I can’t remember where I recently heard the term “empty your mental bucket” but I instantly decided I liked it. I think “mental bucket” aptly describes our minds. Think about it – our mind can often get too filled up with stuff that clutters our minds and we have to work on emptying it to stay focused and resilient to meet the everyday demands of life. Have you ever caught yourself in a worry spiral? You know – when you started worrying about something and before you know it, you were deep in thought about how the world would soon end? Okay, maybe not the world ending, but our minds can take off with a simple little issue and turn it into a big one pretty quickly, right?
How do we rein our minds in when they inevitably get in our way? We empty our mental buckets. There are many strategies for emptying your mental bucket and each of us needs to find the ones that work for us. It is also a good idea to have several in your tool box in the event that one or two of them aren’t working for you with a particularly full bucket. Here are three that I use:
- Meditation – Nothing works better than meditation to empty a full mental bucket. Meditation is a loaded word for some so let me explain how I do it. Some people are good with just sitting and clearing out their mind for a given time period each day. I am not one of those people. My meditation has to be a bit more active – I like to take a meditative walk in the woods or lay some place looking at the vast sky watching the clouds float by or some other similar activity. The important thing here is you get yourself in an environment where you mind is so consumed with the present moment that all of those thoughts that were cluttering your mind empty out.
- Exercise – Engaging the body in some sort of active exercise really helps to clear out the mental bucket. The exercise needs to be difficult enough that you can only focus on the present moment – I like a good, hard-hitting tennis match – so that your mind is so focused on the activity and it doesn’t have an opportunity to think about anything else. Another benefit is that you tire out your body, so it isn’t going to allow you to stay awake at night ruminating on things.
- Stop it! – This strategy works after spending some time intentionally working on your ability to empty your mental bucket and it doesn’t work all the time, especially when you allow your mind to get too far down the rabbit hole. When I find myself starting to fill up the mental bucket, thinking about all the things I have to get done or other similar worry chain, I simply tell myself to stop. I literally tell my mind to stop wasting my mental energy on things that either I can’t control or that I don’t need to figure out the twenty million different potential outcomes (that I can address the one that happens, when it happens). I’ll usually try this strategy first and then resort to the first two strategies if it doesn’t work.
There you have it folks – in order to be more successful in life (or to simply get through the day-to-day of life), we need to have ways in which to empty our mental buckets when they get too full with clutter. I’ve provided you with three strategies I utilize, so now it’s your turn. Reflect on the strategies you use and how successful you are at implementing them. Then think about how you can improve upon your ability to empty your mental bucket and do it.