Many years ago, I read a statistic stating that something like 98 percent of the things we fear never actually happen.
I believe the point of the study was that we shouldn't fear so many silly things. The chances are so slim that we'll be in a plane crash, or hit by a bus, or mauled by a bear that we just shouldn't sweat it.
I, however, took a completely different slant when I read the results of that study. I took it to mean that if I worry about every possible negative scenario - lying awake at night scrutinizing the possibilities and the outcomes - the odds that those bad things will happen are reduced exponentially.
So I face every situation in my life with a twinge of fear, a heaping helping of paranoia. Every time I drive, every time I step outside, every time I do something that could lead to trouble, my mind races with the danger that could be lurking around the bend. I start thinking about what I would do if X, Y and Z all happen at once and my life were turned upside-down - how would I react, to whom would I turn?
Ninety-eight percent of the time (give or take a percentage point), I never have to enact my escape plan. The situation comes and goes without incident, and I am safe to face the next challenge in life.
Call it a superstition if you'd like. But my ''plan-for-the-worst'' mentality has proven the rule - my fears almost never come true.
Sure, there have been rough times. The best-laid plans have blown up in my face a time or two, my fears have come to fruition and I've needed to pick up the pieces. All the doomsday preparation in the world couldn't have readied me. But there are no 100-percent fail-safes out there, are there? If there were, we'd all be way too happy. And a story without at least a little conflict isn't worth telling.
When you're fearing for the worst, though, any positive outcome is a net gain. I wish I'd saved the article from so many years back that gave me that mantra, because I'd love to give its author credit.
My life isn't great by any means. I could be a lot better person in any number of ways. But my life has turned out a great deal better than I feared it could have, and that's an achievement in its own right.