We are created to think, “What if …”. That is why, as a species, we have, among other things, developed spears and swords, so that we could defend ourselves if the famous saber tooth tiger came by. “What if …” is the start of a concern. And there is always something we can worry about. Global warming, pesticides in our food, the children cycling to school, our health … But making concerns in themselves a positive difference. No! Thinking about global warming does not change anything. It is only when we actually do something that we can change something. So worries in themselves are what I would call thought-idling. The Danish dictionary translates idle in the following way: “Routine, mechanical condition without development, tension or the like.” It fits very well with a concern …
Although we are made for worries, it is not even significant that we are slaves of them. When a concern appears in the form of a “what if …” thought, then we can choose to go with it and blow smoke into the thought-idling, or we can choose to focus on what we can actually do, thus stopping thought-idling.
Occasionally we face concerns that we cannot act on. When we dive into existential psychology, one operates with four living conditions that all people experience to a greater or lesser extent: 1) Anxiety, which is inextricably linked to anxiety – that is, the fear of not getting and reaching the life we want 2) Freedom that is inextricably linked to responsibility for creating the life we want 3) Generality – not to confuse loneliness. Unity represents that we are born alone and we must die alone, and all great decisions we can only take alone 4) Meaninglessness – we must find out for ourselves what the meaning of it all is.
When these living conditions appear and become present, they can remind us that we must remember to live life. Appreciate what we have. Remember to be grateful. But they can also paralyze us in worries. What if I was to die prematurely? What if I make the wrong decisions? What should I be here for?
No matter how much we think about these living conditions, they are present. We can’t think our way out of them. And we can’t act out of them. They are TERMS AND CONDITIONS. So we must learn to be with them in a way that they do not paralyze us. We must use them for what we can – for example, to be reminded of what we can be grateful for. In addition, we must learn not to camp in them, because then we end up very often in thought-idling. To avoid beating camp, it is crucially important to train your attention. What we give attention grows. And that also applies to our thoughts.