Mental clutter: Useless thoughts

There are many areas in ones life that one can use some minimizing, but the one that is often overlooked is our thoughts. It’s too bad to, because this it the one most closely linked to happiness. Well actually, there are two types of “mental clutter”: Useless knowledge (I often refer to as “empty calorie entertainment” for the mind), and useless thoughts and emotions. For this post I am discussing useless thoughts and emotions; I have discussed useless knowledge in previous posts.

Useless thoughts/emotions are ones that keep us from being happy, keep us from being motivated, keep us from seeing life how we want to see it. They also keep us from appreciating what we have. These useless thoughts and emotions are:

  • Judgment – Judgement of others to be specific. Judgement of others only becomes important if it directly effects our lives. In deciding how close we want to keep certain people, and how far to trust them; but it’s not very often that we have to make these judgments. The majority of judgments people make, is just fuel for gossip. I.E. useless and unproductive. Not only that, but more often times than not, we don’t have enough info to make a sound judgment. In fact, unless we live with someone and have known them for many years, we can’t make an informed judgment of them. It is far more productive for us to judge ourselves, as this can be motivation for growth. I once heard a phrase that applies here: “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” Eleanor Roosevelt. This applies to our thoughts just the same as our conversation.
  • Jealousy – Again ….. why are we thinking of people in unproductive ways? The same logic for judgment applies here. It is healthy to want what others may have, as we can use them as a guide to acquire these things. That is more of a mentor/protege relationship; a productive positive “looking up to” situation. Jealousy instead, carries resentment.
  • Anxiety over things we can’t control – These may be the most difficult set of thoughts and emotions to shake off. Especially when we have invested so much time into whatever is failing us. But the truth is, dwelling on it and losing sleep is just gonna add to the problem. We have to let that which we cannot control, go. Leave it in God’s hands.
  • Dwelling in the past – For starters, regret is a wasted emotion. What happened, happened, and we can not change that. Second, frequent contemplation about a time when “things were better” anchors us from moving ahead in our lives. We are different people than we were back then; at least if we are living life properly we are.
  • Hate (Not anger) – Hate is stress and baggage. Self destructive. Anger on the other hand can be motivation for change, for positive action. It’s just important that we manage our anger, direct it, control it, so that it doesn’t become hate.
  • Ego – All this does is put a wall between us and everyone around us. By doing this we won’t listen as attentively, we won’t be as open minded, and therefore ultimately we won’t grow as people. When we put ourselves on a pedestal we can’t hear what is going on down below, so we’ll miss out.

Lets make a conscience effort to purge ourselves of the above thoughts and emotions. They cause us to lose focus. I personally guarantee that we will be more happy, overnight.