Here’s a little song I wrote
You might want to sing it note for note
Don’t worry, be happy
In every life we have some trouble
But when you worry, you make it double
Don’t worry, be happy
Don’t worry, be happy now
Nearly 30-years ago, Bobby McFerrin released his hit song Don’t Worry Be Happy.
This song came out following the Black Monday[i] crash October 19, 1987, in which the US stock market lost almost 23% of its value in one day – closing at 1,738.74 The song was a needed counterpoint to anxious thoughts about the economy and a lingering cold-war with Russia.
Today we Americans are still worrying about the economy among other things.
According to a 2015 Gallup poll[ii] these are the top things we in the U.S. worry about as expressed as a percentage of respondents:
- The availability and affordability of healthcare – 54%
- The economy – 53%
- The possibility of future terrorist attacks in the U.S. – 51%
- The Social Security System – 46%
- The size and power of the federal government – 46%
- The way income and wealth are distributed in the U.S. – 46%
- Hunger and Homelessness – 43%
The good news is that it appears as though our economic worries are improving, considering that in 2014, 59% of the respondents were worried about the economy. Still over 50% of us are worried about financial matters.
Why do we worry?
Our tendency to worry seems to be hardwired into our brains. Negative news has more importance to our brain and this negativity bias has served us well in our evolution. For example our negativity bias allows us to view an approaching tiger with more weight than say smelling the flowers as the big cat prepares to eat us. But this bias may not serve us best in today’s world.
For if we are not careful to re-center ourselves we may become caught in a cycle of worry and anxiety.
Fortunately there are many reminders out there to help us reframe our focus and our corresponding life experience. Just last year Pharrell Williams reminded us in his hit song Happy:
Here come bad news talking this and that, yeah,
Well, give me all you got, and don’t hold it back, yeah,
Well, I should probably warn you I’ll be just fine, yeah,
No offense to you, don’t waste your time
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Before recorded songs, spiritual sages offered wisdom on the futility of worrying.
A Buddhist proverb offers an extremely useful perspective —
“If you have a problem that can be fixed, then there is no use in worrying. If you have a problem that cannot be fixed, then there is no use in worrying.”
Regardless of whether something can be fixed or not, there is no need to worry.
Jesus offered the following:
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[?
Matthew 6:25-27 NIV
It is incredibly liberating to trust in God and allow things to unfold. Do your best and let God do the rest. I’ll admit it was hard for me to get to that point though.
My worry and anxiety seemed to have peaked about 10-years ago after which I hit rock bottom. The expression “Let Go, Let God” eventually became my mantra and helped me through a rather dark period in my life. During this time, I had become a nervous wreck. I had to change jobs as part of a corporate re-structuring, I had major medical bills to contend with, and my marriage was falling apart – ultimately setting me up for support payments and losing ½ of my wealth.
Change is a part of life and can be quite volatile. While we can’t control external events we can take steps to manage how we respond to them.
Tomorrow will have its own things to deal with. So let’s focus on what we can do now, letting go, and letting God take care of the rest.
Since money has been the source of concern for so many, myself included let’s now compare the stock market today to back them. As of July 7, 2015 the US market closed to end at 17,759.01. A 921% increase from the Black Monday of 1987.
Daily volatility is part of long-term appreciation.
Meanwhile life gives us compounded opportunities if we open ourselves.
Worry and anxiety only distract us – wasting energy that could be used in solving problems or creating new art.
Wishing you many happy returns.
[i] Black Monday: The Stock Market Crash of 1987 – A Detailed Essay on an Important Event in the History of the Federal Reserve.” Black Monday: The Stock Market Crash of 1987 – A Detailed Essay on an Important Event in the History of the Federal Reserve. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 July 2015.
[ii] “In U.S., Worries About Terrorism, Race Relations Up Sharply.” Gallup.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 July 2015.