What’s joyful about worry, anxiety and stress?

Day 8. #pilgrimagetojoy

Worry is a way for your brain to handle problems in order to keep you safe…It’s only when we get stuck thinking about a problem that worry stops being functional.”

Dr. Luana Marques, Associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School; President of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

I read a wonderful article this morning from the New York Times distinguishing the differences between worry, stress and anxiety. Of course I was immediately drawn to it because I worry, I stress and I get anxious–about work, my family, the state of the world around us. In many ways, one could ask, what is there not to be worried, stressed or anxious about?

But all of these impact my ability to feel joy. In fact, like powerful and persistent clouds of smoke, they billow and pulse as they darken my soul. So where is the joy in all of this? This article reminded me that there is actual use in worry, anxiety and stress, and that gives my joy. “In small doses, worry, stress and anxiety can be positive forces in our lives.” They can help lead to change, create new thoughts, even reveal new directions. We only need to shift the temptation to be paralyzed by worry to leveraging our stress and anxiety for good. The article suggests, budgeting you worry time- consciously limit the time you allow yourself to worry. Joy is rooted in intentionality.

Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life[b]?

Luke 12:22-25