A Blank Piece of Paper

Written on Apr 3, 2014

I began 2014 by wanting to read a famous book called The Happiness Project. It is a book by Gretchen Rubin in which she talks about the year she dedicated to making herself happier. Not because she was depressed but because she wasn’t exactly as happy as she’d like to be. At first, I found it extremely overwhelming and frustrating to be reminded of what I have been trying to do for years and wasn’t able to. It was very useful but boring. After having read 2 chapters, I was completely done. After all,  a book can only give you a direction, not hold your hand.

One of the things I found most useful was the topic of de-cluttering your surroundings of things you no longer need. While having too many useless things definitely bothers me, I applied this principle to my mind. De-clutter your mind. The reason I chose to put a lot of emphasis on this was because I find mind to be the major source of happiness or unhappiness. That is why, on some days we can make ourselves feel extremely crappy, and on others, amazingly awesome. What we keep in our mind and what we tell ourselves everyday greatly impacts how we feel.

Eventually, my geeky mind did come up with a list of things that I do which brings all this clutter into my head, making it almost unbearable and even resulting in loss of sleep at times. I found that I often trap myself in my own thoughts which prevents me from doing things I need to do. A very long time ago, a friend had told me not to question life too much and just live. Because time will give me all the answers I need. But it’s been a long-term habit of mine, to sit still in silence – anywhere, anytime. You could find me anywhere: in front of the closet, on the stairs, on the kitchen floor, just anywhere. Anytime I feel I can no longer walk, I just sit … and think (although I don’t know about what). Sometimes life is long, sometimes it’s short. However, always carrying a circle of thoughts, I am sometimes still in silence. Unable to move.

Surprisingly, I found that it’s not just procrastination that builds up all the clutter in my mind, but also stress, fear and concentration. Here’s my list:

  • Not being able to speak my mind in the moment I need to, and then having it circle around in my head until I can eventually say it, or worse, build a tower of other misunderstandings on top of it (Just be yourself, say what you feel and get rid of that thought right away).
  • Preferring to return a message rather than picking up the phone and taking care of the conversation right then (Seriously, why make yourself carry more to-dos in your head than you need to especially when you can get it over with it right now???? There’s no reason to frustrate your mind without any reason).
  • Talking to same people over and over about the same kind of things (Find different friends for different things, whether it be study, work, sports, art, anything you like. Not everyone will like the same things as you so it’s best to find different people to share different things with, preferably the ones they are also interested in).
  • Stressing too much about job hunting (Yes, money and career are important, but not important enough to impact my mental health in a negative way).
  • Working, and only working (I work in a stressful environment where I deal with customer troubles daily. Being too focused on something has always been my habit. It works great when I am studying, but not so much in living daily life. No matter what, if you focus too much on one thing only, it will cause unhappiness. You have to find a variety of distractions to rip yourself off the floor- whether it be picking up a hobby, going for a walk in -20, watching a movie or learning a new skill…something that’ll make you feel happy by forgetting everything else in your life).
  • Being afraid of uncertainty (Don’t be afraid of taking risks. That’s what youth is for :P).

The title, “A Blank Piece of Paper,” was inspired by the loss of words in life. How could a person’s mind be a blank piece of paper when so much goes through it every single day? Like passengers on a train, some thoughts are temporary, some come back regularly, some just hang on for a while, and some leave at an unexpected destination and never come back again. So if you, like me, have also lost your words, find out what bag of clutter is making you feel so empty.

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