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How Bad Thoughts Are Like Bad Sushi

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My brain is like a conveyor belt in an empty sushi restaurant.

My thoughts are the pieces of sushi that have been going around the belt forever, getting old and rancid, because there’s no one in the restaurant except me, and I hate sushi.

Except that’s not entirely true. I don’t mind the kind without raw fish. Tempura rolls are actually pretty tasty. So I eat the tempura rolls (a.k.a. the good thoughts) whenever they come along.

But sometimes, they never come along.

So what do I do? I need to eat, so I grab an old piece of sushi and I start eating it. And it tastes terrible. And it makes me feel sick. But I feel like I have no choice because I haven’t seen a tempura roll in ages, and I’m afraid I’ll never see one again. So I keep eating bad sushi, and I keep feeling worse and worse. Sometimes I even end up in the hospital from eating so much rotten sushi.

Every now and then, tempura rolls show up, and I’m overjoyed. I gobble them up and start to think, “Maybe, just maybe, there will only be tempura rolls from now on.”

The streak of good sushi might last for days, or it might only last for minutes, or seconds. Eventually the stinky stuff appears on the belt again, and the cycle continues.

What are my options here? I’m @$!#*%& sick of bad sushi.

Solution 1: Just wait. Let the bad sushi pass. Notice it, but don’t pick it up. Trust that the good stuff will come. Have faith that there’s a cook back there, in an unseen kitchen, and when they see that no one’s eating the bad stuff, they throw it away and replace it with hot, fresh tempura rolls.

Note: The cook is probably you, and you don’t even know it. Or if you prefer, the cook is God. Or the cook is the Universe itself. Whatever analogy suits your fancy.

Anyway, that’s a pretty good solution. You might have to go hungry for a bit while you wait. But the good sushi will come.

Today, I thought of an even better idea.

Solution 2: Consciously become the cook. Notice (but don’t pick up) the old sushi passing by and say to yourself, “I want the good stuff now. And I deserve it, @$!#*%& it!”

Then imagine what the good sushi looks like, how it smells and how it tastes. Remember how much you enjoyed it the last time you had it. Be grateful for how good it tastes and how lucky you are to have tasted it at some point in your life. Because we’ve all had it. It may have been a long time ago, but we know how it feels to eat the good sushi.

And that’s all it takes. You’ve made good sushi, and it’s on the conveyor belt in front of you. Eat it! Bad pieces will still appear, but with conviction and intention (are those the same thing? I don’t know, but they sound good together), you can keep making delicious tempura rolls.

You might get a bit tired from all of the conviction and intention. You might need a break (every cook needs a break), and that’s fine. Just go back to Solution 1: Watch the rotten stuff go by, without picking it up and trust the other cook. The bigger, omnipresent, invisible cook who brings good food when we’re too tired to make it ourselves.

Note: Again, that other cook is you. Or the part of you with endless energy and hope, because of its connection (on an unseen level) to an infinite source of wisdom and love.

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That got a bit intense. Are you still with me? Thank you for reading this and (hopefully) forgiving me for getting super meta (-phorical and -physical).

And if you like raw fish (or rancid fish), I apologize. Feel free to substitute the sushi metaphor for something else that resonates with you. Like an airport carousel with an endless line of painfully heavy baggage. (That’s a pretty good one, actually. Maybe I’ll do another version with an airport metaphor.)

In the meantime, I wish you all the best on your own personal journey towards peace of mind.

Getty image via PongMoji

Originally published: July 1, 2020
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