Don’t Worry, Be Happy: A Sensible Approach to Fear of Flying?


Barajas Terminal 4 Iberia Airlines

On the ground as much as in the air, it is a fact that merely worrying about the future will never change anything. This is not to say we shouldn’t make sensible plans for the future when by weighing the positives and negatives we could have some effect on outcomes – here we’re talking about the kind of worry over an upcoming event that immobilises us. To some extent it’s a natural human reaction, but we have to tell ourselves that this type of fretting will not help the situation in the slightest – in fact, it will hamper us by making us less efficient both in the here and now and when that future situation finally comes around. So if you’re really worried about something, and that something is an upcoming airplane flight, don’t let that fear of flying paralyse you.

Think about it: being preoccupied with a situation we cannot change brings no positive benefits but instead merely raises our stress level. It’s a little like someone who is depressed when it rains; that feeling usually isn’t so much because of precipitation but because he or she is talking himself into negative thoughts over an unchangeable situation, creating self-generated negativity and stress.

This doesn’t mean that person should necessarily talk himself or herself into enjoying the rain instead, but rather simply to ask, “Why am I choosing depression? Does this let me deal with the rain in a more effective way?” Many times we ourselves are responsible for our own feelings, and by deciding to approach things in a different way we can learn to see things differently. That starts by asking ourselves if it’s really worth it, if it’s truly so rewarding to make ourselves feel unhappy or depressed over an external situation that is so commonplace and has positive effects as well (rain, for example, makes things grow and air travel more often than not gets us to places that will enrich us in some way). We then need to carefully examine the kinds of thoughts that are promoting those feelings of weakness, which only serve to paralyse us and prevent us from enjoying and taking full advantage of the present.

In conclusion, it’s not so much a matter of “don’t worry, be happy,” but rather, that life is too short to waste a moment of it unnecessarily worrying.

image | Alon