All mindfulness advice boils down to “change the stories you tell yourself.”
Mindfulness is about honestly interrogating what you can control and practicing letting go of everything else. We do this by becoming aware of our thoughts and the impact they have on our emotions.
By thinking about our problems differently, we can change how they affect us. Nearly two centuries ago, the Stoic philosopher Epictetus wrote, "A little oil is spilled, a little wine is stolen say, ‘This is the price of tranquility; this is the price of not being upset."
When a little oil is spilled, you have two options:
- Get upset about it, and then clean it up.
- Skip straight to cleaning it up and remind yourself that the price of a calm mind is letting small, bad things happen to you every once in a while.
The latter is simple in concept, but much harder to do in practice.
We can’t directly control our thoughts and emotions, but by reframing our experiences, we can better regulate our responses to life’s challenges.