A couple of weeks ago, I remembered a movie I saw late last year. It was called Bridge of Spies. In it Tom Hanks played a lawyer in the Cold War. He was called upon to arrange a prisoner exchange with the Russians for a spy he had defended. Mark Rylance played the spy, Rudoplh Abel. I liked the movie. What sticks with me though is Rylance's character. Whenever there was uncertainty about what would happen to him or when he was in overt danger, Tom Hank's character would comment that he didn't understand how he could remain so calm and ask him if he wasn't worried about the outcome. Rylance's character always simply replied "Would it help?" Of course, the answer was always no.
When I can remember, I've been trying to apply this question to situations that trigger my anxiety. I look at the circumstance I'm in and ask myself, "Is this worry helping?" As in the movie, the question is always a resounding no. What it does do is increase my dukkha (suffering) exponentially.
I can't tell you that my new mantra is a magic pill that has solved the problem of overreacting to just about everything, but it is a fun variation on the the meditation response "thinking" when applied to an overactive mind.
Practice, practice, practice.