That automatically eliminates about 99% of your thoughts because there's very little you control in life. What's a useless thought? Anything out of your control and without a useful purpose. Do you ever think about the past? That's the perfect example of a random thought that lacks a purpose, unless you're reflecting on a past decision or mistake you made. In the case of reflection, you're doing something useful. But other than that, every thought about the past serves no purpose. From that point of view, it's useless. Ever fantasize about the future? That's also useless. I've discovered two main types of useful thoughts: Thinking about how you can solve problems. A problem is just an unanswered question. Put your brain to use and think about how you can solve problems. There are a lot of those on this earth. Understanding knowledge. That means this: Try to internalize knowledge and think about how you can use that knowledge to improve your life, career, work, relationships, etc. Please be careful here. If you have the tendency to dissociate or have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, this may not be safe to do, even with a friend. You'd need a trusted therapist to help guide you through such an experience. You may be able to think of other actions that would help you walk through your pain, asking family or longtime friends questions, for example.

But now is the time to decide what those things will be. Order your proposed actions once again in what would be easiest to do, and then move to the more difficult, keeping in mind my warning about not going it alone if you're too disturbed by trauma. And as always, journal about your new experiences. To grasp how internal factors can affect you, you've got to understand their speed, how automatic some of them can be. A good example of automatic, superhigh-speed thinking is someone who has a snake phobia. I'm talking about the kind of person who has a huge, irrational fear of snakes, versus the rest of us who may not love them or go out of our way to hold them but yet don't want to jump out of the window if we think one might have come through the room once a year ago. I'm talking about people who panic at the very thought of a snake, who try desperately to escape any circumstance in which a snake even might be present. Their fear is so debilitating as to be totally paralyzing. Now if you sat this person down and asked him or her to tell you everything that is scary and hateful about snakes, he or she might say, "They're terrible! They are slimy, mean, and vicious creatures from hell. They can bite me and poison me and kill me. They have devil eyes. They're cold and sneaky. They crawl in your mouth and out your eyes! They make you scream and cry and wet your pants or worse. They are just horrible, cold, and clammy creatures." We all possess little and big darknesses within that call for our compassion and care. Indeed, the art of self-healing calls us to bring our loving attention to the parts of ourselves and our lives that need our special honesty, attention and light: parts that might be dark, lonely, detached or foggy. This can be both uneasy and confronting for us to do. Sometimes we worry so much about what we will find when we look more deeply into our inner worlds, but, unlike the proverbial monster under the bed waiting to terrify us, we can expect to be met with the tenderness, realness and integrity of who we truly are. Our perfectly imperfect, vulnerable, lovable and whole selves.

By calling on courage and remembering that we are not alone in feeling our feelings; that we share this life with all other feeling human beings; that life is naturally composed of light and shade, ups and downs, we may cultivate the patience and self-compassion we so deeply crave and deserve. You might like to visualise yourself as having an inner apothecary in which the right medicine for your mind, body and spirit is always at hand. This medicine might be rest. It might be laugher. It might be time out. It might be movement or connection with others. It might be helping somebody else on their path, having a quiet bath, taking some herbs or enjoying a nourishing meal, taking a walk in nature or savouring a moment of mindful presence. Allow yourself to gently explore healing possibilities and tend to yourself with love, tenderness and care. The empowerment you will experience by allowing yourself to know your own answers is a gift. You will find yourself to be more self-sufficient, intuitive, robust and magical than you could ever have imagined. Governments use fear of loss to control the masses. They try to instill in the population that notion that individuals are not able to take care of themselves and their communities. Governments use fear to enhance their power. Religion, for the most part, has used fear to control the masses through the loss of God's favor (i.e., if you don't attend church or tithe or read the word of God, then God will withhold his grace and favor toward you). Throughout history, institutions and individuals have tried to exploit fear in order to achieve their aims. You have a choice. You can submit to the fear mongers who try to control you, or you can choose to live by faith. Faith in God, a higher power, one's self, loved ones, or friends and family enhances your inner well-being and confidence. Faith is the cornerstone of expectations that are positive and creative. All your expectations are based on these two lenses through which you look at yourself and the world: fear and faith.

If you approach your expectations from a standpoint of fear, then negative outcomes follow. If you act on expectations from the standpoint of faith, then positive results flow. That's it. You can ignore every other thought. If you're constantly thinking without a useful purpose, it's because you haven't' trained your mind yet. You have to get out of your head. If not, you'll go mental. Everyone will. No exception. Ask yourself: "Is that worth it?" Do you really want to waste your time, energy, and life on useless thinking? You and I both know the answer to that. Commit to stop thinking about useless things. Start taking control of your mind. All that worrying about the past and the future is not going to help you. It never did. And it never will. Have you ever made a decision that seemed illogical looking back? We're very illogical beings. Every person creates their own social reality. The way you view the world is completely subjective because we all have cognitive biases.

All of us, every day, cope with not knowing exactly what will happen in the next moment. If you tried to imagine and protect yourself and those you love from every potential mishap, your anxiety would go through the roof. Some of you may suffer from that very problem. Giving up the practice of worry, however, will be hard for you. Worry is the way I feel in control. I'm anticipating what could go wrong and doing something about it. When you say this to yourself, you're justifying the intensity of your worry. In actuality, worry is keeping you away from other emotions--and helping you stay in your head. If you're struggling to curb your worry, I'll offer this analogy. Imagine that I'm holding a pen in my hand. First, I hold it as tightly as possible, my hand trembling with the force of my grasp. And then I switch. I hold it loosely, yet firmly. Which method exhausts me? The first. Which method leaves me free to respond in the moment if something were to occur? The second. That's what discovering calm will do for you. These statements would be that person's tapes about snakes. Now suppose that, while he or she was still sitting there, you suddenly dumped a bunch of snakes in front of them.