It's Our Problem-Free Philosophy

I say "no worries" far too often. I'm not sure where I picked up this decidedly Antipodean affectation, but I can't stop saying it. Actually, I do know where I picked it up; I picked it up from Sean, a guy who's so laidback, it takes him two hours to watch 60 Minutes. (I wish I could claim that joke as my own, but  I'm quoting the great Bob Dylan.)

Sean says "no worries" because nothing ever is a worry to him. You're going to be five minutes late? No worries. You forgot to pick up that milk you said you'd pick up at the store? No worries. You tripped on a banana peel while carrying a gallon jug of bleach past the closet and accidentally spilled it all over his beloved collection of oversized Yankees t-shirts? Well, that one hasn't happened yet. Give me a little time, though. I'm working on it. (Do you think the banana peel would be too suspicious?) 

So I think I adopted the habit because it reminded me of my unruffled and unflappable husband, because a casual "no worries" is the best way I've found to belie the frazzled, neurotic, anxious hamster wheel of my brain and harness some of that imperturbable calm that never found its way into my DNA.

Except now I can't stop saying it. I say it at work. No worries! I say it to my friends. No worries! I say it to the person who crashes their cart into mine at Trader Joe's, even though it was clearly their fault for trying to get to the free sample station too quickly. No worries! You go ahead and try that blueberry vanilla goat cheese! Joke's on you! 

Have you started saying "no worries" too? Don't answer that if you're an Australian, because you get a pass. "No worries" is yours to begin with; in fact, it's even the national motto of Australia, if Wikipedia is to be believed. (And why shouldn't it? A public encyclopedia put together by bored teenagers and out-of-work geography teachers, writing collaboratively, anonymously, and without pay? Sounds watertight to me!)

About a year ago, I was having this conversation with Sarah, Zan, and Alison, in a bar in Brooklyn. This was back when I didn't feel too bad about saying "no worries" so much because I still thought it made me sound cool and unnerved, the sort of wacky gal who'd get a run in her tights and laugh it off with a wave of her hand instead of railing to everyone in a three-foot radius that she'd ONLY JUST BOUGHT THESE YESTERDAY, MY GOD, THE WORLD IS CRUEL AND UNFAIR. But still, we agreed. We said it too much. 

"We should just say something else," said one of us, I forget which, and the rest of us said yes, yes, we should, enough of this "no worries" stuff, I mean who did we think we were, Russell Crowe? 

"Hakuna Matata," said someone else. "We should just say Hakuna Matata." (You got the part about being in a bar in Brooklyn, right? This is the kind of thing that seems like an excellent idea in a bar. Where there is booze.) 

And the terrible thing is, I have actually started saying it. Mostly to Alison and mostly as a joke, but still: Hakuna Matata. Is this better than "no worries"? No, it is much, much worse. Be ye not so stupid, is what I am trying to say. Turn back now if you're considering thinking of an alternative to "no worries," because it is a slippery, slippery slope. And there are Lion King lyrics at the end of it. 

1
Cecilia
Mar 01, 2012

It's a wonderful phrase...(*grin*), but 'no worries' is cool too. Orrrr, you could just say 'shot', which is South African slang for 'sure thing'...

2
Cat
Mar 01, 2012

I too have been saying 'no worries' for years. I continue unabashed because the dirty little secret is that most everyone says the same thing. Well not exactly the same. They say 'no problem'. Which I contend is worse as it makes it seem like you aren't acknowledging that their action has an impact. With 'no worries' you are saying, look what you just did may or may not be a problem for me but I am generous and kind enough to take the burden of worrying about that off your shoulders.

'No worries' is magnanimous on top of being relaxed and low key. It's like a super phrase.

I say continue on with pride.

3
Miriam
Mar 02, 2012

I'm American, but say "no worries" all the time! Picked it up in Australia about 10 years ago and it stuck with me. It's also why I'm neurotic about my tea.

4
Alison Presley
Mar 02, 2012

I FORGOT WHY WE STARTED SAYING THAT!

Hmm...maybe we should start saying "no problem, mon," as though we are from Jamaica. You know, just to change things up a bit.

5
Jane
Mar 02, 2012

Yes! I say "no worries" all the time ..... but then again I am an Aussie. The fact that I say it is ironic in itself as I worry ALL the time about such petty things but still brush it off with a "no worries"!

6
Trina
Mar 02, 2012

I was about to scroll down and write " I say no worries ALL the TIME! I'm glad someone else does too!" before finishing reading... and then you said, dont answer if you're Australian... Like Jane, I am Australian and do say it all the time. It just sounds strange when you're the only Australian where you live: Germany!
PS Love your blog!

7
Lo
Mar 02, 2012

I say it all the time, and I'm not quite sure why. I live in the Netherlands, and when I say it, people always give me a second glace as if my accent has confused them (I'm Canadian, and as you said, 'no worries' is so Australian!)

8
april
Mar 02, 2012

I say it all the time, and it annoys my husband so I tried to stop and failed. One day, I'll stop. One day.

9
Christine H
Mar 02, 2012

It is our default phrase as well, but we picked it up when we lived in New Zealand for almost a year. Now when I hear others saying it around here in NC - and it does seem to be increasing in frequency - I'm thinking "no, no, no....you can't use that" as if they haven't "earned" it.

I believe Miss Manners says that you should never say "no problem" or "no worries" if someone thanks you for doing something because you are implying that it could have been a problem - should just say "you're welcome."

10
One Third Acre Woods
Mar 02, 2012

When we were in Jamaica on the worst honeymoon ever we decided on our last day to get a wake-up call so we could see the sunrise. We got the call and ran out to complete and utter darkness. We trecked back to our room and it was 4:00 in the morning. We called and asked for a later wake-up call explaining that we wanted to see the sunrise. When our second call came it was 8:00 in the morning on a beautiful sunny day. I called back to the front desk to tell them how upset we were and they had the nerve to say, "No problem, no worries." I almost went through the phone to explain why it was a problem for me. He should have been worried.

11
Sarah Wynde
Mar 02, 2012

I like "no worries"! I agree with someone above me, who said the American equivalent is "no problem" and that "no worries" is much better, because "no problem" is so often not really true, whereas "no worries" is more like, "yeah, this is a problem but I know that we'll figure it out and it's nothing to be too concerned about." So I say keep saying it, say it happily!

12
Amy @Picture It
Mar 02, 2012

Do you want to know why you intimidate me? I'll tell you. You can talk about an every day phrase like "no worries" for 9 paragraphs and it is genius and hilarious, that's why.

13
Meredith
Mar 02, 2012

I say "No worries" too (along with "No problem"). I think I started gravitating towards that because my natural "That's fine" started sounding way sarcastic (which is my native language). The phrase that's caught me off guard coming out of my own mouth lately is "You're fine" as a response to when people excuse themselves apologetically (eg. for bumping into me in the store). Why do I feel like these total strangers need my beneficent and magnanimous validation? But I can't stop it now.

14
Eva
Mar 02, 2012

I live in Southern California, and it's such an accepted part of the vernacular my boss says it to me. So I don't worry about it!

15
Annelies
Mar 02, 2012

Isn't it spelt matata? At least that's what Wikipedia says!

16
Nothing But Bonfires
Mar 02, 2012

Annelies -- you're right! I've changed it. Thanks for the correction.

17
Amy
Mar 02, 2012

I used to say "No problem!" or "No worries!" all the time, but one time, I was working in a customer service type situation and said, "No problem!" when someone thanked me, and the gentleman thanking me SHAMED ME and said, "You should always say you're welcome instead of 'No problem!' or 'No worries!' because it's rude!"

So, I've stopped. Kind of.

18
alison
Mar 02, 2012

My best friend is Australian, and I spent 6 years working with people mostly from AUS/NZ, so I most definitely say 'No worries'. Since living in TX I have also picked up 'Bless (so-and-so)', 'Oh my goodness' (with a twang), and a tendency to call everyone sir or ma'am. Apparently I am easily influenced by the language in my environment.

19
BethinBC
Mar 02, 2012

I was thinking the same thing recently. I still think "no worries" is acceptable as a response to forgetting the milk or something else that could be anxiety or stress inducing but is minor. When "no worries" isn't appropriate (and I accidentally do this fairly often) is as a response to "thank you". It shouldn't be "thank you", "no worries". It should be "thank you", "you're welcome". I need to stop not worrying about being thanked.

20
Caitrin
Mar 02, 2012

This post made me laugh.. I catch myself saying that all the time! Except as a Canadian, I make it infinitely worse by adding "Eh" to the end of it... Cringe!

21
Kate
Mar 02, 2012

I say "no worries" all the time, for many many years. I haven't the faintest clue where I picked it up and no one around me (here in Knoxville, Tn) ever says it. We're more of a "no problem, hon!" dialect.

-K

22
holly
Mar 02, 2012

haha my brother and sis in law lived in australia for a few years and when they came back here, they brought "no worries" "good on ya" and "heaps" back with them! and i adopted no worries too! hah.

23
Mariel
Mar 02, 2012

Now the song is stuck in my head. No worries!

24
Nothing But Bonfires
Mar 02, 2012

Amy and BethinBC: Interesting -- I don't often use "no worries" as a substitute for "you're welcome" (for which I still mostly say "you're welcome" or "no problem") but more as a response when someone's apologizing for something. Like "Oh, I'm sorry I'm late!" / "No worries! I've only just got here myself" rather than "Thanks so much for coming over!" / "Yeah, no worries."

25
Emily
Mar 02, 2012

OH GOD THE SONG IS ACTUALLY PLAYING IN MY HOME AT THIS EXACT MOMENT IN TIME HOLLY.

I wish I had known I would face a Lion King obsession; I would have prepared better.

26
CrystalthePistol
Mar 02, 2012

"No worries" is infinitely better than "Cool beans!". I cannot stand when people use that substition for "Sounds great!" or "No problem!". When I hear someone use it, I have to clasp my hands together tightly, to keep from punching them in the face. I don't know if it's a Southern Californian thing or not, but people around here use it a lot!

27

I had someone recently rant to me about people saying "no problem," instead of "you're welcome." Ever since then, I've been obsessive about making sure that I'm only saying "no problem" in an appropriate context. I worry about things like this.

One of my coworkers lived in Italy for a while, and says "a domani" every evening. I've started responding with random Italian-sounding words. Most recently, I've adopted "Bacigalupi" as my sign-off, which is the amazing last name of a vendor I recently worked with.

28
Megan
Mar 02, 2012

No love for TJ's blueberry vanilla goat cheese, huh? I kind of liked it!

29
Ivy
Mar 02, 2012

I say "no worries" a bit, but I blame that on my brother. He started using the phrase and I use it, too, now. However, I can't say that I've ever used it as a response to "thank you", or I've mentally blocked any/all uses as such. I used to use "No problem" way back when, but it now seems unnatural for me. I'd prefer saying "Not a problem", though I use it very infrequently. Maybe it's just semantics or grammar or my convoluted thought processes, since they should mean the same thing, but in my head, "Not a problem" infers that it isn't a problem for me. If you want to make it into a problem in your own head, that's up to you.

I think a lot of the expressions I use come from him (he is older and I tended to follow him around a lot growing up), such as using "Ciao" or "Later" when saying bye.

Hmm.. I think I'll cut off my rambling now :D

30
ruth
Mar 02, 2012

I say no worries all the time....I also say Happy days a lot too....both sayings are a good way to view life I think. As for your hubby Sean being really laid back...nice one!

31
Lindsey
Mar 02, 2012

I tell everyone, "Not a problem!" all the time. I also only really have one retort to listening to someone's problems: "I know that is frustrating!" I've been chastised as I've gotten older for trying to "fix," problems, so now I often just acknowledge that said situation sucks..."That is SO frustrating! I just know it is!"

32
zan
Mar 02, 2012

Don't forget that whoopie pies were also involved. They ALWAYS lead to intelligent revelation.

33
A
Mar 02, 2012

This is complicated. My most used phrases seem to be cyclical. It used to be cool. Now everything is super and yes, no worries is also overused.

I also say no problem. Depends on mood. I definitely say you're welcome, when appropriate.
However, when I've just come back from visiting friends in New Orleans, I do pick up the umm hhhh, instead of the you're welcome/no problem.

Man, it's a minefield! No worries right?

34
Elizabeth
Mar 02, 2012

I was a "not to worry" -er for a long time, and then that morphed into "no worries" with a recent new hire to the department in which I work (large manufacturing firm in SoCal). With her influence, the meaning of "no worries" in my work area (HR) morphed quickly from what you have been discussing to "you know, I'm being nice, but I represent HR, and when I say 'no worries', it really means: You should not only worry, but take action fairly quickly". Sooo... needless to say, I don't use it much anymore.
Never used it much in my life-life at all. So no insight there.
Love the blog, Holly! Think this is the first time I've commented.

35
April
Mar 02, 2012

I recently realized I say "No biggie!" a lot. Ugh. What *is* that?

I also say "No problem" when I mean "You're welcome," which I'm really trying to break myself of.

36
Mel
Mar 02, 2012

Not usually a blog commenter but thought I would share this one. A quirkier Aus version - No Wuckin’ Furries (get what we do there?), or because we are lazy and like to shorten things- No Wukkas. Ahh makes me homesick.

37
Becca
Mar 03, 2012

I'm also a "no worries" say-er, from all the years I lived in Hawaii I think. But I don't really mean it, I usually mean "I AM worried about the stupid/ridiculous/rude/annoying thing you just did, you idiot." But the saying just sorta sticks.

38
Cassie
Mar 03, 2012

Ha... I say "hakuna matata" often when I'm working in Tanzania. And it's said to me often. Honest... so often that, now that I'm back in the States, I have to say "no worries" so I don't get any funny looks!! To say it here? Well... that would be weird, unless you are talking to someone who understands Swahili.

39
Kate
Mar 03, 2012

This is so good. And true. I'm a kiwi and say 'no worries' a bit, but we're more partial to 'no probs'....which may be worse. I suggest you also adopt the uniquely Australian 'too easy' in response to, well, anything. It confuses the heck out of Americans, I've found. Very amusing.

40
edj
Mar 03, 2012

For some reason, I started saying "no worries" a couple of years ago myself. I am not at all Australian either, although I do have Australian friends. I fear it sounds pretentious, but anything is better than "my bad" which I HATE. It's bad grammar. It's from a senegalese (i think?) man who was just learning English, and that's okay, but it's not ok for my kids.

And PLEASE don't say Hakuna Matata. It'll be your bad. AUGH!

41
Anna
Mar 03, 2012

I'm interested to hear of all the people who have been confronted about using "no problem". I think that's my go-to phrase, and I don't find it rude. It isn't a far cry from "my pleasure", and that isn't considered rude. And by the way, may I add that the definition of rude implies intention (rude: discourteous or impolite, especially in a deliberate way), and I do not think anyone using "no problem" is intentionally trying to be discourteous. I think word usage is geographical and generational, and sometimes miscommunications occur because of that.

42
Vee
Mar 04, 2012

The thing about 'no worries' is that I've known many who say it when they actually mean 'o.m.g. I'm melting with stress just now!' - as long as you're really celebrating your laid-backness, it's (ahem) a wonderful phrase.

43
Lydia
Mar 04, 2012

Thanks for the laugh! I had to stifle it because my husband and 5 month old son are sleeping and I AM FREE, but it was well worth the risk of waking them!

44
sensibly sassy
Mar 04, 2012

I was JUST noticing how I too say no worries far to often. The thing that irks me about it is that it isn't really a phrase that fits me...its a little too hippy dippy for me but it KEEPS COMING OUT OF MY MOUTH! I can't stop!

45
Kimba
Mar 05, 2012

picked it up while studying abroad in australia & now i have OTHER people saying it. it's crazy addictive.

46
Kari
Mar 07, 2012

It actually infuriates me somewhat when wait staff, people at the drive-thru window, on the phone, or anywhere I'm asking for something, say, "Not a problem." Because they're starting out an affirmative statement with a negative. I ask if they can substitute sweet potato fries for the regular fries and as soon as the word "Not" comes out of their mouths, I think they're telling me, "Not possible. I cannot substitute the sweet potato fries."

47
Lesley
Mar 10, 2012

I am an Aussie so "no worries" is in my DNA. In response to Meredith...I do that too!! Except I say "you're right". I wish I could stop that one!!
Another option for no worries is "too easy" I use that all the time when I am asked to do something for someone. Breaks it up a bit you know?

48
Maya
Mar 22, 2012

My excuse is something along the lines of "I'm a Southern Californian AND I've been to Oz & love it", but as I see those have been taken, I will absolutely admit & subscribe to this. Hakuna Matata is too hard to spell.

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