Try less, breathe more

One evening over a glass of wine, one might find themselves speaking the famous quote, “Stay gold, Ponyboy” in conversation with a guest. Your guest casually asks you to remind them what that quote is from and just like that, you feel you’ve forgotten everything you know about everything. The details are all there: Cherry Valance, Ponyboy, Rob Lowe and Matt Dillon. You can even recall plot points, but the name of the book-turned-film you’d read at least 5 times eludes you.

You feel silly, frustrated and maybe even a blind rage at Rob Lowe for not telepathically bestowing the bit of knowledge you seek upon you. But none of this draws the title any closer. So — after derailing your conversation for the better part of an hour –— you temporarily admit defeat, refusing to Google such information out of spite and pride.

Oftentimes, things may feel just out of reach: the solution to the problem you’ve been up against for months, the client request you just can’t seem to knock out of the park or where you left your keys. The harder we think about these things, the faster they slip away it seems. It’s not until we are able to focus our thoughts elsewhere that we unblock the pathways to what once seemed inaccessible.

There are many cognitive behavioral thought practices that aim to refocus our attention and relieve the stress we feel around certain brain patterns. The Mayo Clinic, along with many other sources, identify the three M’s that may help you refocus: mindfulness, meditation and movement. Doing any number of activities that fall under these categories (think yoga, breathing and many others) may “improve memory, motivation and autonomy — all things likely to make you (and your boss) happier,” says the Mayo Clinic.

Taking the time to practice these activities may feel daunting and even silly at times. You may find yourself saying, “I obviously know how to breathe, I’ve survived this long so why do I need to think about it?” Despite it all, you give your mind some space and start taking deep breaths to a count. You try refocusing your thoughts on other tasks at work or home and let the ones that elude you slip away temporarily. You return to your dinner guest and continue your conversation.

When we give our minds the space they need to process, they’re able to work more freely and under less pressure to retrieve the information you know is in there and just can’t seem to unlock. So try thinking less, breathing more and feel no shame when you call your guest 3 hours after they leave and scream, “THE OUTSIDERS” into the phone with elation and pride.