Most people spend their entire lives stuck in their heads. In fact, it feels normal. Everyone else is in the same situation, so many people just assume that that’s life. Studies show 90% of our thoughts are the same thoughts we had yesterday (and the day before that, and the day before that, etc.)!
Of course, over the decades, spiritual teachers have been trying to tell people that things can be different. You don’t just have to live in your head, you can access different states of being that are far more joyful and pleasant.
Intuitively, we all know this to be true. Many of us look back at our childhoods and wonder why we can’t recapture the joy that we felt as kids. Or, if we had terrible childhoods, we wonder why we can’t be as exuberant as animals who always seem to have their lives under control.
Have you ever seen a depressed blackbird? Are there squirrels who feel sad about the way that their parents brought them up? Are there worms who feel anxious and can’t move through the soil for fear of being eaten? Of course not.
Life is about having fun. It’s not about just working hard and striving for attainment. In the inimitable words of Alan Watts, that approach is “all retch and no vomit.”
Let go of your attachment to your thoughts
Many people believe that they are their thoughts and emotions. They’re so identified with them that it seems like their entire reality.
Because of this, they do everything they can to avoid having the thoughts and emotions that they don’t want. They won’t go to parties or they’ll avoid going for a promotion, just in case of rejection, humiliation or some other mind pattern that they fear.
The trick here is to get underneath all this and experience life as a piece of consciousness. Underneath all the chatter of mental activity, there’s a simple and pure existence, something that you can experience for itself. If you’re able to allow your thoughts to pass you by without letting them affect you, then you can embrace life more fully.
Look outside (beyond) yourself
Another strategy you can embrace is to look outside yourself and dedicate everything you do to others. This process helps you forget yourself and allows you to let go of the greed and fear that’s holding you back.
When you make your focus of attention external to your own life and success, your life satisfaction goes up. You discover that when you’re more open and willing to share your experiences, knowledge, wealth and time with others, it is actually more fulfilling to you. It gets you out of your head and forces you to focus on other things.
Become aware of your thoughts and emotions
As experts such as the ones at Sunshine Behavioral Health know all too well, non awareness of thoughts and emotions is problematic. If you can’t see your blind spots, you don’t know where you’re going wrong.
Practice mindfulness by observing the mental traffic in your head. Just take note of it and watch what happens. Don’t try to resist anything. Let it flow, and eventually it’ll lose its power over you.