Taking countless mental side trips while someone is talking to me–visiting my anxieties, grocery shopping, planning what comes next, or stressing over what I should have said or done–is generally how I roll.
We can think so much faster than someone can talk.
So if I don’t use my “excess cognitive capacity” to focus my whole attention on the person talking, what is being said, or why it is being said, that excess cognitive capacity will be “working” somewhere else.
An honest and mature evaluation of my past and current relationships tells me this is an important project.
Similar to the new Van Gogh exhibit, I dreamed I could ask Alexa to project whatever art I requested. In the dream, as easy as asking for a song, I could completely immerse myself in the colors, movement, vision, and talent of the requested artist–on the walls, on the ceiling, on the floor–everywhere.
I woke refreshed.
Today I am thinking about using my everyday power to immerse myself in what is beautiful.
After all, choosing the images we dwell upon has always been the superpower of poets and overcomers.
But, in the absence (or even in spite) of these, when at work or home, we find ourselves in hot water (and we will), there is no need to panic.
I find this G. K. Chesterton wisdom particularly helpful in the dead of night. When either a bad dream or a lurking fear grabs my imagination and tempts me to run circles around my problems, the idea that trial brings benefitgives consolation and helps keep things in perspective.
My friend who was on mental-health leave from a brutal work-environment told me that his counselor encouraged him to make a list of daily activities such as brushing his teeth, taking a shower, and getting dressed so that he could check them off as accomplishments (if he managed to do them). Seemed ridiculous but it helped.
Every time we check something off a list, our body releases endorphins (natural pain killers). When we are paralyzed with pain, doubt, fear, or disappointment, pain-killing is the first, critical step.
Pythagoras and my friend’s counselor seemed to understand the simple formula of: