stop overthinking

Delight yourself to stop overthinking 

Since when did people stop driving with the windows down? Today was a lovely fall day, with temperatures in the 70’s, scattered clouds, and no wind. So I tapped into one of my delights and drove with the windows down and the radio up. Something about the wind whipping through the window reconnects you with the world. It grounds you into the now, the present moment. It helps stop overthinking. 

But every car I passed had the windows up, and every porch and backyard I passed was empty. When did we get so disconnected from the world that we don’t even experience it? 

Delights to ground you

A mentor of mine once told me to make a list of delights, small, inexpensive, or free things that delight my heart. My list was varied and long, but here are a few.

Chewing gum. 

Reading bedtime stories with my boys. 

Long, hot showers on cold days. 

Listening to leaves falling. 

Driving with the windows down. 

In hindsight, these things all have something in common. They all pull me out of my head and into the present. They stop overthinking. Enjoying delights can quiet your anxious thoughts. Delights can also help with negative ruminating. 

Everyday opportunity to be in the present

As zookeepers, we’re so lucky. We’re surrounded by opportunities to delight our heart and get out of our heads. We get to pat a pygmy hippo on the back and know they feel like a slimy avocado. We get to stand at the feet of giraffe and remember that ourselves and our problems are small. Zookeepers get the privilege of physical labor and the satisfaction of pressure washing. 

But we’re spoiled, we do it every day, and we forget. 

That’s what happens with my list of delights. I do a lot of them every day, but I’m going so fast, so stuck in my head that I forget to stop. Stop and be in the moment. 

I see it with zookeepers too. They forget. Getting wrapped up in problems, challenges, and issues that we won’t even remember in 20 years is easy. Why doesn’t my boss want me to train that behavior independently? I wish my co-worker remember to restock on her days. Why doesn’t my new team care about anything I have to contribute? Why is the new kid so pushy and opinionated?

Make a list to stop overthinking

So make a list of delights for yourself. Then write yourself a prescription. How many delights will you enjoy each day? Feel free to change your prescription depending on what’s happening in your life. Are there a lot of stressors? Increase your prescription. 

Once you start practicing your delights daily, don’t forget to reflect on them at the end of each day. Happiness is intentional. It doesn’t just find you, it’s a practice, and you must complete a routine. It’s also your responsibility. Sometimes I think our disconnect with the world and other people has made us feel like life is happening to us. Like we’re just pawns in the game. 

Taking control of your happiness means taking stock of your life and starting to enjoy it. I have a journal beside my bed, and I write down the highlights of my day and any worries I might have every night. It’s done wonders for me to stop my anxious thoughts and overthinking and remember to enjoy the present. 

Excited to hear what’s on your list!

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