This is something I know about you and I don’t even know you. I am 100% sure that you spend A LOT of time in your head.
Thinking, worrying, stressing, pushing, call it whatever you want. I call it a preoccupied mind. And with what?
99% of your thoughts are useless.
William James put it best:
All my life I’ve been obsessed with practical things. Practical philosophy, practical knowledge, practical books, practical work, and practical advice.
That idea comes from Pragmatism, a philosophical tradition that started in the 19th century in America. Charles Sanders Peirce, a Harvard professor, is considered as the “father of Pragmatism.”
But it was William James, a trained physician turned philosopher, who really defined the philosophy.
About thoughts, worry, and stress, William James says:
Pragmatism believes that our mind is our tool. Your mind should work for you, not the other way around. Individuals who don’t master their mind, don’t believe it’s possible.
They say: “I can’t resist thinking these things.”
Well, you can with enough practice. It’s a skill.
Think for a second, you have the ability to decide what you think. Or, you can choose NOT to think.
Just by thinking of this, while you are reading this article, you choose what to think.
And that is one of the most important and most practical things you can learn in life. Before I learned that skill, I would spend hours and hours inside my head.
Just think about how much you think.
And the list goes on. That is all REAL. That’s stuff people tell me when I ask them what they worry about.
You know what those thoughts do to you? Guilt, anger, suffering.
But think about what’s the practical use of your thoughts?
And the answer is? I’m waiting. Still no answer? Point taken.
Thoughts have no use. 99% of them that is.
Which thoughts are useful?
That’s it. You can ignore every other thought.
If you’re constantly thinking, it’s because you haven’t’ trained your mind yet. You HAVE to get out of your head.
If not, you go mental. Everyone will. No exception.
Likewise, you’re probably thinking so much that you’re missing out of life. Did you notice the sunshine this morning when you woke up? Or the raindrops? Did you notice the smell of your coffee? Did you feel the texture of your breakfast?
If your answer is no, you definitely need to get out of your head. Stop thinking, start feeling and truly live your life.
Now, you might think: “How do I train myself to stop thinking useless thoughts?”
That’s the starting point. Every time you start floating off, become aware of it. Just observe your brain. Step outside yourself and just observe the crazy things you’re thinking about.
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Don’t judge. Don’t think you’re stupid. If you do that, you’re thinking again.
No, what you need to do is say this to yourself: “Ah that’s a great thought. Now, let’s get back to reality.”
Are you back to reality? Do you feel your eyes reading the letters on your screen? Do you feel your phone in your hand? Are you thinking about how you’re going to apply this information to your life?
Great. You’re USING your mind, and it’s not the other way around. Now, keep using that brain of yours.
I’ll tell you this: It’s the most powerful and effective tool on earth.