Your thought space is valuable. You have people to love. You have solutions to come up with. You have genius ideas to flesh out. Your imagination and creativity need a free flow to maximize your productivity. How much time do you really want to spend dwelling on details, conditions, and worries that don’t matter?
Lately, I’ve been putting my thoughts into a balance, weighing them to see which ones I need to work with and which ones I don’t. I’ve caught myself spending too much time thinking about issues, actual or imagined, that are ultimately of little to no consequence in my life.
For instance, as a spoken word artist, I’m devoted to giving clear, clean presentations. I may have to fit a lot of words into just a few minutes while keeping a set rhythm. Sometimes a sudden frog in my throat or an unexpected additional dose of emotion in the passion of the moment will cause my delivery to an audience to vary from the way I rehearsed the song in private. My voice might rise in volume. My words may pick up speed. Yet, many times, the variance in my presentation is chiefly in my mind because I’ve got an extra thought floating around while I’m speaking: Can anyone hear that I’m holding back a frog in my throat? Or, Gee, I didn’t mean to get so revved up over this piece.
After presentations, I’ll often get positive feedback from the audience, but I’ve recently found that when I go back home to privately debrief, I can easily spend more time regretting a frog in my throat–that my listeners may or may not have heard, and most likely didn’t care about–than being thankful that somebody’s life was touched by my words, even enough for him or her to tell me so.
When I caught myself slipping into a negative debriefing after my latest spoken word presentation, I had to stop and tell myself, “You know what? I’m not a robot. I’m a human being. Yes, my own songs are going to touch me in the moment, I’m going to be passionate, and that’s a good thing. So what if I didn’t mean to tear up while I was speaking? Somebody in the audience was touched by my humanness.” So, instead of spending (wasting) more time berating myself over a spoken word delivery not going as I’d planned, I turned my thoughts to more productive things, including praying for the people I’d spoken to that day.
It can be easy for us to spend (waste) so much time thinking about how much we dread a task we have to do today, worrying about that bill we can’t pay tomorrow, mentally rehearsing how much so-and-so got on our nerves again yesterday, and on and on. But actually, we should weigh some of those thoughts and see if they are helping us to fulfill our purpose in life or not, or even if they’re helping us to fulfill our purpose for the day or not. We’ll find that there are some concerns that we can transform into active searches for solutions (to replace unproductive worrying), and we’ll even find that there are many unimportant thoughts that we can drop altogether because they’re not helping anyone or anything.
Your thought space is valuable, and your time is limited. Use your thoughts and time on matters that ultimately matter.