My beagle compulsively sniffs things. It’s part of her biological job description. Beagles are hound dogs, originally bred for hunting, so they tend to be led through life by their noses. Never mind the fact that the most ambitious prey my beagle “hunts” is the food in her bowl. Her default state seems to be sniffing at the empty air, just in case something interesting smells in her general direction.
In a certain respect, the human mind is like the beagle nose. The mind is an incredibly powerful problem solver. That’s the good news. When the mind doesn’t have a problem to solve, it tends to go looking for one. That’s the bad news. Have you ever noticed yourself stopped in traffic or standing in line, thinking really hard for no good reason? This is like a beagle sniffing at the air. Even when all is well, the mind likes to invent problems just so it can “solve” them.
Next time you notice your mind going round and round, ask yourself if this seems to be productive thinking. You don’t necessarily need to redirect your thoughts–just watch yourself thinking. Just observe your mind at work without taking it too seriously. Over time, as you simply notice–without reacting to–your mind’s hyperactivity, your mind will gradually, gradually settle down.