I've decided that my down time today can be used productively to look at one of my bad habits, and come up with solutions for dealing with it. Random? Yes, but I wouldn't want it any other way.

It occurred to me recently that my ability to over-think any situation was causing me to be counter-productive. Instead of simply sitting down to work on my graduate school thesis, I found myself delving into every little aspect of it until I would get so overwhelmed that paralysis set in and I was unable to move forward. So I would focus on something really mundane for a while (reading my friend B's fantastic blog for example) until I felt ready to tackle my thesis again, but inevitably the cycle would repeat. This was definitely preventing me from actually writing my thesis. So today I decided to examine why this was happening, and hopefully by the end of this exercise I will have a plan to keep it from happening. (Hey, we're practicing positive thinking here … it's good to have goals dammit!)

True, there are times when my ability to over-think is a good thing … in the professional world it allows me to notice things that other people did not. This is helpful when I am trouble-shooting user errors, testing new applications or trying to come up with a creative solution to a nagging business problem. Over-analyzing on this level challenges me. It makes me think long and hard about things, and it means that I not only need to know the outcome of a situation or process, but I also need to understand the whys and hows that created said outcome.

When it comes to my personal life, my over-thinking is not so beneficial. Obviously from my opening example, it gets in the way of my schoolwork. But it happens at other times too … I dwell on things more than I should, often remembering stupid things I said years ago and re-hashing them, as if someone really cared that in 1993 I used X word instead of Y word and everyone laughed. Does something that happened 13 years ago have any impact on my present day self? No. As they say I should let bygones be bygones. But I just can't seem to do that!

It's funny because I was on some silly astrology site recently (procrastinating from my graduate school thesis) when I read that my moon sign is prone to "over-analyzing" and one of the possible weaknesses of my sun sign is "Fear of the past repeating in the future" … Now, I am not one to live my life by the dictations of my horoscope, but I find it interesting to contemplate. Then again, it may only take the power of suggestion for my brain to begin making associations and dredging up examples. I am sure that if my horoscope had said that my weaknesses were jealousy and intolerance I could find plenty of life examples to fit those traits as well …

I started this post as an exercise to come up with a goal, and here I am digressing. I've started to over-think my tendency to over-think. Do you see how bad I get? It is a vicious cycle!

Goal: To live in the moment and not dwell so much on the past or worry so much about future.

I just need to "be here now" as Ram Dass said and enjoy the present. If I can accomplish that, then things like my thesis and huge projects for work won't be so daunting because I can take it just one day at a time, and do the best that I can. Similarly, I can take the time to truly enjoy the human interactions that make up my days. I can let the conversations, moments and connections be what they are and appreciate everyone of them — from coffee and good conversation with a newfound friend to the look and smile I share with fellow passengers on the train as we realize that the woman who has been singing very bad renditions of songs by the Beatles has now switched to the original Mickey Mouse Club theme song, and apparently has no intention of being quiet …

These are the things that make life interesting, and I need to appreciate them more.

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