“Tell me to what you pay attention and I will tell you who you are.” ~Jose Ortega y Gassett
Have you ever suddenly stopped yourself after realizing you’d been dwelling on something insignificant for way too long?
Maybe it was something that didn’t go right in your day, or something mildly offensive that someone said. Whatever it was, it was something you knew wasn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things, and yet you felt a need to mentally rehash it over and over in your head.
I’ve done this many times before. Though I know it’s draining and not even slightly productive, it sometimes it seems like a proactive way to “fix” or “solve” something that somehow felt wrong.
I suspect it’s also a means to reinforce to myself that I am right and didn’t deserve to be slighted, because rehashing a perceived offense is essentially passing judgment over and over again.
A while back I realized that every time I give power to the little things that might seem bothersome—when a stranger flips me off on the road, or someone doesn’t return my email right away—I am choosing to be that unproductive, anxious energy.
Every time I get caught up in my need to feel liked and respected, and my indignation over feeling that I’m not, I am choosing to be the fear of being mistreated.
Thinking isn’t just an activity—it manifests as a state of being.
As the Buddha said, what we think, we become.
Now I’m not suggesting we should swallow our feelings on events big and small in fear they may somehow define us.
I’m suggesting that we question the thoughts that create our feelings so that we don’t let them consume us—especially when we’re creating drama and unease over something we may not even remember in a few days’ time.
We spend so much of our time focusing our attention on things that don’t really serve us, when the thing that would serve us the most is to focus our attention inward.
If we can observe and understand how our thoughts are impacting us, we can change who we’re being and how we’re experiencing the world.
It starts with a simple realization: We can feel free and present—and be open, here in this moment—if we choose to release the little worries that stand in the way of that.
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