The Best Antidote to Worry

UPDATED: February 12, 2021
PUBLISHED: December 22, 2014

Negative noise is everywhere in our society, but it’s also inside our heads. Worry is the loudest internal noise, and as a new parent, I understand how easy it is to let it creep in. I need to remember that worry is not love, and that in fact giving up worry is the most loving thing I can do as a parent and in my work.

Besides emotionally hindering us, worry limits the quality and the quantity of life. Researchers from Harvard found that anxiety and fear destroy the proteins at the end of our chromosomes called telomeres, which dramatically speeds up the aging process. I want to be around a long time for my son, Leo, so I need to cancel the noise.

The best antidote to worry is its polar opposite: gratitude for the present. Worry asks, “What bad things could happen?” Gratitude asks, “What great things are actually happening?” Take two minutes to write down 10 things you feel positive about—your children, your values, your faith, your character. Then share them with your family or on Facebook. Researchers at the University of Chicago found that when people wrote about their positive feelings for a few minutes, they significantly lowered their levels of worry and harmful cortisol levels. And, incredibly, it raised their performance on tests of memory and critical skills by 10 to 15 percent.

By emitting positive energy and canceling out that internal noise, you can get back the signal that leads to meaning, success, sustained happiness, and even a longer, healthier life.

Check out 9 ways to say no to negativity.   

Shawn Achor is a Harvard-trained researcher and best-selling author of The Happiness Advantage and Before Happiness. Get a daily dose of happy at Shawn's Facebook page.