I locked myself in the bathroom and cried.
I could not take it anymore. Every morning I put on a dark suit, dark tie, laced up dark shoes and drove my dark car into the dark winter morning. I arrived at a dark office (looking like a giant, dark cube) and stared into dark faces. Poor souls.
I was one of them. I was insane.
Too busy chasing money and status, I neglected my body and lived solely for my self-image. I did not know who I was. I thought I was my performance and my income and what other people think about me. I was miserable.
I lied. I cheated. I manipulated.
On the weekends, I got drunk. But no amount of booze and no random hook up could compensate for the lack of love and connection I was feeling inside.
Now I sobbed behind closed doors, hoping that no one would come in.
Today, 4 years later, I wish someone would have come in and talked to me. I needed human contact. I needed a way out of my self-made isolation back into the present.
If I ever hear someone sobbing behind closed doors, I will give her this list.
It may save a life.
How to stay sane in an insane world
I originally wanted to write a book about this… then I threw my notes out.
This is not meant as a to-do list. Far from it.
I rather see it as a summary of cool, little tricks to do (or not) whenever you feel really stuck in your head, really insane.
1. Sit in silence
Silence is a cool thing.
I used to be afraid of silence.
All these thoughts that I wanted to avoid would just come up.
Now I like this. I can see clearly what needs healing inside me.
Just sit there and see what happens.
Watch your thoughts fly by. Hear your mind talking to itself and answering its own questions. Feel your heart beat. Feel the air moving in and out of your nose.
Silence, I guess, is the key to sanity and it is free and always available.
2. Express gratitude
Now I am overthinking this point here, though gratitude is simple.
Tell someone what you are grateful for. If you are on your own, think about all the things you could be grateful for now. Like being able to read. Having a functioning heart. Me writing this (I like receiving gratitude, too).
Write some of them down and share them later with friends.
Gratitude cuts through the mental chatter and reestablishes human contact.
3. Express your feelings
This one is a big big biggie for me.
God, I never expressed my feelings. I would almost shake in anger and say that everything is cool (like I have seen the tough guys do in movies and ads).
Anyways, the road to sanity leads through acknowledging and expressing your feelings (Coming from a guy who never did). Don’t hide them behind beliefs (like boys don’t cry… or shit like that).
Feel what you feel in your body and express it in simple, direct terms.
I am mad at you for… I am sad about… I am happy about… I appreciate you for.
I feel so much more at ease and connected whenever I share my feelings.
4. Tell the truth
Lying is a super-shortcut to insanity and trapping yourself in your mind.
You want to feel really miserable today? Ok, just lie to people you love.
I did this a lot… and I was miserable. I don’t want to do this anymore.
By telling the truth as you see it, being honest about what you like and dislike, you get in touch with reality. You free up mental energy. You allow yourself to be seen.
Whenever I was really depressed, I lied to someone I loved or kept secrets.
…not a great way to live.
5. Stretch your body
I once read something smart:
Your body was here before you could even think.
It is your base. Your home. Your medium to be connected to the world.
Take some time to feel your body. Do whatever your body wants. Stretch it. Rock it side to side. Forget what your yoga instructor told you and do what your body feels like doing now.
This is a sure path to getting out of your mind and in touch with your senses.
I stretch just a little bit every morning after I wake up and start the day by feeling good.
6. Eat well
My mom always told me: You are what you eat.
I never understood this statement as a child.
…until I heard that my body completely replaces every cell within seven years.
So if I eat hamburgers all day, my cells will be made out of hamburgers (will they?)
I rather have my cells not being made out of hamburgers.
Also, I feel generally better when I eat well. More in touch with my body. More flowing energy (without being a new age hippie) and so on.
7. Be among friends
I struggle with this now.
I live in Florida and travel around. My good friends are in Europe. I miss them. I feel lonely at times and would like to have more friends here.
My idea is to live in a community of great friends, who all tell the truth and express their feelings and work on projects they really like.
Good friends are like medicine but better.
And you don’t need a prescription for them.
8. Spend time with children
I never did.
I recently noticed that I spent 27 years of my life without ever being around infants and toddlers. What a waste of time. What a better way to spent the day than sitting in dark offices and crying.
Children are new to this world.
They know much more about being happy than we do.
There is a lot we can learn from them.
I recently babysat my friend’s three kids… it was a healing experience.
I love talking.
I love worrying and explaining my problems.
Well, rarely something good happens out of talking.
Listening is much better.
Sometimes I force myself to listen and not say anything.
Usually there is a beautiful, healing silence whenever I do.
A silence, out of which connection is born.
10. Practice a skill
I want to practice writing daily. Most of the times I do. Sometimes I don’t. This weekend I went to Ultra in Miami. I did not write anything. I smoked a lot of pot instead.
I feel great whenever I wake up in the morning and write within the first hours of the day. I feel like I did my fair share of creating and socked away some time in the productivity bank
I also like dancing. I practice that, too (in front of the mirror, brushing my teeth).
I guess daily practice gets us out of our minds and in tune with the moment.
And what else do we have but this moment?
This list is getting long. Jesus.
I have two more things I want to write about.
11. Travel to new places
When I first went to China, I had no idea what the hell was going on.
My mind could not function in its old ways. I had to adapt. I had to notice what was going on around me. I had to pay attention to my environment.
Slowly I got in touch with my senses… and out of my reactive ways.
Traveling is still my favorite way to stay sane.
…and also a great way to avoid home life for me.
12. Help other’s get what they want
This is the last point.
I am usually too caught up in my own shit to do this.
I came to realize that I am happy whenever someone else is happy.
A couple of weeks ago I helped a Chinese student to buy a telephone card in Mexico. I made her mission into my mission. She was happy and I was happy.
Plus, she now had a phone that she could use to text me.
Unfortunately, I was not that attracted to her.
Ok, that is it, folks.
All I know (at least right now, sitting upright in my bed and worrying about doing the laundry) about staying sane and getting out of your mind.
I am afraid to post this.
I am judging myself for being self-absorbed and sounding a little to preachy.
I hope I mentioned everything and I notice thoughts about wanting to do this even better or not post it at all.
P.S. What is your favorite way to stay sane, even when the world around you goes crazy? Share it with us in the comment section.