The best gift we can have is living in the present moment and really enjoying it for what it is; and, not being in our heads and getting sidetracked.
We think about the things we wish we had, regret what we’ve missed out on and couldn’t do, think about how things would have turned out if we had acted differently.
And we lose ourselves in a reality so different from the present moment. We stay there and become depressed and disappointed, lose hope and can’t find peace. That’s how suffering comes. And it never goes away until we let go and focus on the now.
How many times have you caught yourself obsessing over a future event and playing different scenarios in your head? Or analyzing a painful memory over and over again and feeling worse after each time?
Too many, I’d say.
That behavior, that mental habit of giving birth to thoughts and ideas that are not real or have already happened and nothing can be done, is destructive.
We don’t even take action as a result of that thinking. We just ruin our present by not experiencing it, by focusing on a past event or a future imaginary situation.
And that makes it even more ridiculous.
It’s a harmful behavior. Basically the mind goes over situations (big or insignificant) and starts to wonder why they happened, what the person did wrong, whether it could have been better and how, what it means, whether it will have consequences in the future.
And the reason why over thinking harms us is clear: because it’s not connected with the present moment, which means it’s not real and evokes negative emotions in us that shouldn’t be there.
Only when you think about where you are now, focus on your activity, see the things around you and thank for them, speak with the people around you about positive things, and think about how beautiful and perfect all this is, are you thinking right.
Thinking too much also makes us lose direction in life, and then take the wrong one.
It destroys the picture we have in our mind of our purpose, goals and dreams and we don’t see clearly anymore. From then on we’re stuck.
Often people’s reaction is to blame others instead of taking responsibility for creating their own prison and choosing to live in it. But that’s just another way to escape reality, their decision and the results of it.
We’re so used to thinking stuff like that, that we do it most of the day, or night. Some can’t even sleep. And that’s how stress comes into our lives, and later forms diseases.
Fortunately, there is a solution – there are things we can do to stop overthinking and live with a free and peaceful mind.
1. It all starts with acknowledgment.
Realize you’re doing this and accept it.
Things are this way and you’re behaving like that. Okay. But you can change it.
2. Forgive yourself for falling into this trap and be compassionate.
Many others are there, actually most people. It doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. You just didn’t see it when it all started.
3. Act and start now.
Action is what changes our reality. If we get up and do something about our problem, we will have progress.
Here is what Bob Miglani says about that here:
“One tip that I’ve learned that did more than detox my mind from over thinking is to turn my often worrisome thoughts about the future into effort and work. Taking action, doing something, working on your craft does wonders for your soul.
Each time I would start getting worried about the future, I would make a proactive choice to physically get up from the place I was sitting and walk to the computer to start writing or working on my book.
Sometimes I would go outside to work on planting the tomatoes in my vegetable garden. If I was at work during the day, I started writing ideas on how to improve my work or work on something really interesting.
Whatever the work or project we choose — make sure it is a difficult one because that’s when we start to get flow or momentum.
That’s the place where so much of our success happens.”
4. Small steps.
Start, but start small. That’s a golden rule and it always precedes change.
Over thinking is a habit and you’ll have to approach it like you would approach any other. Small changes over time will lead to a huge transformation.
Start by writing down your thoughts when you catch yourself thinking too much. Or set a goal to notice doing it and stop immediately. Replace thoughts like that with positive ones.
5. Learn to empty your mind every now and then so it can rest.
Meditation is a great choice. I myself practice it when I can: sit down in a place with no distractions, focus on your breathing and empty your mind.
Don’t put a lot of effort, don’t try too hard. Just let go of all thoughts, because you don’t need them. Breathe deeply and feel clarity and freedom.
Do it for a few minutes each day as a start. Then you’ll be able to keep it for longer. And soon you’ll see the benefits this little habit has.
You’ll see that you feel contentment, joy and peace when your mind is still and no thoughts about past or future are in it.
6. Be okay with things.
Look around. See the world as it is, the people in your life and yourself for who you are. Accept it. Realize everything is just as it should be.
Then you’ll feel relieved because you won’t need to change anything, you won’t need to control it or worry about what would happen.
You’ll just experience, mindfully.
7. Forget perfection.
Our ideals, illusions and the desire for perfection are slowly killing us.
You won’t feel happy and contented in the present moment until you let go of them. Acceptance is the answer.
No need for things to be perfect, because they already are.
8. Appreciate the abundance in your life.
Become aware of the present reality, with all its beauty, opportunities, great people, chances to take, places to see, things to do. It’s brilliant!
And there’s no reason to think about it. Just live it. It’s your now and it’s the only thing you have.
Thinking about what was or what will be makes it insignificant and you miss this fleeting moment.
But if you feel the abundance around you and thank for it, you’ll see how much you have. You’ll understand it’s more than enough, and then you won’t need to change it. So there won’t be any reason to think that much.
9. Distract your mind.
The goal is to stop thinking about a certain event, obsessing over a person, planning too much or imagining different scenarios. And distracting yourself is a simple, but useful step to take.
Find a hobby, go out, meet friends, watch a movie, work out, etc.
But distraction works for some time. Only until it heals a part of your pain, bad memories, anxiety or else that causes thinking too much. And stressing over continues as we keep going back to that vicious circle even when a single thought about what we’re fearing, planning or doubting pops up.
Then there’s one thing left to be done.
It’s the most powerful, beneficial and magical process and once we learn how to do it, we become free, in harmony and find bliss – it’s being able to live in the now and being mindful of each moment.