Keep Things Simple and Very Very Calm

Photo by manu schwendener on Unsplash

TLDR

  • Simplify. Relax.
  • Keep your tribe small
  • Sleep
  • Turn off social media

To put a crying baby to sleep is one of the first reactions of a parent upon hearing her child cry. Her initial thought is that the baby just needs a nap. To rest.

And yet, when the same parent herself feels anxious, cranky, and tired, she fails to treat herself with the same care and love with which she treats her baby.

Sometimes all you really need to do is just take a nap.

I’m no psychologist, but I’m fairly certain that anxiety is a direct result of constantly bombarding oneself with information and other stimuli. Anxiety is the brain's revenge for not dealing with your own thoughts.

The brain is an amazing creature capable of wonderful things. But it is not meant to be in full throttle every moment of your waking life. We throw our brains into a fire pit blazing with stimuli, work 12 hours a day, barely manage to get any sleep, drink 15 cups of coffee, read ten different news sources, text a dozen friends asking what their plans are for the night, drink way too much, eat way too little, embrace zero physical movement, and still expect to be happy?

Maybe all you really need is a nap. And to remain very calm.

Easier said than done. How do you actually go about simplifying life and (at least trying to) stay calm?

  1. Keep your tribe small

The more friends, the more drama, the more commitments, the more cognitive and physical energy spent on keeping up with everyone.

Keep your circle small. The human brain was never intended to have an inner tribe of more than 8–9 individuals. Neither is it capable of keeping up with the thoughts of what 100, or 1000 or 100,000 people think of you.

You don’t get to choose the family into which you’re born. Neither do you have a great degree of control over the childhood and teenage friends you make. But one reaches a certain point in life when she can choose her friends in line with her perspectives on life.

2. Sleep

Sleep 8–9 hours. Unless there’s a one in ten million chance that you’re one of those humans who can function at peak performance with 4 hours of sleep.

It’s not ‘cool’ to brag about all the work you had to do and hence got little to no sleep. It’s cool if you got sufficient sleep and aren’t cranky throughout the day.

3. Turn off social media

The stimuli you expose your brain to are perhaps the biggest contributor to your anxiety and lack of mental fortitude. The media is inherently constructed and synthesizes information in a manner purely intended to alter your brain chemistry without you even realizing it (hence altering your brain chemistry).

You don’t perceive yourself from your own eyes. But from the eyes of a thousand others. You have to recognize the absurdity of that!

Perhaps my words fail to drive this point home. Here’s what the guy who was a pioneer in Facebook’s early growth (Chamath Palihapitiya) has to say about social media:

“You are being programmed. We have created tools that are ripping apart the way in which society works. That is truly where we are. If you feed the beast that beast will destroy you. It is a point in time where people need a hard break from some of these tools. The short-term dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works. We curate our lives around this perceived sense of perfection. Because we get rewarded in these short-term signals — hearts, likes, thumbs up — and we conflate that with value and we conflate that with truth. And instead what it really is is fake brittle popularity. That’s short-term, and leaves you even more vacant and empty before you did it.”

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