It looks to be a good example of "productive worries (which spark action) from destructive ones (which trigger an endless loop of catastrophic thinking)" from the article you are referencing. Thanks for the great link!

Anonymous said...

Worry usually doesn't do anything productive. Even if the worse case scenario occurs, it is usually an other catastrophe we didn't expect.

When I was younger I always worried about my mother the smoker dying a long and painful death from lung cancer. She eventually quit or cut down. Then, a few years ago, she died instantly of a massive stoke. No one saw it coming as she was so active. You never really know. I am grateful that she didn't suffer and that I didn't have to see it happen.