The Stupendous Thought Switcher
A whatsapp message from an old team-mate was awaiting my attention.
“Howdy” it said. It was followed by a photograph of us playing cricket, everyone’s face covered with sweat and dust. As I saw the message, life quickly rewound two years back. I was wearing a red shirt , the print on it said – “Use your head”. My teammates were laughing, joking, and figuring out who would go in which team.
Before I could even realize, my breathing was ‘cruising’, it felt like an after effect of an hour of yoga. It’s amazing how some thoughts just normalize everything within the body. I went and laid down on the bed, trying to take a short mental break.It had been a good day, I found myself wondering, can one possibly have a not much pain, enough gain, no repentance peaceful existence? As the mind started crunching facts, I had a revelation. Within thirty minutes I was (more or less) convinced a good existence was possible without agonizing over every case of ‘spilled milk’,material loss, or academic disappointment. It seemed possible to exist happily ever after even if you hadn’t achieved anything innovative, out of the box, extraordinary or wow-worthy.
One straightforward solution was to settle for the “sure-thing” colleges, a mediocre house, a mediocre job. Just stop aiming for the best of everything. Sounds too simple , I thought, and maybe the grapes are sour kind of choices. No one would consciously do this. Plus, if everyone settled for mediocrity, how would we ever have fabulous earphones, speakers, laptops, super efficient tablets, the best mobile phones, unbelievable customer service, high quality online retail, top colleges, best teachers, page-turning books, zippy websites, cool transit system etc. All that being true, its still an option open to everyone.
A choice for whoever would like to take it. My interpretation of mediocrity as something that is “good enough”, conversely means that it is something that is devoid of the obsession for perfectionism. Let me digress, but I promise to get back to where I was. Still being relevant to the not muchpain, enough gain, kind of existence. When I have free time I sleep, or watch a movie.
Resting is good, it re-energizes the cells, free from the stress of thinking, prioritizing. You are just in a state of reduced energy, and it can be a great unwinding experience. In today’s high-pressure world relaxation can happen ONLY when you consciously switch off your thoughts. Consciously is the keyword here. Physical and mental relaxation have become two separate entities in today’s world. If you are relaxing physically you are not necessarily unwinding mentally.
You need to imagine a remote ‘thought switch’ in your handwhen you are ready to be serious about relaxation. Be prepared for multiple clicks. Extrapolating this concept to a larger dream of peaceful existence, switch off every thought that causes stress. Thoughts that cause too much expectation from an already stressed head, thoughts that make you feel like a nobody in front of others. Your project : When you are taking rest, do this simple exercise – As soon as the brain says, “What am I supposed to do after I am done resting,”(which is called the relentlessly planning ahead syndrome) , hit that switch again, Click! Switch that thought off. Then the brain says, “Last week I could not do as much work and slipped a whole GPA point!” Click! Switch that off too.
You are trying to rest, and thoughts are getting in the way.The tricky thing about thoughts is that one you recover from the previous one the next one has already found a way in. “What if I do not get into ANY of the colleges I apply to, another chimes in. Click! Switch those negative thoughts off as they have relatives you don’t want to meet. The funny thing is, just writing this makes me doze off, that’s how relaxing it is.
Let me tell you that the idea of the thought switch is a sure shot winner. It is a process that needs to be practiced to perfect. There are no risks involved. When you are resting and relaxing, switch off every unnecessary thought that interrupts the peace in your head. You are sure to wake-up re-energized and actually rested to resume your work.
Getting back to not being so perfect and still having a fulfilled existence. When you meet gifted, talented, progressive, enthusiastic, ambitious people, sometimes you feel you are not doing enough with your life. I might not be a prodigy , an entrepreneur or an activist, but I have pretty good chances of having a happy peaceful existence. If very big dreams and big achievements come naturally to a teenager, its great, they do not come naturally to a teenager, that’s fine too.Even if a teen has not invented anything, or won Olympiads, started clubs, or led initiatives, he/she still has a very good chance of having a great life.
By the way, its perfectly fine to work with people who have done all that. Its okay to not be in the lead and to follow people or to help people who have taken the initiative to do something extraordinary in life. There is a lot of learning there as well. The truth is, there will always be sufficient time in the future to identify and pursue your passions. If you can exist without being consistently deliberate, disrespectful, or mean, chances are you will be a happy individual .
I have come to believe that its completely in your control. Being at peace with yourself is completely and entirely in your control. Just empower yourself slowly and steadily, bit by bit, one day at a time. All you need to do is reject negative thoughts, with all your might, encourage positive healthy, helpful and courageous thoughts. When those bummer kind of thoughts come creeping in from cracks and crevices, (and believe me they will), grab your ‘thought switch’ quickly, and turn those intrusive thoughts off with a strong Click!.
As you have more power over your thoughts, you will realize life is endlessly simple. When good thoughts come in, relax and revel in them, enjoy them, as they will give you all the hintsyou need to discover your passions and what really makes you happy. You will feel your breathing cruising on the highways of hope and no one can take that away from you. Am I being too optimistic, I think not , cause the control to my ‘thought switch’ is well-trained. So there it is, my first great innovation, my invention to serve others:- ‘The Stupendous Thought Switcher’.
For my acronym friendly generation the -> STS! Created and marketed by a fun-loving high school junior extraordinaire.