I think we all know someone who you’d call a worrier or an over-thinker. It seems like they take forever to figure out what they need to do. They might frustrate us, but according to a recent study, people with these traits often have them because they’re incredibly developed, creative people.
Researchers at King’s College in London made the connection between anxiety and a stronger imagination as well. According to Dr. Adam Perkins, an expert in Neurobiology of Personality:
“It occurred to me that if you happen to have a preponderance of negatively hued self-generated thoughts, due to high levels of spontaneous activity in the parts of the medial prefrontal cortex that govern conscious perception of threat and you also have a tendency to switch to panic sooner than average people, due to possessing especially high reactivity in the basolateral nuclei of the amygdale, then that means you can experience intense negative emotions even when there’s no threat present. This could mean that for specific neural reasons, high scorers on neuroticism have a highly active imagination, which acts as a built-in threat generator.”
In a sense, worry is the mother of invention. When you think about it, it makes sense. Many of our greatest breakthroughs through the years were a result of worry. Nuclear power? Worry over energy. Advanced weapons? Worry of invasion. Medical breakthroughs? Worry over illness and death.
Vivid imaginations have helped humanity best nature. Again, Dr. Perkins says:
“Cheerful, happy-go-lucky people by definition do not brood about problems and so must be at a disadvantage when problem-solving compared to a more neurotic person. We have a useful sanity check for our theory because it is easy to observe that many geniuses seem to have a brooding, unhappy tendency that hints they are fairly high on the neuroticism spectrum. For example, think of the life stories of Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Vincent Van Gogh, Kurt Cobain, etc. Perhaps the link between creativity and neuroticism was summed up most succinctly of all by John Lennon when he said: ‘Genius is pain.’”
So the next time you look down on someone for worrying, just remember they’re probably a freaking genius.