Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

A wise friend once explained why I shouldn't worry.

"It's just prediction," she said. "And how good is anyone at that?"

Naturally, she's a life coach. Naturally, her perfect rationality didn't stop my worrying.

Still, have you ever relaxed, stared at a beautiful landscape, and asked yourself how many of your worries actually came true?

Perhaps it's time you should. Hey, we're all defined by data these days.

I'm here, though, to help you progress from worrier to slightly more balanced worrier. 

You see, I've just bathed in an extraordinary study with a quite pulsating title: "Exposing Worry's Deceit: Percentage of Untrue Worries in Generalized Anxiety Disorder Treatment."

When science promises to expose something, I'm rapt.

In this case, Penn State researchers Lucas LaFreniere and Michelle Newman thought they'd look at 29 people with generalized anxiety disorder and see, over a period of time, how many of their worries came true.

In a 10-day period, these intrepid 29 wrote down their worries, reviewed them every night, and noted how severe these worries were. 

Twenty days later, they were asked how many of them had come true.

The researchers offered this bold -- and, some might find, mildly astonishing -- conclusion: 

Primary results revealed that 91.4 percent of worry predictions did not come true.

There you have it. Only 8.6 percent of the things you worry about will come true. Maybe.

The researchers went further: 

Higher percentages of untrue worries significantly predicted lower GAD [general anxiety disorder] symptoms after treatment, as well as a greater slope of symptom reduction from pre- to post-trial.

The notion here is that cognitive behavioral therapy helps worriers gain a better perspective on their actual realities.

Indeed, the researchers insist that their researchees had highly inflated notions of how many of their worries would come true.

One sentence from their research might cause habitual worriers to write it down and frame it: 

The most common percentage of untrue worries per person was 100 percent.

Of course this is a small study, albeit with potentially large conclusions.

And everyone who has ever tried to help someone else with their problems knows that rationality isn't often the most effective remedy for a severe emotional state.

Lordy, I think I've ignored more sensible, rational advice than I've had pieces of chocolate. 

And I really like chocolate.

Gaining perspective is harder than talking sense to someone of the opposite political persuasion.

But we have to try.

Because letting worries win is like letting pollsters decide elections.

Published on: Aug 7, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.