How are we thinking today?

The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts: therefore, guard accordingly, and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature.

Marcus Aurelius

When you put on green colored glasses the world looks green and when you put on red colored glasses the world looks red – isn’t this true? It is…well perhaps with an exception for the color blind people.

In many ways, our thoughts play the role of these coloured glasses. If we carry stressful thoughts, guess what, we feel the world is a stressful place. If we carry positive thoughts we feel the world is a great place and in many ways the world loses its significance.

Instead of how are we doing today, might as well ask how are we thinking today!

We don’t realise it but most of us live in our heads. When we are super focused in the present moment, we feel a sense of joy even if it was a tiring day and even if there was no result per se, there is a sense of accomplishment with the effort.

The question then arises why do we have such rare days of hyperfocus?

My reflections pointed me towards the following:

  • The work at hand is not of interest to you.
  • The work at hand is mundane and does not require advanced skill levels from you.
  • The work at hand is not your responsibility and you are supposedly only filling in.
  • There is a lack of sense of duty towards the work at hand.
  • You think you are more capable than work at hand.
  • You find at times uncontrollably thinking about other things or in other words your thoughts have taken over your world.

I am here to address the last one of the list – when you feel your thoughts have taken over your headspace.

How did this happen? I am sure you had no intention of clouding your head. You love peace and yet you find yourself at the mercy of countless thoughts.

Although we have numerous thoughts in a day, experts have the number somewhere around 80,000 of them, we don’t recall all of them. We remember the few dominant thoughts.

Negative thoughts have more impact than positive ones. The core reason being negative emotions are louder and have more recall value. Positive emotions, on the other hand, are more subtle – curiosity, peace, content, joy are rather quiet. You are far more likely to remember when you got angry yesterday rather than when you felt peaceful yesterday. You are far likely to remember excitement than when you felt curious yesterday.

Excitement and Happiness are the louder positive emotions. It’s only natural that one tends to want more of it. The more this excitement and happiness are linked to possessions, the more desires you are going to have. The advertising world too has been making you believe that you are going to jump with joy once you possess the thing they are advertising. They appeal to the loud emotions in you. In this wanting to feel positive, you knowingly unknowingly feed desire and this desire does not allow you to enjoy your existence as it is. So while your intentions are good, the nature of desire will push you to research on how to fulfil your desire.

While doing this research, you will come across other things that will get added on your desire list. You will come across success stories and those have the potential to create self-doubt, anxiety that perhaps you are not doing enough, jealousy etc. You start worrying about how will your future be, you start blaming events of the past. You start comparing with those around you.

So what started as an innocent desire to feel more happiness ends up creating a circle of negativity around you.

Now you feel stuck, you no longer wish to do the task at hand. The tasks start taking longer to complete. Your to-do list is now piling up and phew you are exhausted and are finding it extremely difficult to carry on. You want to stop thinking but just can’t!

Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could just do the work at hand with full focus?

How to now clear this messy maze of thoughts? You need to get out of your head!

  • You can use breath as your anchor. Deep belly breathing has a calming effect. You can begin with 5 mins and increase it gradually.
  • De-clutter your surroundings. A clean and clear environment helps in having a clear mind.
  • Walk it off. Get moving. The more you sit with these thoughts, the more they will trouble you.
  • Spend some time with yourself understanding your priorities and read them out every single day.
  • Journaling helps in gaining clarity about what you want and how to go about getting it. It puts an end to unnecessary thoughts.
  • Meditation – Getting into the practice of becoming the observer of thoughts will help you do your work irrespective of your thoughts as you will be able to let these thoughts pass by without getting involved in them.
  • Pursue a hobby to connect with your heart.
  • Don’t dismiss anxiety or depression as overthinking. Treat it medically.

You have complete freedom to choose your thoughts. There is an unlimited supply of positive thoughts in this world and you have unlimited freedom every single moment of life to choose your thoughts.

Feel the peace in the moment by being present to it.

So how are we thinking today? Let’s think good!