We are Thermostats, Not Thermometers

One of the most comforting things to me is the realization that humans tend to function like thermostats, not thermometers. We have set points. We like for life to be predictable. We don’t like a lot of changes. In fact, if too many changes are required at the same time, it can be overwhelming. Why would that be comforting? Self-realizations can be very powerful and provide guidance for when life becomes overwhelming. For example, when you get overwhelmed, pay attention to the amount of change going on in your life. Then try to either limit those changes or take them one at a time. After all, change is incredibly difficult for thermostats! 

It is important to pay attention to the way we feel – especially if the feelings are getting the best of us. Think of feelings as road signs. Pretend you are driving a red sports car at 90 miles an hour. You happen to notice a sign that says “SHARP CURVE AHEAD.” What are you gonna do? Actually, you have several options. You could press the gas down to the floor and fly toward the sharp curve. But the consequence of that may be flying off a cliff. You could slam on the breaks, pull the car to the side, and then sit under the sign and cry. But that wouldn’t get you very far. Or finally, you could acknowledge the sign and proceed with caution, which will likely keep you safe and get you much farther down the road. What does that have to do with feelings? If we pay attention to what our feelings may be trying to tell us, then we can often avoid a proverbial crash. 

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