Our brains would genuinely be happier if we could attach a fake steering wheel to “life” and pretend we were controlling everything that happens to us.
The Big Lebowski is one of my favourite movies.
I could go on – at length – about why. Although I’m not going to, so this GIF will have to suffice:
One quote from the film that’s always stuck with me is “compulsively and without joy“.
I’m not sure why, perhaps there’s just something about the wording. For whatever reason, the phrase wiggled its way into my brain and has lived there ever since.
And I’m pretty pleased about that, because it turns out this particular quote is useful.
Now that I’m (mostly) successfully managing my anxiety, everything should be great forever… right?!
Obviously life isn’t magically perfect. (Though of course “less anxiety” is a huge improvement!)
This is fine. I never expected perfection.
But something else I didn’t expect was that managing anxiety better could itself cause problems.
Recently I got a haircut. And, as you might expect, nothing particularly surprising happened.
But, as I was paying, the hairdresser asked a question. “Do you have 50p by any chance?”
Immediately I sprang into action. I searched rapidly, poring through my wallet, tipping coins into my hand and picking out the right change for her.
She whispered something to me I could barely hear. “Relax, no-one’s throwing you out!”
I laughed and smiled and gave her the money. I hadn’t been feeling especially anxious, so I assumed she was joking.
But as I walked away I realised she wasn’t joking. More than that… she was right.
We’ve Got The Whole Wide World (In Our Heads),
We’ve Got The Whole World (In Our Heads),
We’ve Got The Whole World In Our Heads.
This homage to an old hymn gets weird rapidly after verse one, so let’s end it there.
Question: Is the whole world in our heads?
Answer: Depends on what you mean by “in our head”.
Let me explain, using this Highly Scientific Diagram of how we experience the world:
Minds May Say…
When things go wrong, my life is not worth living…
If I don’t get a degree, my life is not worth living.
If I don’t have a partner, my life is not worth living.
If I fail at work, my life is not worth living.
If I spend an evening alone while others are out having fun, my life is not worth living.
How can we know that we are separate from our thoughts?
What does it even mean to not be your thoughts?