In Tools of Titans, a couple of Tim Ferriss’s guests mention the benefits of looking at the sky once in a while. I liked BJ Miller’s description:
“Then you start looking at the stars, and you realize that the light hitting your eye is ancient, [some of the] stars that you’re seeing, they no longer exist by the time that the light gets to you. Just mulling the bare-naked facts of the cosmos is enough to thrill me, awe me, freak me out, and kind of put all my neurotic anxieties in their proper place.
Ferriss himself says “star therapy” is part of his nightly routine.
In Sick in the Head, Judd Apatow has his collection of interviews with comedians—titans in their own right. Apatow talks to Seinfeld about feeling irrelevant compared to everything else going on in the world. Apatow asks how he gets over feeling like a drop in the ocean. Seinfeld embraces it:
You look at some pictures from the Hubble Telescope and you snap out of it. I used to keep pictures of the Hubble on the wall of the writing room at Seinfeld. It would calm me when I would start to think that what I was doing was important.
What situations and decisions seemed very serious in the past ten years? A lot. College finals seem magnitudes more important than they actually ended up being.
Years later, how many of these situations had repercussions matching the perceived weight at the time? A few. A few end up laughable in hindsight. There’s value in striving for excellence daily, but not to the point of anxiety.
Too many moments in too many days seem overwhelming. They’ll be forgotten in a few weeks, not to mention months or years. Just completely forgotten. You can’t get upended by everything. There’s value in recognizing a thought and letting go if worrying won’t help—in most cases it won’t. You can practice that.
That practice can start by looking at the stars.