Some things you’ve taken in as a past self have become your present self. Think of that.

Don’t Adopt Every Stray—What Things You Adopt Have A Way Of Becoming Your Life

Don't Adopt Every Stray
Photo by Alvan Nee on Unsplash

# 84 on my 99 Life Tips–A List is: You are not meant to adopt every stray (thought, belief, person, animal, opportunity) that shows up in your life. Choose well.

The wind blows things into and out of our lives. These things take the form of thoughts, beliefs, people, even animals, and sometimes opportunities. Just because something shows up doesn’t mean it should be picked up. Some things are better left alone to blow right on by. Don’t adopt every stray. You aren’t meant to.

The Inbox of Life

I like simple analogies. Viewing the detritus that life blows in is like viewing the daily contents of my email Inbox. Stuff blows in. I scan for relevance, responsibility, or refusal. Some of the items I must have asked to show up there. This is apparently the case. I recognize that the me that asked to receive information about every cheap Caribbean travel opportunity is a different me than the one opening my email this morning. 

This revelation creates its own opportunity. I can unsubscribe and save myself the little mental distraction that accompanies every email subject line. (You know that many of these emails have highly trained professional writers whose sole aim is to create irresistible subject lines to trigger you to open the email, don’t you?)

But I’ve digressed. Although this digression was intentional. I digressed about email believing it to be a metaphorical application to which most can relate. The existence of an email address virtually guarantees spam in the same way that staying alive guarantees stray stuff showing up in your Life’s Inbox. Some of that stuff you invited, some you did not. You need not open it all. You need to archive and save even less. Some of it is as dangerous to your life as a virus-laden, malware-infected, trojan horse of embedded code hidden in an email about ED could be to your computer. Best to leave it lie.

Where do thoughts come from?

The element of my advice I find most universally applicable is in the handling of stray thoughts and beliefs. No one being honest can tell you where all your thoughts come from. Are they self-generated? Are they completely random? Did they come from the far side of the Universe? From God? From the devil? No one is sure.

Meditation is a great practice for so many reasons, not the least of which is that is can convince you how involuntary most of your thinking is. Try it for five minutes and see how like a wave machine with no off switch your mind is. Thoughts just show up, because… 

But like the neighbor’s cat, or the stray that habitually shows up on your doorstep, you don’t have to buy a little cat bed at the PetSmart and put out a saucer of milk for the stray. Unless you’re my son, then you do. You have to buy one of those. But you can be much less accommodating with 95% of your stray thoughts. Learn to unapologetically shoo them away. Kick if you must.

You may become what you adopt

Don’t adopt every stray. Every thing you invite in to your life has the potential to, like a virus or piece of malware, spread and take over your life. Some things you’ve taken in as a past self have become your present self. Think of that. Choose wisely, friends.

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