Sanity Hacks

Listen to Your Fixations

Actively listening to the words you tell yourself inside your head is called metacognition. It’s the first step in stilling your mind and figuring out who you really are. This can be very frightening and very painful, but it’s worth it.

It’s a lot more fun to think about other people’s problems than it is to think about our own. That’s why we do it all the time. But fixating on other people’s lives is a colossal waste of time and effort.

What’s going on inside our heads when we fixate on people? Usually, it’s one of these three things:

1) Jealousy
2) Something about their life or their behavior makes you feel insecure
3) They’re exhibiting some trait that you recognize in yourself and that makes you uncomfortable.

Listening to your fixations and looking inward for their causes can teach you more about yourself than you ever wanted to know. But it’s worth if you want to live your own life.

Don’t Expect Life to be Fair

We are complex social organisms and our intense preoccupation with fairness is an essential aspect of our biological makeup. This trait is even observable in other social organisms.

But life isn’t fair. And you can drive yourself crazy fixating on how everybody else deserves to be punished for not being as righteous as you are. But it’s a colossal waste of time and effort and it won’t get you anywhere.

I’m not saying that people shouldn’t be held accountable for the things we do. We need to have rules and laws and courts and judges for society to function. And we need to be vigilant in our efforts to make these institutions function as fairly as humanly possible.

But don’t fritter away your precious time on Earth fixating on the great unfairness of it all. That will only make you miserable.

Live Your Own Life

When I hear myself thinking about what other people should or shouldn’t be doing, I try to quell my overactive mind by repeating this mantra:

Mind my own business. Live my own life.

This happens several times a day. Unfortunately, fixating on what other people are doing and assessing the rightness or wrongness of their behavior is a natural part of being human. But so are jealousy and hatred. That doesn’t mean they’re good for us.

We can’t prevent ourselves from wanting to regulate other people’s lives, but we can monitor our thinking and try to focus on our own behavior as much as possible.

Don’t Let Resentment Rule Your Life

Some clichés are really helpful and this bit of folk wisdom is invaluable:

Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.

Even if you have a legitimate gripe with the person you resent, your resentment is your own issue. Unless magic and voodoo dolls actually work, there’s no way your resentment is going to change the world. It’s just going to make your spirit ill.

Work to make the world a better place and spread as much love as you can. You can also go to yoga class and try to breathe your resentment away. It helps.

by Richard W. Bray

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