More to Worry About

2012-11-19 – Oy! Science has now given us something new to worry about. It seems that worrying can extend your life. So apparently my retirement plan is even more deficient than I thought!

According to a study being conducted at the University of Rochester, being neurotic reduces the level of interleukin-6, which is a marker for inflammation in your body. High levels of inflammation are linked to heart disease, stroke, asthma, arthritis, diabetes, and some cancers.

This is an unexpected result. You’d have thought that worry would increase your level of inflammation and bring you to a long and painful death. But apparently, worrying has the opposite effect. This is especially true if you are – from your lips to God’s ears – extra conscientious.

So, if you’ve been putting money diligently away in your IRA to cover a short retirement, you may not have enough. For sure, you won’t have enough to put your grandchildren through college. And – chas v’shalom – you’re going to be a burden on your children!

Conscientiousness emerges from a person’s prefrontal cortex, a region of the brain I talked about in yesterday’s post. Another function of the prefrontal cortex, apparently, is abstract thinking. Recent analysis of photos of Albert Einstein’s brain indicate that he had unusually complex patterns of convolutions in his prefrontal cortex. The study suggests that this pattern may have contributed to his genius in physics.

I don’t know anything about brain science. So let me ask the question: was it genius that was contained in Einstein’s prefrontal convolutions? Or was it worry? What else but worry would account for Einstein’s ideas that time itself is malleable or that space is curved?

Maybe it’s not abstract thought that leads to great developments in science. Maybe it’s worry.

So, if you haven’t made a major discovery in your life, you might want to consider whether you’ve been worrying enough. If you up your worrying, could you be another Einstein?

You should live so long.

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