Nowadays, there is a significant emphasis on how much time we spend in front of a screen to watch something or scroll on social media. This practice is being criticized as worthless and unproductive. Often we hear that we are constantly on our screens, wasting our time. There is even an app informing us if our screening time has increased or decreased the past week. Encouraging us to celebrate the decreased time. Fair enough, since, indeed, we tend to lose track of our scrolling time easily.
We live in an era where a huge priority has been given on how not to lose time. How to do things faster and more effectively. Everything is moving and changing by the minute. Be more productive, more efficient, more everything. But what about the time we spend or waste being stuck in our heads, thinking about the past or worrying about the future? Where is this time going? Is it somehow counting, or is it lost in the black hole along with the single socks and the Tupperware lids? Is it helping us, or is it delaying us from receiving whatever we want from our life?
Assuming there was an app with the ability to monitor and evaluate when we are stuck in our heads, what would it show? How often during the day would we receive a red alert blinking as fast as possible, notifying us that our life is in danger and warning us that our heads are about to explode due to overwhelm? How often would the app show a soft green light meaning that we feel peaceful and calm? Or a purple color revealing that we feel excited?
This internal brain-behavior of overthinking didn’t start due to new technologies but rather when we stopped being a child and allowed all these thoughts to take over. Before that, we were just there, by simply existing and often giggling for reasons that today wouldn’t make any sense. We didn’t worry about anything else than the present moment – what to play with, the next new thing to explore or climb on, how everything feels, tastes, or smells. And since we forgot how to do that, we became miserable creatures and hostages of our own thoughts. This is enduring for years, decades, or even for our entire lives. And then, one day, the wisdom of life finally finds us, but we realize that now it’s too late, too late to live, too late to explore, and too late to be.
We spend so much of our time thinking about things that we cannot change from the past or things out of our control since we cannot predict the future. We lose the total power of the only one thing that we have the ability to impact, which is the present moment through these small and meaningful decisions that we choose to take or not to take.
Across my window, while sitting safely on my couch at home, I can see the city bus passing by every 15 minutes. I could be thinking about one thousand things at the same time. Trying to solve the unsolvable in my head. Random thoughts spinning around, making me a prisoner within my own body. Letting all this poison virtually run through each of my cells: Am I good enough? Am I smart enough? Am I beautiful enough? Am I funny enough? Am I interesting enough? Am I desirable enough? Am I worthy of love? When that person said that thing the other day, did they mean this or that? Did I do or say the right thing? Have I done enough in my life to make my parents proud? Does she really love me? Will she ever leave me? Do my friends truly value my friendship? Will I lose my job? Or how could I even think that I have any ability to impact this world in any way? Who would want to listen to whatever I have to say? Who do I think I am even to have an opinion?
I let myself drown and suffocate in all the possible faces of fear, fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of being judged, fear of existence, and of course, the majestic fear of all, fear of not being loved and appreciated for who I am.
And while all these thoughts appear like uninvited guests while my home is a mess, and at the speed of light consuming all my brain and body energy, the bus is still passing by. And this bus is proof that life goes on. It has been going on already for so long and will continue much longer after me. This bus is not waiting, and life moves on with or without me on it. And this same bus made me realize that it’s up to me to decide if I will get on my ride and take myself to the life I want to live and be the person I want to become. Or stay motionless and passive in my head.
The thought of the bus passing by became a permanent reminder that so is life, and I started to pay more attention and attribute to it the ability to bring me back to my present. Now I imagine people on the bus going somewhere or returning from somewhere, realizing that they are in continual movement. And made me wonder, what can I do to move forward as well? What is the one thing I can do right now to bring me closer to how I want to feel? Even if that feeling is simple such as relax, sit, and breathe mindfully. This bus takes me out of my head and brings me to some action or awareness that makes me feel unprecedently good. I put aside all the things that I cannot control and focus only on what I have the ability to change right now. Is it to straighten my posture? Is it to put my attention on that little spider that decided to live with us? Is it to stand up, walk up to her, and tell her that I love her? Is it to write an article with the hope of supporting someone? Is it to cook a fantastic meal that would bring us closer together?
I consciously decided to be the driver of my own life and take myself to wherever I want to be or go. There is no one else that can or should be driving my bus. I control all my thoughts and forbid them from taking me away from the only thing that is truly mine: my now and how I want to live it.
I can celebrate the victory of being less in my head and more in my life every day. And I am aware that this time has increased by a lot, even if there isn’t an app to confirm it. The proof is how happy I feel, not some moments in my life but as a general state. You don’t believe that it’s possible? I challenge you to try! Get out of your head and look around you. The bus won’t wait for you. Take whatever imaginary bus is available in your mind or site: city, regional, intercity, or hop-on hop-off. But take that bus. You don’t want to miss your ride.
As I was writing those words to you, I glanced and saw three buses passing by, and I spent that time doing what I love so much. If I manage to impact even one person reading this to get out of their head and take their lives into their own hands, these three virtual bus rides were worth it!
If only I could take back the hours of my life that I was stuck into my head… Now I have to hurry! No more time to waste. Are you coming?
If you ever bring back to your mind this article, I wish you to remember it as The Bus Analogy!
Published in Thrive Global on October 23, 2020.