It’s a simple fact: nobody likes to feel anxious. Anxiety is among the most pervasive and reviled of human emotions. And since it’s unhealthy, we all agree, we should avoid it like any other illness. An entire economy has sprung up to aid us in our efforts: from self-help books and holistic remedies to pharmaceuticals and cutting-edge talk therapy. And yet we remain a profoundly anxious society— rates are soaring, in fact. Leading us to another simple fact: all this
What if that’s because we have it backward? What if feeling badly is the key to feeling good?
In Future Tense,
I argue that this pervasive anxiety-as-disease story is false—and it’s harming us. Far from a sickness or malfunction, anxiety is an advantageous emotion that evolved to protect us and strengthen our creative and productive powers. Although it’s related to stress and fear, it’s uniquely valuable—allowing us to imagine the uncertain future and impelling us to make that future better. That’s why anxiety is inextricably linked to hope.
I distill the latest research in psychology and neuroscience, including my own, and offer real-world stories and personal narrative to show how we can acknowledge the discomfort of anxiety and see it as a tool, rather than an impediment. Detailing the terrible cost of our misunderstanding of anxiety while celebrating the lives of people who harness it to their advantage, I argue that we can—and must—learn to be anxious in the right way.
Anxiety and anxiety disorders are not the same thing. But, when anxiety is viewed through this prism of advantage, even anxiety disorders can be alleviated. Achieving a new mindset will not eliminate anxiety—because the emotion of anxiety is not broken; the way we cope with it is.
By challenging our long-held assumptions, Future Tense
provides a concrete framework for how to reclaim anxiety for what it has always been: a source of inner strength and ingenuity.
Read more about Future Tense in this article in the Guardian