While we’re on a roll with how to reduce our emotional suffering, let’s talk about something you want to quit doing: ruminating.
Science says that the unhappiest among us (and each of us in our least happy moments) tend to ruminate about whatever’s bothering us.
I find it helpful to remember that the word ruminate comes from what a cow does to food. Imagine a cow munching on grass in an open field. It chews and chews and chews and then swallows.
Then the cow digests the grass a bit before regurgitating it back into its mouth for some more chewing.
Healthy for a cow, not so much for our mental health.
Again, science is unequivocal here: Habitually ruminating isn’t a wise idea. In fact, here’s how Sonja Lyubomirsky puts it: “If you are someone plagued by ruminations, you are unlikely to become happier before you can break that habit.”
We have a ton of alternatives. We can simply label the emotion we’re experiencing, we can drop into relentless solution focus mode, use a mantra, go for a walk, whatever.
But whatever you do, don’t ruminate.
Sonja again. She says: “I have found that truly happy people have the capacity to distract and absorb themselves in activities that divert their energies and attention away from dark or anxious ruminations.”
Are you currently chewing on the same thought over and over again?
Spit out the cud!
Unlock this Optimize +1 (and over 1,000 more) for free!
The Optimize membership used to be $100/year. It’s now free. No credit card required. No strings attached. Just more wisdom in less time.