I trade emails from time to time with a very dear and wise friend. We commiserate about life and its ups and downs. We’ll check in to see how the other is doing. We remind each other how fortunate we are. When one of us is feeling down, the other will have some words of wisdom to soothe our respective weary or worried souls.
Her last reply struck a chord with my heart and inspired this post. I’d told her I’d experienced some insomnia lately. I don’t have anything terrible going on in my life, but there at times when my mind just goes spinning, one thought leading to another, until I’ve got a full-fledged what if, should’ve, could’ve, would’ve thing nagging at my grey matter. Sleep? Out of the question.
Rumination and Mind Wandering
When the mind ruminates, it ponders, muses, chews, weighs, and then does in all over again. Psychology Today defined it as “problem solving gone wrong.” Have you ever played a scenario over and over in your mind or lay awake at night thinking and rethinking something? You may be a ruminator or a mind wanderer.
That might actually be a good movie or cable series – The Ruminator. The Mind Wanderer. I can see the graphics exploding on the screen now. Who should the cast be? Is the main character a woman or man? Is this a good idea? No? Yes? Or maybe. What if it is and I don’t do anything? What if I try to write a script and it’s a waste of time? What if I invest a lot of time in this or any idea and nothing comes of it? What if it does? What if I fail? What if I succeed? What will happen if I do either? Should I finish that short story I started two weeks ago or trash it? Why do I have this song stuck in my head?
The above is an example of a mind muse. It can go all kinds of places from there. Is it a good or bad thing? Depends on which expert you believe. According to a New York Times article, it’s good for your mind to wander here (creative minds need it) and there. I think the trick is to know when to rein it in.
Face It. Embrace It.
I believe what may keep the worrying and ruminating in check is facing whatever it is that’s troubling you, no matter how mundane or significant it is. Whether it’s “nothing” or “something,” when you’re mind mulling over and over, it really doesn’t matter.
I’ve learned a method to face and embrace. It goes something like this:
There goes that thought again. I’m just going to let it simmer in here for a while and not try to solve anything. Just let the thoughts come and go. Breathe in and out.
I’ll listen to white noise. Chant a word or expression over and over. Say a prayer. Bring up a memory that makes me smile, laugh, and sigh with contentment. Read. Write.
The thing that I’m worrying, fretting, or musing about becomes less intimidating. They’re just thoughts—coming and going. Soon they fade and I begin to think of all the good in life. And there’s so much good.
Get to the Point
I’m getting to the point. At the beginning of this post, I mentioned my friend, the one I trade emails with pretty regularly. In one email, she’d written some words of assurance and encouragement to me. Then, she wrote about her good.
“My good today was…” she wrote. I love that. She told me a story about how she did something that changed someone’s life. It was extraordinary and I don’t think she knows how much it really was.
We hear that annoying and overused expression, “My bad,” a facetious, grammatically incorrect phrase used to indicate an apology.
I prefer the expression, “My good,” meaning every day we should be able to say something that’s good. It can be the simplest thing.
My good: I walked three miles and had a great idea. I was kind to someone. Let my husband know how much I loved him. Hugged my pups. Called my Mom and had a long talk.
However big or small your good is today or any day, it really can change the trajectory of someone’s life.
As far as ruminating, well, I’m letting that go. Let it go! Let it go! Isn’t that the song from the movie Frozen?
What’s your good lately? Do you ever have overactive mind musings? Do you think it’s good for the mind to wander? How do you rein in your wandering mind? What about songs that get stuck in your head? Do tell.
Here’s a catchy tune from the early 90s about freeing your mind. You know the one. Happy weekend.