Take a moment and measure what percentage of your thinking is dedicated to predicting the future.
How much energy are you spending trying to guess what is about to happen, or could happen in the next few minutes, hours, days, and years? How many alternate realities are you considering as you strive to control the potentially infinite outcomes of those realities? What does it cost you to work so hard to solve a million puzzles a second?
If this feels overwhelming take heart… it’s not so unusual. That’s what brains are designed to do. As a survival strategy your brain is constantly working to recognize patterns, problems, and possibilities to help ensure that you feel safe enough to wake up every day and take on the world.
If you choose to stay in that place of uncertainty you are choosing to remain in a heightened state of alertness that uses your primitive fight or flight response. A recent article about mindfulness explains that this level of existence is connected to a great deal of perpetual anxiety that can lead to frustration and depression in the short term and severe illness and early death in the long term.
What is needed is a shift in thinking that moves your stress from a primitive state of anxiety to a greater sense of confidence about living within your values. What you may not realize is that the whole point of the brain’s anxiety is to reach a deeper understanding of who you are. Strangely enough the secret to survival may be doing the exact opposite of predicting the future.
Rather than obsessing about controlling what could happen in the future, you can spend that energy focusing on clarifying your values and living them out with integrity and confidence. By practicing mindfulness techniques you can incrementally overcome your patterns of fear and anxiety and transform them into a sense of confidence without having to reach the impossible goal of predicting the unfathomable future.
Read 5 mindfulness techniques for letting go of control to learn more about this concept.