Thiel: If you’re alive, you’re worried

The human condition means it's most likely that you are worried about something.

Worry, fret, be concerned or anxious, agonize, lose sleep, vacillate, suffer or wrestle with something; This is the human condition. Like it or not, if you are alive it is most likely that you are worried about something. It seems to be a constant in our daily lives.

Oh, our distress can engage most anything; from our hairline to our finances, children, marriage, our gas mileage, mortgage, lawn or the way we think we look. It is indeed endless.

I am as guilty as this as anyone. One of my earliest childhood memories was that of my father (my Obi Wan) saying to me “Markus, you worry too much, cross that bridge when you get to it”. I thought he was nuts. If I can anticipate that bridge, I won’t have to cross it. To this date, it is amazing how few bridges I have had in my life. What is even more amazing is how much time I wasted looking for them.

This is important to me as a health care professional because I know the way worry or stress can affect our body and set up the stage for the manifestation of disease.

Have you ever met an old friend of yours, one you rather like, one you have not seen for a while and during our time together you feel tormented because while you are talking you are anxious the fact that your parking meter has expired. It robs you of the experience you could have had. Insert more worry.

Plainly put, worry is a wasted emotion. It affects you physiologically and emotionally (not that the two are to be separated). In a state of worry, we are not living in the present or the now, we are living in the future…more concerned about the ‘might be’ rather than the ‘is’.

I believe that there is no such thing as the future, nor the past. There is, and always is only the present. Great things were never done in the past or the future. They were all done in the present.

Ok. Let’s get rid of the airy-fairy metaphysical stuff and look at science. I know this guy, not me but a friend of mine. He is always worried about stuff. The worry is noted by my, I mean, my friend’s adrenal glands. That gland secrete a hormone called cortisol. In small measures, this hormone is important. It helps to make other important hormones. If however, this individual is under chronic stress and worry, the cortisol will hurt them.

Higher and more prolonged levels of cortisol in the bloodstream (like those associated with chronic stress) have been shown to have negative effects, such as: impaired cognitive performance, suppressed thyroid function, blood sugar imbalances such as hyperglycemia, decreased bone density, decrease in muscle tissue, higher blood pressure, lowered immunity and inflammatory responses in the body, as well as other health consequences like increased abdominal fat, weight gain and sleep deprivation.

Cortisol is the result of sustained worry. It literally robs you of your life force. Have you seen the face of someone who always worries? Compare that face to that of one who does not. And no, Botox will no reduce the amount that you worry; only you can.

My best advice is to live in the present, plan for the best, expect only the best and do like my children used to do: you can have a load of doody in your diapers but they didn’t  have a worry in the world because they knows things will be fine. Simply put, worry is a wasted emotion. Bad things will happen, that’s a fact of life. Waiting for them to happen is death. Luckily we can choose.

 

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