The opportunity cost of anxiety

How much headspace is wasted on anxiety? Or, how much headspace do you give to something you read on twitter, or heard on a podcast, saw on Instagram, or read on this very site? For me, way too much.

Giving headspace to these anxieties is an opportunity cost. In a recent episode of Planet Money, Jacob Goldstein and Nick Fountain asked economists at a summit, “what’s the most useful idea in economics?”. Lisa Cook, a professor of economics at Michigan State, answered, “Opportunity cost.” That really made me think. She’s right. Goldstein and Fountain explain:

“Opportunity cost tells us the cost of doing any one thing is giving up doing anything else. So the cost of going to college is not just the tuition you have to pay. It’s all the wages you give up by not working or by working less because you’re in college…And in a more personal sense — you know, day-to-day life — opportunity cost means the cost of doing something at any given moment is not doing something else at that exact same moment. And literally at this moment, Lisa Cook is giving up the opportunity to do so many things.”

Giving headspace to your anxieties is doing it at the cost of so many things… keeping your head in the game, whatever that means for your situation. Thinking about other people besides yourself. Or even, just thinking of something funny to say.

Anxiety appears to be a form of narcissism in disguise. Today I feel like we have too much narcissism. It’s afforded to us more than ever before by having a higher than ever standard of living, and by the digital age; having tools to expose and be exposed to everyone’s thoughts and opinions.

…And we have to process it all.

As a result I want to make a conscious effort to give these things less headspace. I’m hoping I can form a healthy habit of devoting more headspace to positive things that benefit the work that I do and the people around me.

Written by

Dreamer and schemer, designer turned developer. Lover of music and fine ales.

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