LIVING WELL DEPENDS UPON THINKING WELL ABOUT THE THINGS THAT MATTER
When we talk about overthinking, we’re not talking about having our basic needs met, like a place to sleep or where we’ll find our next meal. Those fundamental questions merit concern and require thought — sometimes lots of it. And it is not talking about major life decisions, like whether to change careers or end a relationship or move across the country.
Big decisions like these require dedicated thought. Overthinking means those times when we lavish mental energy on things that don’t deserve it. Those times when we can’t seem to think about anything else, even though we know our thoughts are better spent elsewhere.
We might feel stuck reviewing something we’ve done in the past or imagining something that might happen in the future. We might spend twenty minutes leaping to imaginative and dire conclusions about that short email from our boss or the note from our child’s teacher, or we may construct an elaborate and scary scenario in our mind about why our mom hasn’t returned our call.
We might lie awake at night wondering what our friends really think of us, or if a loved one seems tired of us, or if our library fines are getting really and truly out of control.
We might catch ourselves in the middle of a long train of thought about whether we should exchange that new pair of jeans for the next size up, or why the washing machine water doesn’t seem as hot as it used to and what we should do about it.
Whether the concern elbowing into our thoughts is big or small, we recognize the common thread: these thoughts are repetitive, unhealthy, and unhelpful. Our brains are hard at work but accomplishing nothing. It is exhausting and makes us feel crappy. Dr. Susan Nolen – Hoeksema was a psychology professor at Yale whose research focused on women’s mental health and well – being. Her studies over a twenty – year period showed that overthinking makes life harder, hurts our relationships, and may contribute to mental disorders like depression, severe anxiety, and alcohol abuse.
When we spend our time overthinking, that’s what we’re doing. Let’s face it: nobody wants to live a life characterized by overthinking. But it doesn’t feel like something we’re choosing; it feels like something we can’t escape. We don’t want to fritter away our one precious life second guessing ourselves about a conversation we had last Thursday or whether we’re sick enough to go to the doctor or when we’re going to squeeze in a Costco run this week. We want better for ourselves. But we’re not sure how to get there.
This book is for those who would like to look back one day and declare a life well lived. Living well depends upon thinking well — about the things that matter. We want to learn how to overcome decision fatigue, stop feeling overwhelmed, and bring more peace and joy into our lives. That means learning strategies for approaching both our minutes and our days.