The product of mental activity; that which one thinks: a body of thought.
With stress coming from all directions in our lives, our minds can really suffer and cause a ton of preventable health problems for us. If not well-taken care of, our thoughts can get pretty rowdy or out of shape. The simplest and fastest way to get these thoughts in shape is to take your intellect for a walk.
Step 1: Take one small step
And walk it off! You could go on a long, soul-searching trek around the world, climb mountains, or beat the thoughts to shape by speed-walking with a Fitbit to prove your track record. Or not. During the course of your day, you’re bound to get from point A to point B for one reason or another. Today, “walking it off” for me meant getting out of bed this morning.
My 6 a.m. alarm hasn’t gone off yet, but it was light outside. It was almost 5 a.m. I had just woken up from a strange dream. I stared at the ceiling for a few minutes, then felt my right leg slide down the side of the bed. I kept letting it slide until my toes touched the floor. That was it. The first step. A few seconds later, I was a few feet away from my bed and sitting at my desk, staring out the window.
Step 2: Stare at stuff
I don’t recommend blankly staring at people because it’s rude. But staring at objects is fun. Most inanimate objects won’t feel threatened, self-conscious, or intimidated. Stare at stuff like the sky, sand, sidewalks, walls, trees, flowers, buildings, art, coffee cups, or staplers. You could even take it up a notch and try staring at birds, squirrels, or puppies. But don’t stare at electronic screens. If you’re staring at a puppy on your computer screen, tv, or your phone — you’re not getting the full effect of the puppy! Go look at something up close and study the amazing details of the thing. Notice details you like and the details you don’t like, and try to admire them all for what they are, anyway. Find a detail that you’re thankful for and consider why you’re thankful for it.
While getting out of bed this morning, I looked down at the floor and looked at all the details in the wood grain of the hardwood. My apartment was warm but the floor felt nice and cool under my feet. And it was as if each line of the floorboards was leading me right to the bathroom, so I could shower and get ready for the day. But apparently, on the way there, I got tired and had to take a break at my desk.
Step 3: Repeat
Step, stare, repeat. Do it again and again until it becomes second nature.
These exercises are not a marketing ploy, like those shampoo bottles that want you to lather, rinse, repeat so that you’ll run out of shampoo faster and have to buy more! The more steps we take, and the more details we pay attention to, the more we repeat this, the more at peace our thoughts will feel.
Secret Bonus Step: Go at your own pace
Others don’t know what you’re going through. So, don’t compete with others because you don’t know what others are going through, either. Everyone moves at their own pace. These steps are an endless journey with no particular destination. If you’d like, you can create some pit stops for yourself, whether it’s sitting at your desk or sun bathing on the beach. Tomorrow you might even be staring at the amazing sight that is the Colosseum. Meanwhile I might have finally arrived in the bathroom, brushing my teeth and taking a toothbrush out of my mouth while wondering how something that was just infused in my morning breath marinade still smells so minty-fresh. Architecture is beautiful, and so is toothpaste, okay?!
Oops, this should have been the first Step: Breathe
The good news is that you’re probably already doing this. The bad news is that you’re probably not doing it hard enough. Our thoughts come from our brains and when our brains doesn’t get enough oxygen, they become cranky and don’t want to work well, and give us some half-assed quality thoughtmanship. So, always inhale nice and deeply to bathe your brain in freshness, especially while you’re doing the all the other steps. Air is free but breathe it like you’re paying for it!
But, if you think about it, we kind of are paying for air by simply living our lives, which we need to make money for, which depends on us to work a job, which creates stress, which causes the buildup of thoughts in our minds, which makes us cranky, which interrupts our focus on breathing deeply. Man, life is complicated. Go back to Step 1.