Friday, 28 August 2015

Top Ten Quotes on Rumination

The new academic year is almost upon us. The coming weekend is likely to be one of nervousness for some teachers (and pupils alike) as we turn over in our minds the possibilities of the next ten months. If you are generally struggling to sleep, this 'Teacher's guide to sleep' from the Guardian website might help.

Over the years I have learned to actively recognise that this particular point of the year is naturally a period of heightened worry and, in turn, I allow it to pass by far more easily by not tuning in too much to worrying thoughts that occur. This includes (particularly so) those moments of feeling wide awake in the night - instead of worrying about the year ahead and adding to that worrying how I am not sleeping, I actively label thoughts 'just a passing worry' and focus my attention 'outwards' on the sounds of the night, sometimes even spending a bit of time looking out of the window at the strange landscape of the midnight street.

When we worry repetitively and in an out-of-control way, we are in fact ruminating - a condition of the mind known to cause anxiety and depression. As this article notes, 

"The word "ruminate" derives from the Latin for chewing cud, a less than gentile process in which cattle grind up, swallow, then regurgitate and rechew their feed. Similarly, human ruminators mull an issue at length."

The fact is we cannot really change the course of the coming year no matter how much we 'chew' - particularly the unpredictable events (which naturally occur in human communities). And if we allow our minds to run wild we are likely to cause ourselves more problems rather reduce them, as these ten quotes highlight:

>> "The combination of rumination and negative mood is toxic. Research shows that people who ruminate while sad or distraught are likely to feel besieged, powerless, self-critical, pessimistic, and generally negatively biased." - Sonja Lyubomirsky

>> "I have neither the scholar's melancholy, which is emulation; nor the musician's, which is fantastical; nor the courtier's, which is proud; not the soldier's which is ambitious; nor the lawyer's, which is politic; nor the lady's, which is nice; nor the lover's, which is all these: but it is a melancholy of mine own, compounded of many simples, extracted from many objects, and indeed the sundry contemplation of my travels, which, by often rumination, wraps me in a most humorous sadness." - William Shakespeare

>> “Too much thinking leads to paralysis by analysis.” - Robert Herjavec

>> “To think too much is a disease.” -  Fyodor Dostoyevsky

>> “We are dying from overthinking. We are slowly killing ourselves by thinking about everything. Think. Think. Think. You can never trust the human mind anyway. It's a death trap.” - Anthony Hopkins

>> "Rumination tends to be eased if we learn to be mindful; if we are able to be aware of, and understand how our own thoughts work." - Peter Kinderman

>> "If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it's not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever."- His Holiness The Dalai Lama XIV

And, to finish, some wise excerpts, from the unexpectedly sage-like Winnie-the-Pooh:

>> “Rabbit's clever," said Pooh thoughtfully.
"Yes," said Piglet, "Rabbit's clever."
"And he has Brain."
"Yes," said Piglet, "Rabbit has Brain."
There was a long silence.
"I suppose," said Pooh, "that that's why he never understands anything.” 
- A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

>> "What I like doing best is Nothing."
How do you do Nothing," asked Pooh after he had wondered for a long time.
"Well, it's when people call out at you just as you're going off to do it, 'What are you going to do, Christopher Robin?' and you say, 'Oh, Nothing,' and then you go and do it.
It means just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering."
"Oh!" said Pooh.” 
- A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

So here's to a good year to colleagues and pupils - stay steady!

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