A lot of our anxiety comes from what we imagine the future to be like, and how we tend to fill in the worst possible scenarios and seem to not imagine positive alternatives. I have noticed since returning to Ireland that a lot of media time is taken up by discussions of possible disasters and downturns which may soon befall the country, particularly in the economic realm. Since, as the Roman poet Terence reminded us, there are as many opinions as there are people, this speculation only succeeds in maintaining a sense of anxious rumination, without always having any solid base. It can often be the same in our personal stories, and therefore a good remedy can be simply to recognize our mental chatter for what it is and practice staying in the present.
Just as we tend to treat the details of future events that we do imagine as though they were actually going to happen, we have an equally troubling tendency to treat the details of future events that we don’t imagine as though they were not going to happen. In other words, we fail to consider how much imagination fills in, but we also fail to consider how much it leaves out.
Dan Gilbert, Stumbling on Happiness
picture: “The Future Man” by Paul Klee