• Harirai Khalsa

My brain, my rules

I don't know about you, but I'm getting overwhelmed.

This year has no shortage of attention-grabbers. It's an election year in the US, and there's a pandemic to contend with. It's not a good time to be someone who doesn't want to talk politics or disease. Everywhere you turn it's all anyone is talking about. You start to wonder what people could possibly have talked about before. You start to forget what used to happen in your brain before all the space was reallocated to politics and disease. You start to feel like this.

The thing is, it's all completely optional.

Elections and viruses are simply circumstances that must be dealt with. There is a certain amount of information you need in order to deal with them effectively. It's actually not that much information and doesn't require that much time.

It takes less than a day to do enough research to decide who I'm going to vote for. Following each and every campaign update as it comes out isn't going to change my vote, and it's certainly not going to make me a happier or more balanced person.

It takes ten minutes to learn how to wash your hands properly and get the lowdown on why we're all avoiding each other for the moment. Having hours of conversation listing all the things that have now been canceled is not adding anything new or important.

Instead, I've been trying to take control of my own thoughts and attention by operating on a need-to-know basis.

Here's the test:

1. Does this information have direct implications for the actions I need to perform in my life?

2. If not, is there some other specific value it is providing me? Like, for example, does it make me happy?

If the answer to both of these is no, I'm going to do my darnedest to budget my time and attention elsewhere. They're incredibly precious commodities that I can't get back once they're spent. Every minute I spend thinking about something useless is a minute I'm not spending on the unique gifts that make me me.

And just think: if everybody did that, where would all the joy come from?

You can't change what happens in the world. But you can change what you focus on.

What do you want to do with your mind while it's still here?

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