Tag: appliances

Facing Worry

I’m a worrier, and it stresses me out. This is not new. Actually, I do better now than I used to.

And yet, I still worry far too much. In some ways, I feel like I took the scout motto to “Be Prepared” much too personally. I’m constantly peering into the shadows trying to anticipate which monster will come out next. Maybe I read too many mystery novels when I was young and impressionable.

It takes a lot of energy to try prevent all the bad things that could possibly happen at once. “Don’t talk to strangers. Or people you know. Or walk too close to cars. Or groups of kids. And look out for dogs. And powerlines…” The warnings I want to give my middle schooler before he walks a block to school in the morning are endless. Usually I manage to limit it to one or two. Sometimes I just drive him to school.

I unplug small appliances before I leave the house and worry about the larger appliances that are too big to unplug. Every time the phone rings, I worry it’s the school calling. Bee sting? Broken arm? The sky falling? They haven’t happened yet, but this could be that call.

Early in our marriage, my husband stopped our newspaper subscription. I was reading the paper cover to cover, and I can still, twenty years later, remember the details of some of the scary stories I read. “It’s stressing you out,” my husband said.

“I need to know what to watch out for,” I told him.

And yet, without the newspaper to warn me, we survived living in that city, and the other cities we lived in. Some bad things happened, but some great things did too. I didn’t miss the newspaper… okay, I did. But I didn’t miss my daily dose of fear.

The internet has tried to provide that with its newsfeeds and Facebook, but I try to be wise and only read a few stories here and there. It’s like a security blanket. If I can just predict the bad things, whatever they are, I can defend against them, right?

But I think that the worry can be a bad thing all on its own. There is a point where it ceases to be helpful, and starts taking too much energy, time and space. I’m tired of worrying.

I will probably never leave my toaster plugged in when I leave the house. I don’t think I will ever ride a rollercoaster without imagining that this is the time it will go off the tracks. That said, I am trying harder to worry less. But how do I worry less after all this time?

Science says that the best way to get rid of a bad habit is to replace it with a good habit. This article explains it well: https://www.inc.com/melody-wilding/psychology-says-this-is-how-you-change-a-bad-habit-for-good.html

So what is a good replacement for worry?

In an Ensign article in April 1986, Gordon B. Hinckley said: “I am asking that we stop seeking out the storms and enjoy more fully the sunlight.“

And later in the same article, “I have little doubt that many of us are troubled with fears concerning ourselves. We are in a period of stress across the world. There are occasionally hard days for each of us. Do not despair. Do not give up. Look for the sunlight through the clouds. Opportunities will eventually open to you. Do not let the prophets of gloom endanger your possibilities.”

Bad things do happen, but good things do too. Why not spend my energy preparing for the next big opportunity? Why not notice and recognize the good things that happen? I think it would be a better use of my time.

I’ve started keeping a gratitude journal. I try to get out and help other people. It really gives me a lot of perspective. Somehow, it’s easier to do hard things when I’m doing them for someone else. I am developing my talents and trying to share them.

I may always be a worrier. But, I hope that I can continue to improve. I want to stop seeking out storms and instead enjoy the sunlight. While wearing sunscreen. And a hat.

Do you worry a lot too? What are some things you do when you can tell that you’re starting to worry?

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The Little Red Robot

Once there was a little red robot who was in charge of coordinating the efforts of all the kitchen appliances. One day, the robot was checking the calendar and was thrilled to find a dinner party scheduled for that very day. This meant that there would be lots of work to do, but the robot liked work, so this made him very happy.

He stood in the center of the kitchen and displayed the calendar on his view screen. “There is a dinner party today,” he announced to the appliances. “There will be a lot of work to do. Who will help me?” No one replied.

The robot wasn’t concerned. It was up to him to break up an important job like this into smaller tasks, after all, so that each appliance knew which was its part. The robot looked around the kitchen as he thought through what needed to be done.

“There are dirty dishes in the sink. We can’t start cooking when there are dirty dishes. Dishwasher, will you wash the dishes?”

“Not today. I washed two loads yesterday, so I’m due a day off,” the dishwasher rumbled.

“Then I’ll do it myself,” said the little red robot. And he did. He only broke three plates, which didn’t seem too bad.

The dishwasher didn’t agree. “Three plates? They’re going to blame me for that. I’ll be sent away and replaced by a newer dishwasher.”

“But there are lots of plates,” the robot protested.

“That’s because I don’t break them! If I broke plates every time I washed dishes, then they’d be gone in two weeks or less.”

The little red robot had to admit that the dishwasher had a point. But there wasn’t time to discuss abstract philosophy. There was a dinner party to prepare for. The robot went through his mental list.

“Now it’s time to choose a menu. Cookbook database, can you choose a recipe that would be good for a dinner party?”

The cookbook beeped. “All our recipes are good. Make them all.”

“There isn’t time for that,” the little red robot said firmly. “I’ll choose one myself.” He entered a few random letters and picked the top entry. “Pickle relish…” he did another search, “…and steel cut oats.” The robot thought for a moment. “There should probably be some kind of protein. I’ll boil eggs. I don’t need a recipe for that.”

The cookbook blinked its red lights and beeped repeatedly. “Those aren’t dinner party foods. They don’t even go together. I’ll be completely replaced if they serve something like that at the party. Here, take this…” It printed out a few recipes and went blank.

“We will need ingredients, refrigerator…” he began

The refrigerator opened a door just wide enough to shove the necessary ingredients out. “Don’t come any closer,” it said. “I’m functioning perfectly well, and I’d like to stay that way.”

“Good point,” the oven said. “I’ll have no burnt dinners, thank you very much. Pass me the ingredients and step back.”

The robot turned around to find the cupboards and table busy with the place settings. The door was cycling through possible greeting protocols. The little robot was happy to see that he was doing a tremendous job coordinating the efforts of the kitchen appliances.

Unfortunately, he did so well that he worked himself out of a job. It had been kind of thrilling when he thought he could do all the work of the dinner party himself. And if a guest hadn’t shown up, maybe he could have done their job too. He imagined entertaining everyone with talk about the current weather reports and common health ailments.

Alas, it wasn’t too be. The guests all arrived, and the party went smoothly. The little red robot watched from the shadows, before leaving quietly. There was nothing more to do here. However, he had looked out the back window earlier, and the garden could maybe use a little work.

Was nobody coordinating the efforts of the garden tools? He checked the calendar. In the morning he slipped out the back door and hurried over to the garden shed. “There is a barbecue scheduled in two days. Barbecues are a type of cooking, so I am coordinating efforts so that it all goes well. Lawn mower, will you mow the lawn tomorrow at ten o’clock?”

“It’s too sunny today,” the lawn mower said. “I think I might be overheating.”

“Then I’ll cut the grass myself,” said the little red robot. And so it began.

Two days later, the lawn was slightly bald in places and a few of the rosebushes were over-trimmed, but the barbecue went well. The garden tools had learned to work together, and the little red robot had worked himself out of another job. He didn’t mind too much. There was a slumber party on the calendar, and the bedrooms weren’t as clean as they should be. There was work to do!

 

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