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Are you worried? You should be. According to the latest research, you should be worried about approximately 692,398 things, including worrying about columnists spouting false statistics.

First there’s H1N1, though I much prefer calling it swine flu. Swine flu makes me think of germs and sneezing. H1N1 makes me think of a science fiction mutant virus. Much scarier.

Recently I was also rendered paranoid by several episodes of the highly entertaining British show How Clean is Your House, where they analyze all the bacteria that is lurking throughout your abode and conclude that you are within a few hours of certain death. Families who are supposed to have bacteria counts of 50 have counts of 19,376. It’s great fun to laugh at people who live like pigs, but it’s made me a tad neurotic. I’ve taken to carrying hand sanitizer in my purse. I’m teaching the kids to sanitize the doorknobs, light switches, and bathroom handles. And I was once a big believer in “eating a little dirt never hurt anyone”. What is happening to me?

Then there’s pop. I forsook Pepsi a few years ago because I was worried about all that extra sugar. One hits 30, and one’s metabolism slows. At 35 it begins to sputter. I’m almost hitting the age when it begins crawling backwards. So I did the thing that weight loss programs recommended—I switched to Diet Pepsi! None of that fruit juice or pop for me. The only problem is that I have now learned that Diet Pepsi leads to osteoperosis, and my doctor cousin tells me they think it’s linked to brain diseases, too. I’m destined to be an old person who laments about being Sudoku-challenged while I’m holed up in bed with broken bones. But at least I’ll have my caffeine.

Of course it’s also imperative that we worry about all the toxins in our environment. We must buy filters on everything to give us clean air and clean water. We must banish smokers at least a kilometer and a half away from any living thing. And while we’re at it, we should really get rid of all preservatives and additives in our food, too.

Apparently global warming should also worry us to death, so much so that our media betters believe we should stop most industry and all that infernal driving. And since we know India and China aren’t going to stop anything, it’s time to admit we’re doomed. Even if it is getting colder.

Whenever you watch the news there’s something more to worry about. Last week many millions of us were glued to our televisions sets worried about a little 6-year-old boy floating around Colorado. He had apparently crawled into the basket of this huge inflatable balloon that his father just happened to keep in his backyard, become untethered, and floated off who-knows-where. As helicopters recorded and news vans rushed to the scene, the balloon crashed with nary a child in sight. Then, a few hours later, out pops the little tyke, safe and sound. While we were, of course, relieved that he had not met an untimely demise, I’m sure many viewers also felt a little ripped off. We were waiting for a tragedy, and it all came to nothing.

It’s a good metaphor for what’s happening in our society. As much as we worry, we actually live longer, healthier, more active lives than our ancestors did. We’re less prone to death from disease, infection, or accident than at any other point in human history.

Sure there are tons of things to worry about, if you want to. But if you want my advice, I’d turn off the news and go eat some chocolate. It can’t hurt, can it?

Sheila is the author of four books, including To Love, Honor and Vacuum: When you feel more like a maid than a wi.... She blogs daily at To Love, Honor and Vacuum, and hosts the "Use Your Words" CWA Radio show for Christian Writers and Speakers!

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