Not losing your head (sometimes)

Despite my superstitious nature, I’m not sure how much faith I can place in everything happening for a reason.

Kate Nelson

I am not what you would call “laid back.” Don’t get me wrong, I can handle a camping trip or letting someone else take the reins and make plans.

Of course, I will have lists upon lists to make sure we bring everything we could possibly need when heading to the backwoods, and I will be wondering and worrying if the party planner is doing just that.

Despite my superstitious nature (my obsession with unicorns as a little one has influenced my beliefs in other areas), I’m not sure how much faith I can place in everything happening for a reason. Sure, things seem to work themselves out for the most part, but I’ve always been wary that the one time I assume things will come together, the superstition gods will be busy with something else.

I can’t seem to kick my worrying habit, and it’s at its worst right now. I’m not sure where I’ll be working in three months. I’m not sure where I’ll be living in three months. I sure hope I’ll have something to eat in three months. (You get the idea.)

My roommate and I took macroeconomics together our freshman year. We hated it, hated the teacher and skipped most of the lectures.

I did, however, walk away with some knowledge I’ve been able to apply to real-world situations. I can’t recall if this theory has a particular name or if it is actually a theory, but it goes a little something like this: People are more likely to spend money if they are already spending money.

So, for example, if Ma and Pa Kettle are picking up a sweet new plasma TV and it’s just $50 more for insurance, they’re likely to go for it and write off that expense, claiming, “We’re already spending the retirement fund, so what’s another measly 50 bucks?” Well it’s just that – 50 bucks.

Now I’ve tried explaining this to help calm others’ frustrations. As in, “So, this situation sucks. But if you can look at what has already happened (getting a ticket, having something stolen) as a specific quantity, do you really want to add to that amount by being upset about it?”

Of course it’s much more clearly articulated and involves a lot of hand gestures when it’s not on paper, and, perhaps surprisingly, sometimes it works. It’s not necessarily a convincing argument but instead a good distraction that seems to make sense during a time of crisis.

So I’ve tried applying that same theory to my current situation. If the unknowns are worth five, do I really want to add another three to that by worrying – especially about things over which I have little or no control?

Well, like I said, it’s not a very convincing argument. It distracts me for a while, until I remember there’s something ominous looming overhead about which I should be worried.

My point, dear readers, is this: I’m not sure how to combat my fears about the future, simply put. But if you’re like me and have worrywart tendencies, at least now you have a surefire way to distract yourself, well, 40 percent of the time.

Kate Nelson welcomes comments at [email protected]