Suffering by Overthinking

You nervous? You shouldn’t be. We’ve been over this. You’re concerned and growing anxious over that which is hypothetical. Stop, breathe and acknowledge that you cannot possibly predict how the future will play out. Have a plan, but don’t dwell on it. Too much thinking will lead to neurotic burnout. One of the most beautiful things in life is not knowing what the hell will happen tomorrow…

But what would happen if more of our thoughts were tied to the present moment and not lost in abstraction? What would that look like? Our ability to think analytically about our experiences is a tremendous gift. But we tend to not give our thoughts enough credit in their capacity to shape our perception in an overwhelming number of ways; they are the foundation of every decision that we make after all.

“Everywhere you look, you find what you are looking for.”

-Ram Dass

  When we allow our thoughts to act outside our control, we give way for uncertainty to manifest into a compounding presence of suffering. “How are we going to pay these bills?”, “My car just broke down, how am I going to get to work?”. Moments like these have us focus on the uncertainty, rather than what is known and what can be done to get us closer to a solution. Panic tends to be our immediate response. The Stoics knew this well. Seneca, a well revered stoic in his time, summed this up when he said:

“True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence on the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not.”

– Seneca

 This sort of “mind hacking” approach to life can incorporate a state of being that makes one regain control of their psychological autonomy. No longer led astray by mental unrest. This is done through consistent practice. We must start by striving to be more immersed in the present so we can make headway in clearing out the unnecessary fear mongering our ego uses to cloud our intuition. When our thoughts begin to drift, we must cut the cord and return to baseline. How can we address what is right in front of us if we are somewhere else mentally?

 When you find yourself overwhelmed, bring your attention to your breath. If this sounds like new age rhetoric it’s because it is, it just also happens to be incredibly effective. By bringing your focus to your breathing you come back into alignment with your intuitive equilibrium. Only when we are in a state of calm can we hope to address our situation with optimum clarity.

 

Copyright © 2017 Sky Patterson

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