A Recipe for Helpful Thoughts during the Pandemic
Last week we discussed the need to be neither a cynic or a sentimental fool and this week we will consider this idea in light of Covid-19 with this twist; How to stay positive while being realistic? This thought was sparked by a chat I just had with my baker, a neighbour I go to Church with. He was upset by the fact that because the Church Minister wears a mask he cannot understand a word she says. Given that she is standing far away, over 20 feet, is a space with very high ceilings and lots of ventilation, there is no real need for the mask. It is, in effect, over-kill and paranoia and as disconnected from the Science as the silly “anti-maskers” who will never wear a mask, at least according to my baker friend.
The problem for my friend is that he seems to focus on what’s wrong, rather than what is right with the world. He is usually correct in his analyses of what is wrong, as above, but these insights, for him, make him incapable of constructive and helpful responses. He just sinks deeper into despondency, despair and hopeless. This is certainly not an attitude that I recommend. Rather, this basic recipe for helpful thoughts may help you live a rich and good life, in spite of the Covid shutdown. The ideal thought is one that:
- Won’t be rejected by your subconscious
- Leads you to play better (or, at the very least, doesn’t lead you to play worse)
The trick is that there are a million different things that are true at any one time – some helpful, some not. And you get to choose which ones you pay attention to.
For example, when thinking about a challenging phrase you’re working with, these statements can both be true:
- I have messed this up 90% of the time in the past
- I can play this correctly when I focus
But it’s obvious that the second one is more helpful. And don’t worry – you’re not denying the truth of an “unhelpful” thought if you swap it for another. At any one time there are an infinite number of true thoughts available to you. You can’t possibly focus on all of them, so you have to make a choice.
The thought that your mind goes to by default isn’t the “best”, or “right” choice. It just reflects your mind’s current habits. Get used to taking control of this decision and consciously choosing the thought that’s most helpful for your playing.
So, even when you have to go the Doctor a lot, as I have to, because of health issues; even when they ask you too pee in a cup to analyze you – don’t get depressed, don’t be sentimental and foolish, just be a happy realist and accept that piss is piss. Rejoice – you can still pee without a catheter and have control of your bladder. It’s a good day! And then, continue living in spite of Covid. Life has not stopped. It is just different. Adapt. But still have fun. Still meet with your friends – as I am just about to do [on their porch]. Be realistic and be positive. Laugh a little. Otherwise life is not worth living.