Getting out of your head and shifting your focus to something other than your thoughts is a powerful antidote to cynicism. You can’t be judging other people if your mind is elsewhere. Doing something that gets you out of your head is how you divert your attention. And it is also how you restore yourself and your ability to trust in other people and in life itself.
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There are three basic buckets of things to do that will shift your attention away from yourself and your endless spiral of thoughts.
Immersing yourself in nature
And doing something with your body
Let’s Start With Giving Back
It’s a simple truth that being of service raises your vibe. Because it gets you focused on other people instead of yourself. It helps you realize that there are problems in the world that are bigger than yours. It gives you perspective. And It also helps you be in the present. If you’re thinking about someone else, and what they need, and how you can provide it, you can’t also be ruminating on how much people suck. There is a body of research that shows that folks who help others receive benefits of their own that promote health and wellbeing. If you’re feeling cynical about the election, channel that frustration into volunteering for a campaign. Or maybe donating, or participating in some form of democracy. It will help you focus on what’s possible instead of what your mind is telling you is just the way things are.
Immerse Yourself In Nature
Another great choice to pull you out of cynicism and get you out of your head is to immerse yourself in nature. Nature is a healer, there are just no two ways about it. A friend I follow on Twitter has been posting a lot about how her back-deck astronomy pursuits have helped her pull back from a dark mental place. Nature puts things in perspective. Both how small any one person’s problems are, and how we are here on this Earth for such a short time. Go for a walk in the nearest park, sit under a tree, pull weeds in your garden, take your shoes off and walk in the grass, bundle up and walk in the rain or the cold, gaze at the moon and stars. It will change your perspective.
And Finally, Do Something With Your Body
Any time you’re in your head too much, you’ve all but forgotten you have a body. The thoughts are just so loud and compelling that it’s like you’re just a head in a chair. When you catch yourself doom-scrolling or or getting upset about the actions of others, go move your body. Yes, a run or a workout will clear your head and if that appeals you, by all means do it. But it could also be cooking dinner or sweeping or stretching–something either mellow or that maybe doesn’t feel like movement but still requires your whole body to do. Movement occupies the part of your brain that’s otherwise just spitting out stressful chatter because you have to pay at least a little bit of attention to what you’re doing. It’s like giving a puppy a chew toy; suddenly things get a lot quieter in that noggin of yours.
Daily Tiny Assignment
So today, or this weekend, when you find your thoughts veering toward things like “why do people suck” you know what to do to pull yourself out of those cynical thoughts. You can do something to give back. Interact with nature somehow. Or do something with your body. Heck, maybe you could even combine two or more of these things. Like going on a hike, or making something to eat for a loved one or a neighbor. It’s natural to have moments of cynicism, but we don’t have to stay there.
By using one of the three cynicism antidotes I’ve shared this week—either looking for the loving reason, reminding yourself to be an empty cup, or getting out of your head—you can guide yourself back to trusting again. And not blind trust, but realistic trust in others so that you can access hope for the future and the world. Because, let’s be honest, we’re going to need it to get through this long winter and heal from the divisiveness of the last four years.