A few days ago I received an anonymous phone call warning me that my car’s (make and model not mentioned) warranty was about to expire and that I needed to “act now” or lose my coverage. I have also received calls from my “bank” regarding unnamed credit cards and other calls supposedly from the IRS and Social Security. We have all received bothersome phone calls such as these – they are obviously spurious and should be completely disregarded without thought… yet many people allow themselves to be misled by these “cellphone swindlers.”
People are tricked by fraudulent claims because our minds overreact to threats. Research reveals that we are far more likely to consider “worst case scenarios” rather than “best cases.” When we sense threat (no matter how absurd) our minds immediately race ahead of logic and dive into the deep end of the “worst case” pool. There are many things we can decide to worry about: our health, our appearance, our jobs, our family, etc. – and each time we tend toward fearing the worst possible outcome. Curiously, the “worst case” rarely comes to pass. Further research tells us that the “worst case” actually occurs only 4 percent of the time – in other words, 96 percent of the time our excessive worry is unwarranted.
What would happen if we began to assume “best cases” more often than the worst? We would likely become less risk averse, take a few more chances, and discover a gratifying, less fearful life. Being optimistic about our future is not a call for recklessness but an appeal to trust in God and the best nature of those around us. We should not let fear blind us to the virtues, ideals, and kindness that surrounds us. Wherever there is threat, there is also heroism.
Jesus plainly said, “Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you put on.” This is a clear call to put aside needless, unproductive, and personally draining fear. Although the occasional anonymous phone call may need to be ignored, we can be certain that best cases will happen the more often we believe in them.