How would you classify your mental status? Most of us probably think of ourselves as pretty ‘normal’ folks, i.e., lucid, stable, with none of the more significant mental health challenges that fall outside the boundaries of socially acceptable norms. But are we really? I realized over the weekend that in some very real ways, I am insane. Yes, for real. When it comes to certain issues, I am downright irrational.
How exactly? I had just finished a difficult telephone conversation, after which I marvelled at how each and every time I spoke with this particular loved one, I consistently worked myself up into a tizzy whilst I helpfully pointed out the irrationality of the other person’s actions. By the time I hung up, I was no longer irritated with anyone except myself— how is it that I managed to get caught each and every time? Surely, I should know better. I meditate, after all! I could set my watch by my entirely predictable pattern.
I decided to share my irritation with a friend. He, in turn, politely pointed out that I was insane: doing the same thing over and over, and hoping for a different result each time. Oh. The simplicity of this truth left me speechless (no easy task!). And the logic was indisputable.
How often do we do this? Really often, I would wager, when it comes to the things that really get our goat. Perhaps even daily. Yet, if we pause to examine the truth of what happens every time, how often have we actually swung the tides of fortune in our favour through harsh words or actions? Indeed, who in this history of the universe has ever said to us, “Thank you for yelling at me. I have now seen the error of my ways. For the rest of my life, I will always act exactly as you wish.”
Said no-one ever.
This particular mental health issue is mercifully easy to fix, and comes with a multitude of amazing health benefits. Meditation can help us to bring attention to these habitual patterns that unfold again and again in real life moments off the cushion. Are we simply thinking the same old thing, saying the same old thing, doing the same old thing? Have we gotten a different result? If not, what is to be gained from continuing in this way?
Let’s do ourselves the world’s biggest favour right in this moment and end our insanity. So, the next time something threatens your micro-world order, infuse it with a breath of fresh air. Then try doing something different 🙂