I was having Pho with Des today and he told me about an article he read. The article was about a movie the blogger had watched was particularly disturbing. When he went to bed that night, he was having trouble falling asleep because he couldn’t stop thinking about what he had seen. He asked his girlfriend if she ever had trouble falling asleep because she couldn’t let go of a thought. She said not any more because she plays the cuteness game.
The cuteness game starts by thinking of something cute and then trying to think of something that is even cuter. Then try to think of something that is cuter still, and so on. The game ends when you fall asleep.
It is immaterial that cuteness is subjective, all that matters is that you try to think of something that is cuter and cuter and cuter. The point is, when you’re thinking of cute things you’re not able to think about the creepy movie you saw.
I laughed when he told me, then he told me what Sarah said, she plays the size game. Same sort of thing, pick something and then think of something that is smaller or bigger than it, then continue in that direction. Not that you need an example, but a bread box is bigger than a loaf of bread which is bigger than a jar of peanut butter which is larger than a salted cracker, etc…. Again the game ends when you fall asleep.
I laughed even louder at that game because the whole idea of it is so profoundly simple that I feel like a moron for not thinking of it myself. Up until today I worked to silence my mind when I found myself thinking things I didn’t like. It had never occurred to me to just think of something else. I liken this to a bad smell. When faced with a bad smell you have two choices, you can try to get rid of the smell or you can try to cover over the smell with a better smell. Which one do you think is easier? It works the same way with thinking. You’ll have an easier time thinking about a litter of puppies playing than you will of turning your thinking off. Thinking is natural, not thinking isn’t.
We can control our thoughts and so we should take an active role in what we allow ourselves to think. There will be times when you will need to worry about something, to make sure you have addressed all of the known knowns, but at some point you will start to over think it, triggering a feedback loop that keeps you worrying about it. Even if you did leave the stove on, so what? You cook with it, it’s designed to be on. Make the decision about what you are going to do about it and start trying to think of three things that are cuter than a kitten. Smile and go back to living outside your head.