“A person who thinks all the time has nothing to think about except thoughts. So he loses touch with reality, and lives in a world of illusion.” – Alan Watts.
How can such a seemingly easy task be so difficult to initiate? Well we are humans, natural problem solvers. We like to think about problems whether they could happen, may happen, probably will happen, or not happen at all. It doesn’t matter if we have any control over said problem or not. Whatever the issue is, it will be sure to make its voice heard inside your head.
People can’t wait to graduate, can’t wait till the weekend, can’t wait till they get that six pack or house in the suburbs. Most people are obsessed with the outcome but don’t care very much for the journey it takes to get there.
Is it bad to think? Absolutely not. Is it bad to have outcome-oriented goals. No, that’s where the majority of people’s motivation comes from. Too much of anything, however, is bad. Sometimes you need to shut your mind off. Sometimes you need to think about the process. Sometimes you have to ground yourself.
What is grounding? I would consider grounding shutting your mind off, stop day-dreaming, stop worrying about the future, and just simply live in the present moment. It’s great to have big dreams and aspirations but it can be equally beneficial to come down from the clouds and enjoy the simple pleasures of life.
Enjoy the Process
Why do we watch movies, play video games, and read books? That is, why do we view them in their entirety than just skipping to the end. Its because we want to see the gradual development of the character. We want to see Luke Skywalker grow from a simple moisture farmer on Tatooine to a fully realized Jedi Knight. We don’t just watch Return of the Jedi to see the dancing Ewok scene at the end.
This model applies to any great story, whether it be a book or other medium. If we like having our entertainment set up this way then why don’t we do the same with our own lives? I fear that many people are just too outcome-oriented. I know I was. I came up with a pretty simple realization my senior year in high school. I found whenever I was in a period of life I would consider good (aka not depressed) I savor every moment and dread it coming to an end. On the flip side, during bad periods of time in my life (which were much frequent) I’m very future-oriented not caring about my miserable present at all. Seems like common sense right? If your having a good time naturally you don’t want it to end and of course when the rainy day comes people hope for the future to get better.
The tricky part is enjoying the present during the bad moments as well. I know that it can be hard for people to see the good in a bad moment. What I’ve come to find though is that it’s those bad moments that make the good moments worth living for. It’s good to embrace the bad moments with the good. When you are depressed embrace it rather than bottling it up. If you don’t like the way things are going do whatever you can to fix them right now instead of waiting for things to get better. The honest truth is life isn’t supposed to sunshine and roses all the time. Think about it. Would you want it to be? Not myself personally. How can you know how good you’ve got it until you’ve experienced how bad it can get?
I’m not saying being outcome-oriented and looking towards the future is a bad thing but there must be a balance. Just enjoy the small steps on the journey towards your goal. My main wish for you is to stop wishing for a bad period of life to be over with. I’m sure your life will be better when you get that promotion or get your degree but enjoy the current situation in the meantime. Don’t become too fixated on the outcome because the ultimate outcome in life’s journey is death.
Enjoy the Moment
My advice would be to take time everyday to just enjoy the moment. When your walking around take a look at everything around you, the people, the scenery, the weather. It’s amazing when you incorporate it in your daily routine and start noticing things you never saw before. It’s pure bliss. Suddenly all your worries, concerns, problems are gone for the time being. You start looking at the big picture and may even realize most of your worries are over things you have no control over whatsoever.
Grounding is a great tool for social anxiety, probably the best tactic I’ve found yet. If your tuned in on the present your head isn’t fixated on what other people think about you. You’ve got to get out of your head. It may seem contradictory, but thinking really complicates conversations. Thinking about the subject matter at hand isn’t bad, but thinking about what the other person thinks of you is a problem.
People have big dreams, some of them may be a little too big, unorganized, or not thought out entirely. It’s easy to make extravagant goals, but it’s another thing to follow through with them. Grounding helps you sink your head back down to Earth and makes you think how you can realistically make these goals happen. Bottom line is I believe everyone can benefit from enjoying the process and just enjoying the present moment.