I have always been a thinker and I am obsessed with efficiency, but it wasn’t until recently that I realized the (ironic) inefficiency of my thought process. I tend to ruminate, and the more invested I am in ruminating, the more anxious I become. The more anxiety I feel, the more time I invest ruminating. This is clearly not an effective way to move forward.
What I have come to understand is that when thoughts are dragging me down I can just let them go. I don’t have to figure it all out. And even if there’s something that I do need to figure out, it doesn’t have to happen immediately. I can put it aside and come back to it later.
I have found inspiration on this theme in two books that I have read recently: Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life and The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. In Designing Your Life the authors tout the value of “design thinking”. They explain that “designers don’t think their way forward, [they] build their way forward.” The five mind-sets for learning how to do this are: curiosity (play), bias to action (try stuff), reframing (find the right problems), awareness (know it’s a process), and radical collaboration (ask for help).
In The Gifts of Imperfection, Dr. Brown talks about living whole-heartedly. She uses the acronym D.I.G. DEEP: be Deliberate, get Inspired, and get Going. The overlap I noticed between the two frameworks is based on the themes of thinking clearly and taking action (and how crazy is it that I just wrote this post about digging a hole?!)
Both books offer a similar prerequisite for thinking clearly and taking action: letting go. Designing Your Life includes messages such as “let go of the end goal” or “stop trying to get it right” ; and Dr. Brown even says it in her book title: “let go of who you think you’re supposed to be”.
Of course understanding this concept and putting it into practice are two different things. I’ve been using “let go” as a mantra for over a decade, but it wasn’t until recently that I have actually learned what it feels like to let go. Just saying it wasn’t enough. I had to be willing to do it.
Whenever I notice that my mind is starting to spin I remind myself that a spinning wheel makes no progress. I have to be honest with myself, and I have to allow myself to be vulnerable, to stop spinning and start moving forward. (side note: for me moving forward usually starts by doing something fun and easy that give me energy…or meditating–my favorite app is Headspace)
Whenever I am able to achieve clarity I find that time goes by more slowly, I feel less stressed, and I act more deliberately. With a clear head I can achieve more, at a higher quality. How fitting that the words related to clarity are brightness, brilliance, luminosity, sharpness, and precision.