Is There Value in Worry in the Retirement Years?

Even though we may know better, worry can still be a challenge in life after 60. Concerns about children and other members often upset the tranquil retirement lifestyle.

Ten days before Hurricane Isaac attacked the Gulf coast, my New Orleans daughter got caught in a flash flood which washed over and through her car. Gratefully, she was able to get out of her car unharmed. The car on the other hand was not thrilled with the shower and was in need of major repairs-after it thoroughly dried out in the 90% humidity of Southern Louisiana.

Fast forward to the weekend before the approaching hurricane when my daughter realized there was no escape. This girl from Southern California was going to have to ride out her first hurricane. There wasn’t anyway she could escape.

One thousand miles away, her mom, me, was having to wait without being able to do anything to help her. To say that I worried was an understatement. As a student of psychology for over forty years, I understand that worry is a useless emotional exercise. It couldn’t do anything to help her and it didn’t do me much good either.

There is anther side to worry. While there can be a helpless, wringing of the hands type of worry, it is also a call to action. In spite of the fact that I couldn’t actually rescue my daughter, I was able to help her create different plans of action depending on various scenarios. Worry helped us think creatively to make sure nothing bad happened to her.

While the psychological gurus warn us about the potential harm worry can do, there is value if it moves you to action. While I’ll be the first to admit, when it comes to my children, I let worry get the best of me sometimes. But, using worry as a wake up call can be of value.


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