My Worry Jar: Gambling With My Life

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common forms of mental illness plaguing the United States. In fact, roughly 18.1 percent of the population falls prey to anxiety disorders every year.

As someone who is more solution-focused, and not at all prone to dwelling on negative feelings, anxiety has never taken full hold of my life. I have, however, been known to worry quite a bit about whether things will work out the way I want them to — much like anyone else.

After all, when one puts in a lot of hard work and effort, and has done all they can to mitigate against risk, one expects results! So, to tackle that perfectly warranted dose of worry, I invented the Worry Jar, and made a game of gambling with my life.

What Is a Worry Jar?

My Worry Jar is literally a jar — a mason jar to be exact. But what makes it special is how I use it. The idea first came to me in December, when I befriended someone who was extremely unreliable.

We would make great plans to head out, and they would cancel at the last minute for the most ridiculous reasons. There was always a 50/50 chance that I would either be out having the time of my life, or listening to ten-texts’ worth of worthless excuses.

At first, this 50/50 ratio put me in an obvious state of anxiety (the regular kind), whenever we made plans. As someone who works 7 days per week, any time off means rearranging my schedule to make time for outings. This is easily done, but only worth it when those outings come to fruition.

So, rather than continue to obsess over whether or not these plans would work out, I started to place bets with my Worry Jar. Here’s how it works.

How to Gamble With Your Life: No Losers

As I mentioned, the idea for the Worry Jar started with my unreliable friend, who for all their good intentions, can never seem to get their schedule right. But as January came about, I found myself using my Worry Jar to make bets against virtually all big uncertainties in my life. Here’s how.

If there is some cause for worry or uncertainty that is likely to make me lose sleep at night, I make a bet against it. My bets are usually $20 cash. If my worst fear comes true, then I take $20 from the jar to soothe my poor aching heart. But if things work out for the best, my reward is the happy experience, and the jar gets $20.

If you are a pessimist, like I sometimes am — or if you are suffering from anxiety and depression — that Worry Jar starts to fill up. Because there is simply no way that every bad experience you imagine will come to pass, and when it does not, you owe the jar.

Of course, the obvious temptation is to take the money in the jar whenever it suits you. Suit yourself, but I impose 25 percent interest on myself for doing so, and yes, I do pay every cent. As with any self-help tactic, discipline is key.

What Gambling With My Life Did for Me

At first, this was all just a silly game I played with the jar I kept my pocket change in. But over time, that Worry Jar really gave me peace of mind. The fact that there was money in the jar, just like my half-empty bottle of rum cream in Message in a Bottle, became a constant reminder that things are rarely, if ever, as bad as they seem.

That reminder got me through some dark times earlier this year, when the negativity of people around me started to permeate my own life. Almost every American I ran into was suffering from a war with negative emotions. Because of this, I eventually found myself in a position where my only negative thoughts came from everyone else’s!

Thankfully, not only did the Worry Jar remind me of all I should be grateful for, it also provided me with quite a bit of pocket-money when I finally decided to empty it. After all, you can’t just have the money sit there forever. There has to be a time limit, or a goal.

So how much money did I save up? $124 — or $144 if you count the $20 I earned the night before, when my ride left me stranded at work.

Money from Worry Jar Alexis Chateau.jpg

I took that $144 with me on my trip to Utah and Colorado last week, and barely swiped my card for the entire trip. Why should I, when I had my tax-free gambling earnings to dip into? 😅

We all have our obstacles in life, and as someone who lived through child abuse and its resulting trauma and depression, I will ALWAYS maintain that a positive mindset focused on solutions is always the best way forward, and eventually the best way out.

Your solution may not be the bottle of Jamaican rum I used to measure my progress in 2016, or this mason jar I started using in 2017. But if you need reminders of how far along you are on your path to happiness and self-improvement, then I highly recommend getting started with your very own Worry Jar.

If any of you have tried something like this before, or intend to, I would love to hear all about it in the comments below.

Stay tuned for those posts about my Worry-Jar-sponsored adventures in the desert out west, starting next Friday!

26 thoughts on “My Worry Jar: Gambling With My Life

  1. Hey Alex, I must say this Jar idea is going to give me insight on what is happening in my life. I hope the jar of mine will be full. Thank you so much for this lovely idea and beautiful article. I am going to bby the jar right away😊

    1. Hi! I’m glad you found the jar idea useful. These past few months, I haven’t had much of anything to be apprehensive about to bet on, but it’s still got $40 in there and I’m almost certain I’ll owe it another $20 by the end of today! 😂

      All the best!

  2. I LOVE this! I have occasional anxiety too, and usually it’s about relevant situations (the wedding we can’t afford, the house we don’t have yet, the honeymoon/vacationing with someone who is currently stressing me out, my apartment complex recently up for sale, etc etc etc.)

    I saved pocket change for years upwards of $200-300. I would love to try this. Like Marshall and Lily’s “long-term bets” against their friends, lol. (How I Met Your Mother tv show.)

    1. I don’t understand anxiety or depression without relevant situations, unless the person has a chemical imbalance or brain damage. That blows my mind how we can use words to defer our personal responsibility to ourselves as adults! =/ Glad you’re not one of those.

      That said, I’m sorry you have all that going on! I take it you’re marrying the guy who braved the cat allergies? 🙂 My silly advice: Go to a courthouse and get married. It barely costs anything. Have dinner with close family and friends, and then take a weekend trip for your honeymoon. There’s plenty of time later to do the big wedding and honeymoon when you’re more settled. That was the route I took, and I don’t regret it.

      In the meantime, I would love to know how the worry jar works out for you! Keep me posted!

      1. If I could convince my fiance to do that, it would already be done. The wedding is not my idea and I can’t sway him from it. But that’s okay too. Thousands of couples survive weddings every day. I will too. 😉

        Yes indeed! I even have the perfect “jar.” It’s a little fairy house built around a large coffee can, made out of recycled materials I bought at a Renaissance faire. Oh but I think it’s in storage…oops.

      2. Well, then good luck with the wedding. I’m a bit strongheaded and would have been pretty pissed if that decision wasn’t mine to make lol. So kudos to you, for leaving that to him.

        Keep me posted on the jar! Would love to know how much you end up saving as a result of it. 🙂

  3. For 2015, I kept a Happiness Jar. Every time something good happened in my life, I’d scribble it down along with the date (or even time where applicable) and deposit it in the jar. I opened it anytime I felt as if things in my life were going 100% bad or just needed a pickmeup-er. And it definitely helped. I felt happier every time after emptying that jar and it froze the little silly moments throughout my year which keep life enjoyable and worth living e.g. a nice time out I had with friends, a good session of karaoke and dancing in front the mirror alone, scoring higher on a test than I’d anticipated, a good hair day, a positive hair length check, making a new dish for the first time which turned out well, in fact I even made an extra long entry when I’d gotten the phone call from Ministry of Education about my scholarship while studying in the library one afternoon. Anyway, I’ve never been able to get back into that habit since lol. Clearly 365 days of self discipline was enough for me. This worry jar idea seems like one I can do. I worry a lot sometimes and I can surely do well with the extra cash. Furthermore after writing down a worry, you set it free. 🙂 p.s. I’ll use ja$100 notes.

    1. I love the happiness jar idea. I guess I do something similar with my journal, but I don’t ever re-read my journal entries. Journaling is how I do brain dumps for good and bad.

      Use any dollar amount that works for you. I would love to hear how it works for you.

      And congrats on the scholarship!

      1. Thank you! I try not to reread my journal either. I mainly write there when I have a lot on my mind which needs dumping so it’s certainly not something worth revisiting. You wouldn’t go back for the trash after taking it out. 🤣

        I’ll keep you posted if I manage to have the discipline to try it for even 3 months long.

    1. Haha, yes. You can check out that Message in a Bottle post. It was a similar philosophy, but an accidental one. You can use any dollar amount you like 🙂

  4. alright, as a mom of a young adult that is prone to anxiety and depression and such I like this idea of your worry jar. I am always looking for a new, hopefully better working way, to get her out of the funk or make her pay attention to when it’s happening and work against it. I will definitely show her this and hope she’ll try it !!

      1. oh yes, I will check it out and send the link to her. It really is so important to keep an eye out and recognize when things are happening; for better or worse for that matter!

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