Stop Thinking Too Much and Just Be
How many times have you been at the store looking at an item trying to see if you want to buy it or not? You look at it, pick it up, turn it around in your hand, put it down, and repeat.
I'm not talking about a large purchase like a car. Just something small less than $50. And we are spending half and hour walking around in the store still deciding if we want it.
Stop thinking so much. If you have to debate with yourself whether you want to buy it or not, you do not need it. Skip it.
But no, you buy it anyways. And now you see the product at home and you are deciding if you really should have bought it. Should you return it?
Maybe. Maybe not. Now you spend another half hour debating with yourself if you should return it.
And you do. For some people, they may return half the stuff they buy.
Isn't that just too much wasted mental energy?
Even with large purchase items like a car, one ask should I get the red one or the blue one. Red is nice, but it gets more tickets. Statistically, maybe it may be true. But realistically, you get ticket if you drive too fast. Whether red cars get more ticket is irrelevant to the purchase decision. We are over-thinking it. We are thinking too much.
Rudy Tanzi, author of Super Brain, says in the video on the right that ...
"Too much intellect can be just as dangerous as too much emotion."
Deepak Chopra, co-author of Super Brain and spiritual guru, has his own thoughts in the below video where he says that most of us are living in a dream...
That is because for most of us for most of the time, our thoughts are either thinking about the future (planning, thinking, contemplating) or recollecting the past (reminiscing and regretting).
We are hardly ever being in the present moment. That is because our mind wanders. As we age, our minds tend to wander more. There is a study that shows that more mind-wandering is associated with shorter telomeres, a biological marker of aging. [reference] This is just an association, and not necessarily a cause and effect.
Meditation -- don't let your brain control you
One way of stop thinking too much in the future or too much in the past is the practice of meditation. It is the practice of being in the present moment. It is not necessarily to stop thoughts. We can not stop thoughts (even in our sleep). It is more about being aware of the present sensations and sounds in our external and internal environment.
Stop and smell the roses is a common phrase. But also try to listen to the birds. Maybe that is why people who bird watch find it so relaxing. When watching a bird, you are no longer worrying about what you did in the past or what you are going to do in the future. You are in the present moment.
If there is no birds around, you can focus on your breath. Notice your own breath as you breath normally. Whenever stray thoughts pops into your mind, just notice them and then return your attention to your breath. Stray thoughts are just like clouds passing in the sky. No need to hang on to them. Just notice them and let them pass.
You are in control of your brain. You can tell your brain what to focus its attention on at any moment. Do not let your brain control you. Many times the brain will try to control you by bringing up thoughts and trigger emotions which sucks you into thinking in cycles.
The practice of meditation is brain training to force your brain to focus on what you want it to focus on. Focusing on a neutral subject like your breath is good exercise. One technique is to count breaths.
Another technique is walking meditation. You walk and focus on your footsteps or on your muscles and body movements. Yoga and Tai Chi are sometimes referred to as moving meditation for similar reasons.
Another technique is eating meditation. When eating, just eat and enjoy the mouth feel of the food and the smell of the aroma. Don't watch TV or read emails on your phone.
Too much multitasking
In modern societies, there is too much multitasking. It is as if there is no time to waste. We have to be doing several things at once.
How many times have you seen people waiting in line at the grocery store or bus stop and they are reading on their phone or listening to podcasts. Sometimes you see people at restaurants and they are either all reading newspapers or on their phones.
Next time, how about just waiting in line and not doing anything? Stop thinking and stop doing. And just be. If you are outside, feel the breeze. If you are inside, see if you can detect any sounds. Notice any sensations in your body.
But that is too boring, you say. You say you have to do something "more interesting". Well, that is where meditation practice comes in. With practice, this will become normal and not "too boring".
Stop thinking and sleep on it
Your brain is thinking even when you are sleeping. However, you need to get enough sleep. Because during sleep, your brain goes into certain states that do not occur during waking hours.
But at least you are no longer consciously thinking. Your brain is sub-consciously integrating memories and thoughts.
That is why when faced with a problem, one is often told to "sleep on it". And sometimes after doing that the solution becomes clear.