The New York Times:
I’m a worrier. Deadlines, my children, all the time they spend online — you name it, it’s on my list of worries. I even worry when I’m not worried. What am I forgetting to worry about?
Turns out I’m not alone. Two out of five Americans say they worry every day, according to a new white paper released by Liberty Mutual Insurance. Among the findings in the “Worry Less Report”: Millennials worry about money. Single people worry about housing (and money). Women generally worry more than men do and often about interpersonal relationships. The good news: Everyone worries less as they get older.
When the researchers analyzed the results, they determined that about 20 percent of the worries were about anticipating a negative outcome in the future. But nearly half of all the documented worries reflected a process of problem solving. While that can be constructive, people who worried a lot and couldn’t control their worrying were less likely to find a solution to their problem. The researchers, Marianna Szabo, now at the University of Sydney, and Peter F. Lovibond of the University of New South Wales in Australia, concluded that failing to come up with solutions may actually lead to more pathological worrying.
In 2007, the same researchers tried to correlate aspects of worrying with specific components of problem solving, like defining the problem, gathering information, generating solutions, evaluating and choosing a solution. Once again, they concluded about half the cognitive content of the worry episodes included attempts to solve a problem. Once people devise a solution, they quit worrying one-third of the time. But people found it hard to stop worrying if they weren’t satisfied with the solution they came up with.
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