Have you noticed how we somehow have become a stimulation-oriented society? From highly processed food that gives our brain more dopamine to limitless on-demand entertainment, one-click shopping delivered to our door, screens in our pockets, we always have stimulation right at our fingertips. We can reward our brain with something new every second of the day.
We don’t know how to do nothing anymore.
This hit home the other day while I was eating lunch alone. Once seated with my plate in front of me, I reached for my phone. Just to scroll. Just to check. Just to be stimulated.
I tucked the phone away and tried to enjoy my food. But what if I missed something? What if someone emailed me? Sitting there felt boring, useless, not rewarding. Like I was left with myself alone and I did not like it.
The more stimulation we are getting, the more we seek. The more bits of dopamine we get, the more we want. The more entertained we are, the faster we become bored and the more intolerable it feels to not have neural stimulation.
We are restless if we are not busy. And don’t know how to cope with not being entertained or stimulated. We lost the vital skill of just being.
Sitting still is a thing of the past.
Admitting that we are doing nothing seems negative. It makes us not important enough. It’s as though there was something wrong with us. We are not being productive.
Does it Matter?
Greatly! Because what is happening is much deeper than simply our inability to sit still.
Doing nothing is a gateway to our thinking.
We literally have tens of thousands of thoughts every day. “Not doing” allows us to see what we are thinking about.
Without the neural stimulation, without the constant reward of dopamine, we have to look at our mind. When we start listening to our brain, we start seeing what’s up there, and all the thoughts about ourselves and our past or our future. And we might realize that a lot of our thoughts are less than healthy.
We can tell a lot about the quality of our thoughts just by asking ourselves whether we like to hang out with just us and our mind? Most of us would have to say “no.” Most of us avoid looking at our brain, and we keep on riding the merry-go-round of neural stimulation.
Our thoughts create our feelings and so when we start really tuning into what we’re thinking, we also tune into the emotions that we feel, including regret, disillusionment, shame, embarrassment. And that may be uncomfortable.
Yet, as uncomfortable as tuning into our own thinking may seem, the bottom line is this: we cannot change we you can’t see. If we refuse to look at those thoughts, if we refuse to take a look at our mind, we will never be able to change it.
The great news is that if we do it, we are going to feel a lot better.
We will stop needing 24/7 stimulation to avoid our own minds.
We will tune into our brain and begin to change our thoughts for the better.
Begin to change the habit of busyness. Allow yourself to sit still without numbing yourself. Tune into your brain.
It’s going to feel a bit worse at first because you are going to come face to face with all the thoughts you have been avoiding. But this is how you will start feeling better. You cannot fix what you don’t see.
More on this in two weeks! For now, commit to the challenge! I did. And I am changed!
As always, please share with your friends who “might” need this.