Bored, Restless, Procrastinating? Mondays Mindful Quote with Mark Twain

There is a tradition on the Mindfulness and Psychotherapy Blog. Every Monday, I cite a quote or a poem that is related to mindfulness and psychotherapy in some way and then explore it a bit and how it is relevant to our lives. For me, quotes and poetry can often sink me into a state of greater understanding. So for today, here is a quote by Mark Twain:

“I am a very old man and have suffered a great many misfortunes, most of which never happened.”

Stress and misfortunes are an unavoidable fact of life, it’s the human condition. As we say in A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook:

“We all live with and cannot escape from uncertainties, difficulties, illness, aging, death, and an inability to fully control life events.”

Fear is a mainstay in our lives, sometimes subtle, sometimes much more explicit. Every day we lay witness to an overexposure of sensational media telling us about war, economic devastation, poisons in the food we eat, or risk of alienation unless we look and dress a certain way.

Many of us know fear as high stress and anxiety, but today I want to highlight where fear might be lurking some we can bring light to it and lessen its chances of hijacking us throughout the day.

The subtle fashions of fear include:

  • Boredom
  • Restlessness
  • Procrastination
  • Compulsively being involved with some activity
  • Insomnia
  • Stress-related physical symptoms such as stomach aches, headaches, or other body pain.

When any of these show up in your life, as they do for many of us throughout the day, check in with yourself, inquiring into the feeling that is here. Yes, all of these have a co-occuring physical symptom that is a part of it. Boredom has a feeling as does procrastination. Check it out.

If you’re really interested in exploring the subtle fears that keep you locked in habitual patterns that don’t seem to work for you, here are two steps to get you started:

  1. Feel the physical fear – Take a moment to actually feel the physical feeling that is there in a nonjudgmental fashion. Meaning, take a pause from judging it as something bad and instead get curious about the actual sensation that is there. Breathe in and open to the feeling, breath out and let it be.
  2. Ask yourself the question – “What am I afraid of?” Whatever arises, take a moment with it and then ask yourself the question again, “what am I afraid of?” Do this about five times. Go ahead and write down what came up for you.

You may or may not get a final answer when you do this practice, but if you monitor it over time, I have no doubt that interesting thoughts will begin to surface that you may find either come from an earlier time and don’t have relevance today (e.g., Not risking success because of the disappointment you experienced as a child when you tried) or maybe it’s something that does have relevance that it’s important to face and confront (e.g., issues with the boss or partner).

Either way, as you go through the day today, try this out.

It’s important to expose these subtle fears to gain more freedom over our days and to make sure that we don’t look back as Mark Twain did saying:

“I am a very old man and have suffered a great many misfortunes, most of which never happened.”

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Reposted from Elisha Goldstein’s Mindfulness Blog on

One Response to “Bored, Restless, Procrastinating? Mondays Mindful Quote with Mark Twain”

  1. Danielle says:

    “It’s important to expose these subtle fears to gain more freedom over our days.” Today I noticed I was getting a headache at about noon. I felt the pressure of getting all my tasks for the day complete, but I didn’t realize I was actually afraid! When I took some time to reflect on it, I noticed that I was afraid that I would not be able to say the right thing or respond with the right answer in my upcoming meetings for the day. Then I realized how irrational that is, that generally I do know how to respond and that if I don’t know an answer, that is ok! This immediately freed me up to continue my day. The fear is so subtle, yet can completely disrupt your well being. Thanks for the post!