How have you learned to stay balanced and unperturbed by the passing thoughts?

View those responses on a continuum

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Few things in this world cause more emotional and existential distress than the thoughts we think.

It’s our biological inheritance, for better or for worse. And if we have any intention of living fulfilled and flourishing life, then we are obliged to learn how to orient ourselves around these thoughts.

To do so, it’s helpful to view those responses on a continuum.

We introduce calm by having an awareness of the impulse. Because even if our control fails and we give in, that moment is still a sign of progress.

We continue calm by working on expanding the gap between impulse and reaction. Because even if it only lasts a minute, it still represents our growing maturity.

We advance calm by seeing if we can experience our impulses without acting on them. Because even if we feel anxious and sweaty while that emotional weather pattern passes, we know that no feeling lasts forever.

We deepen calm by having forgiveness and compassion for our impulses. Because we know that the guilt about having our thoughts is much more damaging than the thoughts themselves.

We maintain calm by wondering what might be behind our urges. Because even if the stones in our river of thought trip us up, we can survive happily in spite of our frustrations.

We expand calm by separating irrational, bizarre and hostile thoughts from our identity. Because we trust that who we are is not at the mercy of the absurd movies playing inside our heads.

We sustain calm by releasing thoughts that don’t serve us and replacing them with one that do. Because no matter what these feeling say they wants from us, we are the ones who control the narrative in the movie of our minds.

This continuum is imperfect and incomplete, but building out the different points along it is a useful exercise. It’s a reminder that we select each moment of our lives from an infinite pool of adjacent possible futures.

And if we remain calm, we can always decide on the next right action.

How have you learned to stay balanced and unperturbed by the passing thoughts?

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