Know thyself

Looking for peace of mind? Ask yourself these 5 questions every night

Over 70,000 separate thoughts race through our consciousness from the moment we wake up to the time we fall asleep. Our minds are some of the busiest places in the universe.

There’s hardly time for self-exploration, which helps to provide clarity and peace of mind. To appease the sources of our mental and emotional troubles, here are five questions to be rehearsed every evening on a regular basis:

Question #1: What am I really worried about?

This question recognizes something unusual about how we operate. We frequently don’t stop to ask ourselves what we’re truly worried about. Our minds feel anxious long before they’re ever motivated to explore why. The question bids us to stop running and turn around, looking at what might be ailing us. The use of the word “really” is strategic, as we often use one worry to shield us from another.

Question #2: What am I presently sad about?

We often go around being far braver than is good for us, pushing aside slights, hurts, disappointments, and griefs that flow through our river of consciousness. Stoicism and strength carry their own dangers, and this question encourages us to notice the vulnerabilities beneath our competent and strong exteriors.

Question #3: Who has annoyed me and how?

We want to be polite, but here too, we need to have the courage of our actual sensitivity. No day goes by without someone annoying us in some fundamental way, usually without them meaning to. Our spirits will be lighter if we can bring ourselves to spell out the injury, what happened, how it made us feel, and what we might tell ourselves to regain equilibrium.

Question #4: What is my body telling me?

Much of what we feel but don’t process ends up in our bodies, leading to backaches, tense shoulders, knotted stomachs, and fluttery hearts. Regularly draining our bodies of these emotions can help us live more easily around them. We should mentally scan our bodies and ask what each organ might require.

Question #5: What is still lovely despite all the other difficulties?

Every day brings us up against things that still delight and enchant us, often small elements.

Summoned up in their full richness, these moments can fortify us against the voices of despair. We need to make a conscious effort to squeeze joy out of beneficial elements that might otherwise be forgotten.

Our lives have some lovely aspects to them, but we may surprisingly regularly and rather clumsily have to make a list of them to realize that they exist.

Socrates, when asked to define our highest purpose as human beings, offered a legendary answer: to know ourselves. We should aspire to be people who never cease to try to make sense of themselves.

At the close of every day, we should devote ourselves constantly to trying to shrink the scale of the darkness within us, bringing what was once in shadow closer to the light of interpretation. This way, we stand a chance of becoming slightly less frantic and rather more joyful, creative, and calm creatures.

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Allan Button: The School  of Life

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