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Overthinking is a tendency of the unaware mind. Have you observed what is happening in your mind every moment? It vacillates between the past and the future, between regret and anxiety. It is either in the past occupied with what has happened or in the future thinking about what you have to do.

We overthink about the future to control it and the past wishing to change what has already happened. We worry a lot about people and situations. But overthinking only increases stress, drains our energy, and makes us less aware and, hence, less joyful.

Gone with the wind

See, when the wind blows, what happens? Everything gets carried away with it, isn’t it? Everything flies away with the breeze. So whatever happened in the past, whether good or bad, right or wrong, pleasant or unpleasant events, it all happened and it is all gone now. Just like how the air comes and blows everything away, in the same way, all of life’s events come and go. But what is important is that you should not get stuck anywhere, move ahead.

Is there anyone who has not had any problems? Problems come in everyone’s life. Is there anyone who has not experienced happiness? Everyone, sometime or the other has experienced happiness.
Is there anyone who has not received praise? Everyone has been praised sometime or the other. Even a dog gets praised! People say, ‘What a nice dog’. Is there anyone who has not been criticized? Everyone has been criticized at some point or the other. Isn’t it so? Everyone gets criticized.

So if anyone praises you or criticises you, knows that it is like the air which comes and goes. They are just some passing thoughts that came and went. Thoughts arise in peoples’ minds about you and they go. Some are good thoughts and some are bad thoughts.

Wisdom of impermanence

Now when people themselves are not going to be here forever, what permanence can you attach to their thoughts? What are you going to do with their opinions, when they themselves are not going to be there forever? So why do you worry about some thoughts from here and there? You should just keep moving on in life. Whatever happens, just keep moving ahead, like air.

The air never stops at one place, it keeps moving; water keeps flowing. Just like how nature follows certain laws, thoughts also follow a particular pattern; they come and they go.

Practical tips to stop overthinking

  • A better circulation system. Get up, do exercises, be active
  • Clean your bowels. Take 2-3 Triphala tablets every night
  • Calm your nerves with some Ayurveda herbs. Shatavari can help
  • The company of negative people can add to negative thoughts, overthinking. Change the company you keep
  • Planetary positions can aggravate. Know that time will pass and heal
  • Meditate. Learn how to meditate so you learn how to watch your thoughts come and go, without adding to them and overthinking

How much thinking is good?

Many times people analyse themselves too much. They keeping thinking so many things, I am fine, I am not fine, I am right, I am wrong, I have these qualities, I do not have these qualities. And by doing this, they get caught up in too much negative analysis about themselves.

On the other hand, there are some people who don’t think about themselves at all. They only look for pleasure. They do not even for one moment look back and reflect on themselves. This is why, in the beginning, a seeker is told to first stop and reflect on what is it that he wants?
In The Art of Living Happiness Program, this is the first question that we ask, ‘What do you want’? What are your problems?’ Introspection is the first step to move inward. We tell the participants, ‘Ask yourself, what it is that you want from life. Think about yourself, what do you want?’ This is the first step for a seeker.

But if you keep asking yourself, ‘What do I want’, for the rest of your life, then your mind will rot and you will become depressed. Every day if a person sits and thinks only about himself, then he will rot. If you see the faces of such people, they look so pale and full of worries. Worry drips from the face of a person who only thinks about himself. Looking at such people would make you want to run away! And people do run away from them.

On one side you have a person who is not ripe; too raw, and on the other side is a person whose mind has rotted by only thinking about himself. Both are not good. You should adopt the middle path.
Analyse yourself a little, reflect on it, and then leave it and move ahead. Do not get stuck.

Do not sit and regret about what has happened – neither about what you have done, nor about what others did. If you keep thinking about what you did, then you feel regret, and if you think about what others did wrong, then you get angry and worried. Anyway you have no control over anyone. Nobody has ever had control over anyone else in this world. If you think you are controlling someone or are under the control or influence of someone, then that is a very wrong thought.

When you dust away all the dirt (of the past) that has accumulated inside you, then you will simply start shining. You become much stronger, your consciousness blossoms, and happiness starts to flow. Then you can say that you are alive. This is what life really is.

Knowledge to calm nerves

In the Bhagavad Gita it is said, ‘Na hi jnanena sadrusham pavitram iha vidyate. Tat svayam yoga-samsiddhah kalenatmani vindati’. (4.38) It means: There is no greater purifier than Knowledge. Everything is temporary. Everything is nothing. All of this is nothing.

Just see all people that you see walking around, they are just ragdolls made up of the five elements. They are acting the way they do because of their karmas (actions) and samskaras (impressions). Some are rising in life because of the influence of their stars while some are having downfalls because of the influence of some other stars (referring to astrology). All of them are moving about here and there, doing this and doing that, but one day everything will end. So you just let them do what they are doing. How does it matter to you? You should continue to live happily.

We need to remind ourselves about this again and again. As you move about in society, no matter how many times this dust accumulates on you, simply brush it off and move ahead. Whatever is yours will come to you for sure!

Act with feeling to kill worries

When we worry too much about what should happen to us or for those around us, it only obstructs action. When we worry our feelings die. The head worries and the heart feels. They cannot function at the same time. When your feelings dominate, worry dissolves. Worrying makes your mind and heart inert and dull. Worries are like a rock in the head. Worry entangles you. Worry puts you in a cage. When you feel, you do not worry.

Feelings are like flowers, they come up, they blossom and they die. Feelings rise, they fall and then disappear. When feelings are expressed, you feel relieved. When you are angry, you express your anger and the next moment you are all right. Or you are upset, you cry and you get over it. Feelings last for some short time and then they drop, but worry eats you for a longer period of time, and eventually eats you up. Feelings make you spontaneous. Children feel, so they are spontaneous. Adults put brakes on their feelings and they start worrying.

This very awareness, that everything is going to finish one day, can take you out of the worrying tendency of the mind. When you see that everything is changing, everything is vanishing, then you become so solid, so strong, yet so soft and centered.

Are you worried about relationships? Relationships cause you problem and you get so heartbroken. Wake up and see, before the relationship, you were alive and kicking, you were laughing, smiling, and happy. Remember the days before you met the person and started your relationship. Life was okay. So it will be like that afterwards also, so why do you have to be so upset about it?

Are you worried about health? How healthy are you going to keep yourself? However healthy you are, one day it is going to finish and your connection with the body is going to end. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep yourself healthy, but sitting and worrying about your health is nonsense. Do what is needed to take care of your health but no point in worrying about it.

You have financial worries? Look at the birds, look at all the animals, they all get their food? Nature provides everything. Nature is a big provider, so trust that nature will give you what you need. Your consciousness is like a field, whatever seed you put there, that sprouts. You put a seed of lack, then lack comes. If you say, ‘Yes there is abundance’, then abundance comes.

You overthink about something that you really want. If you force yourself to forget it, it comes strongly. There’s a rule in nature that what you resist persists.

Just by thinking a lot, you are not going to achieve what you want. On the other hand, you try to chase away negative thoughts. But they come to you multiplied. Just give the negative thoughts a tight hug and you will suddenly find they have disappeared. They are scared of your hug, but they are fond of you chasing them. So, they come back again for you to chase them again, again and again. If too many negative thoughts are coming, reason is lack of circulation in you. Do a lot of exercises.