Fair warning: This post may be a little ‘woowoo’ for some people reading it. I don’t plan on citing any studies or anything. This is mainly because I was able to take some time to gather my own mental bearings, so I figured I should include something talking about the overall importance of mental health.
I got to have some time by myself to just sit and think and not worry about anything the other day. It was absolutely beautiful. This really got me to realize how important alone time really is. It helps mental health big time. I didn’t do anything in particular when this happened, I didn’t do any meditation or pray or anything. I just sat and existed.
Inadvertently, this time alone got my mind to wondering and I tried to think how long it had been since I had just sat in silence and just existed. I had no deep goal for this time and I didn’t bother trying to busy myself. I started just having my thought go wherever they would take me.
As I was thinking about how long it had been since I had done nothing, I remembered a stand up special by the late Ralphie May. He made a joke about how men like to “think about nothing.” Of course, in the context of the joke this is hilarious, but I thought about it with a little more depth than the joke.
The joke is about how women always ask their man “What’re you thinkin’ about?” To which a man responds with, “Nothing.” This leads to an argument and blah blah blah. But really this time “thinking about nothing” is when men filter out useless information. Ralphie May makes the joke about getting rid of useless information “like my mother in law’s birthday” But I started to think about “thinking about nothing” and using time to really figure out what I thought about things.
I came to the conclusion that everyone has to have some sort of mental health ritual to help them cope with the day. It’s a very powerful technique, to “think about nothing.” In fact, I would argue that it is one of the most important things anybody could do. I don’t think it should be limited to just men as the joke implies, but I do think it is important. “Thinking about nothing” really should be called “daily reflection.”
First off, calling it “daily reflection” makes it considerably less likely for it to result in an argument with your significant other. I recommend everyone start some sort of daily reflection. My parents both do a morning ritual where they have about a 15 minute Bible study by themselves. This lets them set the tone for the day by getting in a spiritual practice, and they use the time to reflect on the day before. They do their study separately though.
As I said early, you need to do your reflection alone. My parents have always incorporated a daily “quiet time” as they call it. But this can really be done however you see fit. I personally, am terrible about keeping a scheduled mental health check up. I typically get lucky if I remember to do it at least once a week. It’s probably closer to a once a month thing, but I am working on that.
I have consistently kept up with a daily “thinking about nothing” ritual for about a week now, and it has been wonderful. I have noticed that it allows me more intention in everything I do. Whether I’m trying to target a specific muscle group at the gym or flex my brain muscles with some writing, the “thinking about nothing” has proven to be extremely beneficial.
So, my challenge to you is to “think about nothing.” More specifically, set up a ritual that helps you really focus on yourself. Now, before you say “isn’t thinking about myself, you know, selfish?” The answer is a hard no. It’s called “self care.” It’s extremely important for yourself. How could you ever reach your full potential and give everything you have if you don’t maintain it. Think of it like a car. For a car to transport you anywhere you need to go it has to have regular maintenance. At the least, it needs gas to get from point A to point B. So, think of your special “thinking about nothing” as personal maintenance. You are helping yourself to help others. Take the challenge and let me know how it goes in the comments below.