Word-Of-the-Week #649: Anxious

January 12, 2017 by  

Anxious – uneasy and apprehensive about an uncertain event or matter; worried.

How would you rate your anxiety level? Does uncertainty trigger worry? Do you compare yourself/and or your life to your family, neighbors, or co-workers?

This week features part 1 of “Why are Americans so anxious?” by San Diego Union columnist Neil Senturia, I’m There for You, Baby.

“December 31, 2016, midnight – after one glass of very old scotch.

Tis the season to be jolly is gone. Thank goodness. The lingering question that always comes up at this time of year is – what the hell is happiness – and do I have it – and if I don’t, why not – and  do I even want it? (What else should someone consider as the ball is dropping and 103,000 crazies are in Times Square freezing their “fingers” off?)

And so we turn to a new book, “America the Anxious,” by Ruth Whippman.  Her theme is that we live in a “state of perpetual anxiety,” and that this is the new norm. (Oy! indeed – this is clearly good news for my shrink). Whippman quotes the World Health Organization whose data confirms that America is the most anxious country on the planet. (I will speculate that after the most recent election, we are probably off any chart they have ever used.)

Whippman, who is from England, discovered in her research that America is “culturally preoccupied with this idea of happiness, of finding happiness.” Like the game “Where’s Waldo” – do we really think we can “find” happiness? Are we on some treasure hunt looking for the big H behind the hedge?

She interviewed hundreds of people and found that we Americans “agonize about am I happy, am I as happy as my neighbor – why is he happier – and finally, could I be happier if I tried harder.”

At midnight, this is almost hilarious. The idea of trying to be happy strikes me as borderline insane. If we just take one more class or read one more book, then finally happiness will be ours.

A few years ago, one of my companies hired a woman who had a Ph.D. in happiness. I am being serious. She came down from Los Angeles (where else would you expect misery to flourish) to give us a three-hour class in happiness. At the end, we were all jumping up and down, waving our arms, singing and shouting.

A few days later, this woman calls me to tell me she is unhappy and would like some coaching from me on her career. You cannot make this stuff up.”

I LOVE his sense of humor! Stay tuned for part 2…and until then…the question is, “Do you agonize about finding happiness?”

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