Have you experienced this phenomenon lately? It seems like “No worries!” might be ascending as a useful replacement for the familiar “No problem!” It comes at “Excuse me” moments, when someone is apologizing for a minor mistake. For example, let’s say that I don’t readily yield the right-of-way to a cyclist, realize my mistake, quickly apologize and then hear from the cyclist, “No worries!” The momentary reassurance passes and life moves on.
I’m hearing this response more and more—usually from teenagers and young adults. Their tone of voice is kind, smiles are on their faces and their intent clear: “You’re okay with me in spite of that small slip-up.” More than the assurance that there is no problem, this newer phrase adds some additional qualities to those quick interactions.
When I hear “No worries!”, my reactions are immediate, and they’re tinged with a variety of emotions. In the moments after one of these incidents, I’m relieved that my blunder has not created a bigger problem. I hear assurance of the other person’s understanding or forgiveness. I accept the implicit invitation to reset my attitudes away from what’s not helpful. I gather resolve to continue to push aside anxiety in other places in my life. I put away any possible shame or guilt for my misstep. I am grateful for the non-anxious presence that this person has shared. These are all good things that flash by in the instant in which “No worries!” is proclaimed, assured and invited.
As one who appreciates common kindness, and who tries to extend it to others, I’m impressed. And I’m heartened by what “No worries!” folks are trying to say and do—maybe there’s hope for our culture. Civility with a grace note, encouragement creating empathy, stress sidetracked by helpfulness.
Some other observations come alongside these encounters:
I remember Jesus’ urgings away from anxiety—the Sermon on the Mount holds several—but here applied to more than just worry about life’s physical necessities. I think how, with a few caring words, he would have relieved other, smaller worries among his followers. I understand more fully that there’s a bit of Christ-like good news in anyone’s announcement that worry is not necessary, even in small doses. Everyone —young or old—who tells me “No worries!” is giving me an unexpected and perhaps undeserved gift. These small flashes of grace are reminders to me not to cause others to be troubled, and not to give in to the default anxieties that can stalk my spirit in these times. And if this response is part of a generational trend, I’m very pleased to know that kindness and courtesy will be a part of our society for years to come.
As “No worries!” becomes the new “No problem!”, I will be among its foremost proponents, and among its purposed practitioners. Should this phenomenon be showing itself in your life, take the time to thank each “No worries!” person for the kindness. And if you have not yet experienced this trend in your day-to-day interactions with others, I have only one other thought:
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