Don't Magical Think, Ya Dink

March 12, 2016

So, hey, this is weird. I haven't worn a necklace in over a month, because every time I did I felt I'd had a bad day. So, I stopped. And the bad days stopped. And now I think my necklace brings about bad days. And so I've stopped wearing it! HA! Ha. Ha. . . I said I was excited multiple times about a bounce house that was going to be at a party I was planning on attending, and then the bounce house got canceled. Was it because I said I was excited? A part of my mind believes it was.

I have a knack for taking possibilities in any given situation to the worst degree. I'm going to Costa Rica on vacation soon and what could go wrong? Oh, I might get a brain amoeba from the hot springs or land myself in some hospital when I slip on a waterfall.

This is a completely common and unacceptable level of bonkers and I am here to dispel my own ways of thinking. For anyone out there who might, themselves, have a tendency to attribute things to voodoo thinking or a simple necklace, this is for you, too.

I believe I think the way I do as a defense - to convince myself there is something I can do to prevent the ups and downs in life. I look for associations. I have experienced some low lows and just kind of happen to maybe feel like maybe I can prop up the roller-coaster and make it into a leveled track that circles round and round with no adverse effects on my sensitive digestive system. To do this, apparently, according to my mind, all I need to do is stop wearing cursed necklaces and thoroughly consider every which way that roller-coaster might fail safety standards and cause me to lose a limb.

I have been on a tear for the last few years against the philosophy that everything happens for a reason. People get kidnapped to live in a basement for 15 years and it isn't for a reason. Loved ones don't die so their loved ones can learn to appreciate their own lives more and we don't miss out on opportunities because we're meant for better. We miss out because we took five minutes to pick our noses while the competition was rehearsing once again and people die unfairly. Death hands out detentions and suspensions to people with straight A grades and perfect attendance because death doesn't give a shit. The point is, if you reach a higher standing as a result of a crappy event, the credit goes, at least in large part, to you.

YOU take your situational well-being into your own hands and determine how to shape it. If things turn out in a way that you see as beneficial, then BEHOLD: you, you magnificent human, are an optimist with an outlook that gets a shining review from me, your approving non-doctor, Dr. Hayden.

I have a pretty impressive case of hypochondria and a talent for convincing even my doctor that she should be concerned that the mirrored pimples on my face are actually a malignant growth with horns that are beginning to protrude on either side of my chin. When things get good, I hunker down in the WebMD library and look for the things that loom, just waiting for the right moment to unleash total hell upon my existence. While it is wise to pay attention when something is not as it usually is in your body, the only use I would recommend for level of wariness is in protecting Mr. Barack Obama, our classy and wonderful president whom I will miss dearly when he is no longer on my news feed every day.

If you have these issues, you may be thinking, "OK, Dr. Hayden, I agree. My mind is also like a timid vet tech trying to muzzle all it encounters in the world and now I would like you to tell me how to calm it." WELL, friends, as someone who still struggles with this daily, I can only say what has been working to help me be more present. As a testament to myself, I have felt so amorous lately that I began to worry I was pregnant! I feel so goddamn lovey dovey about being alive that I was sure hormones were to blame; some foreign object must surely be within, causing this notable shift in my presence. I am, after all, far past the honeymoon phase at 30. (Which btw, ugh, babies totally have no idea how good they have it)

I am working to accept that life will have its ups and downs, realizing I actually have intuition (like a trustworthy 90% on beer advocate), and I make the best decisions I am capable of. We do what we can and that has to be enough. We need to learn to trust ourselves. And also to go to the doctor when a compelling case of leprosy or scarlet fever pops up in the 'Things I am currently convinced I have" mental space.

Some things that help me include running outside while listening to interviews of people who inspire me, taking time to sit outside in quiet when possible, hugging my boyfriend and reminding myself how thankful I am for him, spending time with my dog, treating myself to a craving, and, perhaps counterintuitively, focusing on the fact that I will die at some unknown time. If I miss out on something for fear of judgement, no one will care but me on my deathbed.

I reached a point of apathy where looking into houses when walking my dog at night led to the thought that people are just here to work and watch TV. I felt a kind of hopelessness about life. Now that I have learned to take pleasure in the small things that make me tick, I look into those houses and feel warm for the pleasure they must take in their surroundings while reading a good book or writing or, yes, simply relaxing fully with a TV show. It's all about learning to enjoy your time here, whatever that looks like. My enjoyment looks like a baby elephant investigating my face with its trunk on a clear beach with a platter of Torchy's Tacos, some 90's Mariah, and a totally kickass water jug that keeps water so cold the ice would not melt in a fire.

Keeping with the bear theme...

Life is a mix of good luck, bad luck, and the actions you take in weathering each. Some people have experienced far greater traumas than I and recovered. At this moment, I am just happy to be here. In the whole universe, atoms came together to make up this body that I have the privilege of inhabiting for who knows how long and simply sitting here with a cup of tea on a really nice day is such an exquisite fortune.

The art of letting go is not something any of us can be experts at (the scene in Titanic where Rose lets Jack sink IS SO STRESSFUL FOR ME), but we can prepare ourselves for the tough lessons by living mindfully, taking action to feel better when we eat the extra shame-Oreos, and understanding that we cannot help it sometimes when things take a turn for the worse. There might not be a reason, but as long as you seek a way forward and learn something, you will find something to feel grateful for.


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