#1 Overthinking the little things
We’re all human.
I know, so profound.
This isn’t the most enlightening piece of knowledge I’ve offered, but hear me out. In the hustle and bustle of our lives, it’s easy to lose perspective.
We are all, in fact, human beings. We are biological machines that take in oxygen to fuel our cells and exert carbon dioxide.
In fact, I had a real human-chemistry experience the other day.
I was wrapping up my emails for the day at work when one of my workmates rushed in. Their left eye was red and they struggled to keep it open. They anxiously asked if “I knew chemistry.”
Now imagine what kind of thoughts were computing in my head.
What about chemistry? What do you need me to do to your eye? I’m so confused and not qualified to do whatever it is you’re about to ask of me.
Lucky for me, my workmate’s contact lens was simply stuck, and they needed me to work with their chemistry student for a few minutes.
I felt instant relief. Oh so you’re working with a chemistry student, I thought. I can totally do that. I felt much better after absolutely overthinking the situation. Why do I stress so much?
Overthinking isn’t my only mentally draining character trait. There’s a long list of other thoughts and feelings I know I need to reduce in my life.
These traits wear us out and put us down, and for no good reason. Life presents us with new problems everyday. There’s a positive way to go about dealing with each one.
1. Overthinking the little things
I think it’s safe to say that most of us put too much value on things that aren’t that important. For example, we put too much emphasis on our everyday productivity.
You may have a side hustle, but you also work a day job. You might come home from a long day at your 9–5 job, but feel bad when you are too tired to do extra work on your side hustle.
First off, there are ways to work on your side hustle while also keeping your job. Secondly, the side hustle isn’t going to go anywhere if you take a day off.
In fact, taking a day off and not thinking about work will help you in the long-run. No one wants to get burnt out.
2. Living in the past
We are the living combination of all of our past failures. Learning from the past is one thing, but living in it is another. At a certain point, you have to see past your mistakes and look forward to the future.
As humans, we are constantly developing. This happens whether we want to or not. One may develop unintentionally, or one may develop with purpose.
The choice is solely up to you.
3. Looking too far into the future
Similar to overthinking, it’s useless to look too far ahead.
When I was younger, I stressed about school even during summer break. I’d have horrible panic attacks that left me paralyzed with the thought of going back.
I didn’t really know why I had these panic attacks either. I didn’t even dislike school. I liked being around my friends and teachers, but the thought of going back crippled me.
The future is not certain. The only thing that is certain, other than death and taxes, is uncertainty.
I don’t think our lives are set on a track. There is an elaborate web of choices in front of us. If you skip to the end of the web, then you might miss out on much of your life.
Live in the present instead, and enjoy all the moments as they come to you.
4. Not living in the moment
Don’t live in the past. Don’t live in the future. What are you to do?
I’m taking you for a rollercoaster, and I’m sorry. Such is life that we are bound to maintain homeostasis. But I think it’s important to live in the present.
Why worry about tomorrow when there’s still today? There’s always another moment, but you will never get this moment back.
For example, I’m editing this article on a Sunday. I’m working on my last day of the weekend before I go back to my job. I could stress about tomorrow, but that wouldn’t do me any good.
We have enough stress in our lives to deal with as it is. You don’t need to be the reason for more of it.
5. Attempting to please everyone
You can’t expect to make everyone happy.
Just because you aren’t going the extra mile to please everybody does not make you a bad person or mean that some people will hate you. It’s quite the opposite.
Not everyone will like you, but no one is going to hate you for saying no every once and awhile. In fact, who cares? It’s more important to please yourself first anyway.
6. Putting too much pressure on yourself
This right here is for anyone like me.
When I picked writing up again, I told myself I’d be the next popular writer on Medium. Things changed when I realized I was lying to myself. Though it’s not an impossible goal, I’m definitely not going to be living off my income as a writer anytime soon.
I wanted to quit my day job so bad for a little while. I dreamed of post-pandemic mornings at the coffee shop, where I drank matcha lattes while writing my heart out.
I’m not there yet, but I will be. The fact that I know I’ll be there one day keeps me going. It helps me remain consistent, but without any unnecessary pressure on my back.
It’s all too easy to compare yourself to others who, in your mind, are better off than you. Just remember that everyone lives at their own pace.
Everything happens for a reason. Once you realize that, and adapt to slow and steady progress, you’ll see your life expand right before your eyes.
7. Being afraid of change
Change is a necessary part of life and it happens all the time. For example, many of us either changed our daily job routine, or lost jobs when the pandemic struck.
It feels reductant to even talk about the pandemic at this point, but it’s proof that our lives are not set in stone. Our lives are bound to change at any moment, whether it’s our fault or not.
The only thing we can do is worry about what we can control. The pandemic happened, so it doesn't help to complain about it. All we can do is control our actions, and express positivity to those who might be less fortunate.
8. Thinking about just yourself
This is a tough one because we’re prone to tunnel vision. We hardly have time for ourselves, let alone other people.
Spend one minute each day considering others feelings. You might gain a new perspective. You’ll realize that your selfishness might be undermining your own happiness.
We’re doing temperature checks at my office right now.
Clients come in and have to wait outside for a manager to scan them. The other night, there weren’t any managers at the front desk.
I walked up to them, totally out of my way, and asked if they needed help. I got them settled in for their meeting myself. I didn’t have to do it. I was wrapping up my own work so I could go home for the night. However, I didn’t think twice about it. It was the right thing to do.
My boss noticed. He was driving away and saw me talk to the client. I received an email from him later thanking me and letting me know that he sees my efforts. He also included the entire management team in the email.
I didn’t expect this kind of praise at all, but it happened because I made a simple choice.
9. Trying to find your one true purpose
If you haven’t figured out your true calling by now, then forget about chasing it. If you’re meant to know in your heart what you truly want to do, then the time will come.
You won’t realize it by stressing out about it for the rest of your life.
It’s possible you might be a renaissance man or woman. You’re like me. It’s more fun this way anyway. Being really good at just one thing is overrated.
My little “listicle” wound up being longer than anticipated. I have to cut myself back. These qualities are ever-present in my life, and I imagine you share some of my qualms.
Since these are human qualities, there’s no guarantee they will ever truly dissipate. The best thing we can do is continually work on ourselves.
We will inevitably fall back on these character traits.
The best progress is made slowly. Take a step forward in any direction, and call that improvement.
Again, we are human beings. We live for mistakes, but we also live for improvement. That’s what makes life interesting. Without the need to improve, the need to change, nothing interesting would ever happen.