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What, me worry?

A couple of dudes — statisticians, actually — got sick and tired of hearing people worrying about one thing or another and decided to look deeper into the matter. What do people commonly worry about? Are all they worry about worth worrying about? The dudes called their study “panicology,” a dead giveaway to what worrying generally brings: panic and anxiety. (Like what many now experience as they contemplate the senators’ latest funny antic—installing Tito “Eat Bulaga” Sotto as Senate president replacing Koko Pimentel. Tch.)

Humans are worrying creatures. They worry about almost everything, from simple matters like “Would my new haircut be a hit with the girls or be the object of giggles?” to really cerebral issues like “What if the Prez decides to hock to China not just those islets in the West Philippine Sea but the whole of beautiful Palawan?”

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Of course you would say that’s too far-fetched an eventuality to worry about. But that’s exactly my point. People are so enamored of worrying that they worry even about things they know will never happen in their lifetime. For example:

During the campaign, the Prez declared: Get me a jet ski, I’ll cut the waves to the Spratlys and confront those (expletives) illegally claiming our islands. We all know that’s all PR acoustics — no way will he be able to do it. First, no one would lend him a jet ski; he’s liable to lose it to the waters. Second, he does not know a thing about jet-skiing; he’ll likely go no more than 10 yards from the shore and tumble. Yet despite the high improbability of him jet-skiing to anywhere, his declaration of a dubiously doable intent caused many to worry. About what? Worry that in a sudden impetuosity he may actually try to do it — and get sued or quo-warrantoed for giving jet-skiing a bad name.

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There are many inducements that impel worrying. The most common of late is worrying that fulfillment of an object of desire might not happen, and, conversely, worrying that losing an object of desire already nearly in your hand might happen. To illustrate: Let’s say the rumor that Jose Calida is eyeing a seat in the Supreme Court is not just a rumor but a fact. We must assume he must be tossing in his bed endlessly, worrying that the object of his dream might not happen. Conversely, let us imagine that the appointment of Larry Gadon as new ombudsman is just awaiting official announcement. We can also imagine him wearing the soles of his chinelas thin, pacing the floor in his bedroom and worrying that something unexpected would abort the already-in-the-bag appointment.

Is there a cure to worrying? I doubt it. American pseudopsychologists, the most successful of the world’s snake oil salesmen, come out every other year with books prescribing ways and methods to deal with worrying.  Dale Carnegie, the original PR retainer-fee tactician, authored “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.” Maybe the book is the real thing: He did stop worrying where he’d get the money for the mortgage of his house because his book sold in the millions.

Like I said, there are worriers worrying about a gamut of things from the absurd to the zany. One of them, my dear friend Kee Bin, is a Chicano (Chinese-Ilocano) originally from up North but now a well loved and respected leader of a gated village in Quezon City. Kee Bin, like me, is a crazy lotto fan and he worries how he’d allocate his windfall when he hits the jackpot.

“Shouldn’t you worry first whether luck would smile at you before you worry which way you’d parcel out the loot? That’s the logical sequence,” I point out.

“Nah, that’s a waste of brain cells—worrying if you’ll get what you want,” Kee Bin says. “That’s negative thinking. The winning strategy is: Think positive. Assume that you’ll get what you’re aiming for.”

I’m afraid my friend has been completely convinced by another American snake oil salesman, the author of a book that also sold in the millions: “The Power of Positive Thinking.”

I decide not to argue and propose instead that we go to Quiapo and consult one of those manghuhula that practice their craft outside the church walls. The proposed question: Is the American formula the surest way we’ll get the best results from our worrying?

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Very exciting object of research, right? When are we going?

We are not going, Kee Bin says after initially agreeing to my idea. He is seized as usual by a worry: that the Chief Justice’s quo warranto ouster would ignite street rallies and we’d be caught in traffic.

* * *

Mart del Rosario ([email protected]) is a retired advertising-PR consultant.

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TAGS: Anxiety, Inquirer Commentary. Mart del Rosario, Panic, positive thinking, Rodrigo Duterte, Worrying
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