Think Less, Breathe More

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Analysis Paralysis

With current events boiling around us, we may be feeling the burning sting of stress. Uncertainty seems to lurk around every corner, especially if we start to ponder the potential impact of national or global situations on our individual lives. Though most of us have no direct impact on such distressing trends, we nonetheless worry about their impact on us.

Stress born of things beyond our control is undeniably daunting. We second-guess our decisions and worry about whether we’re taking all the right steps, or if we missed anything potentially problematic. But as discussed in this Hidden Brain podcast with philosopher Ted Slingerland, sometimes our overthinking can quickly turn into overworrying. It may seem wise to contemplate every variable and every option before committing to a number of our daily decisions, but sometimes doing so invites analysis paralysis.

Sometimes, unfortunately, there are no right answers. The search for perfection, for invulnerability, may instead hinder forward momentum, causing hesitance when instant action is crucial. Sometimes, we must simply know how to flow. As emphasized by engineering professor Leidy Klotz in this podcast, we can often achieve progress through simplicity rather than complexity. Though jokingly depicted in this clip from The Simpsons, there is indeed some solace to be found in the evasion of overthinking.

When allowing ourselves to enter a flow state, we can better engage with our intuition and our instincts, as Steven Kotler of the Flow Research Collective delineates in the video below. Life is full of unique ups and downs for each of us. Challenges are ubiquitous, as prominent in life as anything else. Overworrying, overthinking, and overstressing do not make them any less prevalent.

Instead, we must remember to occasionally tell ourselves that it’s okay to not overthink. Sometimes it’s okay to go with the flow, to feel the moment, and just breathe.

“It’s not stress that kills us, it’s our reaction to it.”
– Hans Selye

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