Dear Rachel,

I’m a worrier. I’m very anxious about all the terrible things that can happen. We live in such a dangerous world, and so many people are suffering. I’m always terrified that some calamity is going to befall me or those whom I love, G‑d forbid. I take every precaution I can, I pray, but I’m always nervous and tense. I always have the worst-case scenario in my head. Please help. This is a terrible way to live my life.

“Worst Case” Scenario

Dear “Best Case” Scenario,

Mark Twain famously said, “I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.” We spend so much time worrying about what can happen that we don’t actually enjoy life.

And you’re right—it’s a terrible way to live. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Fear and worry are a choice. You’re right that we have so little control over the events of our lives, and there are many dangers out there. But the one thing we do have in our control is how we view the world. Is it dangerous, or full of opportunity? Are we safe, or is danger lurking right around every corner? Do things befall us, or is everything part of a divine plan?

The story is told of a chassid who asked his rebbe, the Maggid of Mezeritch, “The Talmud tells us how to make a blessing over the bad things that happen as we do for the good ones. How is that possible?” The Maggid told him to go ask Reb Zushe of Anipoli, a holy but very poor man. He lived in a small, dilapidated house with his family. He was thin and sickly, and lived hand to mouth. When the chassid came to Reb Zushe with his question, Reb Zushe stood there in his cold house, in his threadbare clothes, and said, “I don’t know why the Maggid would send you to me. I’ve never known any misfortune in my life.”

Reb Zushe understood that there is no bad. Everything in life comes from G‑d, and G‑d is all good. And even though we may not understand it at the time, everything G‑d does is good. I know that’s a hard concept to grasp. There is a lot of tragedy and suffering in the world. But faith in G‑d is the No. 1 tool to deal with your fears.

With that in mind, here are a few tips to help you worry a bit less:

1. Don’t read the news. We are constantly inundated with bad news—in the paper, on the Internet, on social media. It’s no wonder many of us are nervous wrecks. Reading the headlines once a day to know what’s going on is more than enough, if that.

2. Get enough sleep.

3. Eat healthfully and cut down on caffeine, which is a big stress inducer.

4. Pray. But pray less like you’re talking to a police officer who you’re afraid is going to give you a ticket, and more like to a grandparent who wants to spoil you. Pray for the wisdom to recognize the good and deal with the “bad.”

5. Help other people. When you’re helping others, you don’t worry about yourself. And when you become a giver, you realize how much you have to offer.

6. Be grateful. Before you go to sleep every night, take an inventory of all the blessings in your life and all the things that went well that day, and thank G‑d for them.

7. Spend time in nature and walk every day. Both nature and exercise have calming effects.

8. Find ways to enjoy yourself and laugh. It’s a great mitzvah to be happy! And you can’t be happy and worried at the same time.

9. Use your imagination—for the good. Thoughts have power, so use them positively. Visualize all the wonderful things that can happen, see them happening in your mind’s eye, and there’s a greater chance they will.

10. Look for the positive in every situation.

In our long, miraculous history as a nation—through war, terrorism and inquisition, from Amalek to Osama bin Laden, from the prayers of our foremother Sarah to the prayers of Sarah in San Antonio longing to be a mother, from miracle to miracle—we must always be cognizant of the fact that the Master of the Universe is also the master of our destinies. And we should trust Him.

No one can guarantee a life that is free of suffering. But you will have not one drop more suffering than is decreed for you, unless you inflict it on yourself by constantly worrying and being anxious.

If you’re still distraught after following the above advice, I suggest you speak to a rabbi or a therapist.

May you have many reasons to be joyful!