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If you are feeling sad or anxious, try finding out why the sky is blue

A simple and calming technique from our younger selves.

By figueredocPublished about a year ago 6 min read

Emotions can sometimes be hard to manage, especially the negative ones like anger, regret, or despair. If not thoroughly understood, these emotions can lead us to say things or act in ways that we may not really want. I’m sure many of us can relate to a moment when we might have maybe spoken a bit too harshly towards a friend or family member; we are not actually rude, it was just a bad moment. We can even end up feeling frustrated if these emotions linger for some time; wanting to move on and focus on other things, other goals or perhaps other people, but not being able to get those emotions out of the way.

Whenever we get these feelings, we most often try to dismiss them, forcing our minds to change thoughts or not think at all. It might seem counterintuitive, but that approach actually ends up making the negative emotions stay for longer. Our mind is like a rebellious child, it will keep going back to those same emotions later and force them back into the center stage.

Here’s a better approach to dealing with negative feelings or emotions: figure out why the sky is blue.

The idea behind this is to go back to what we did best when we were kids: to question everything we see. We used to fill our parents with questions about everything we observed. Curiosity struck whenever something caught our attention, which in itself was something that happened numerous times throughout the day.

Now, if you stop to think about it, all of this happens at least in part because kids are more aware of their surroundings. We as kids want to discover more and more things about life, and we unconsciously do so empirically. As we grow up, we are taught to think about things more often, developing a new learning method based on logic rather than observation. If left unchecked, overthinking things and situations too much can lead to feelings of anxiety or high levels of stress.

This is why, when you are feeling uneasy about something, shifting your focus from inside your head to the outside world can help to calm down. Becoming more aware of your present surroundings and actions occupies the mind, which in turn gradually pushes away the troubling emotions. By doing this, you are no longer draining your energy, which is limited, in thoughts that have no clear endpoint but rather keep you in a vicious stress cycle. What happens instead is that you start to take in new information, as if you were placed in a new, unknown environment.

Theoretically, when we are kids, we are exploring new environments with unknown factors. Since we have no saved information about we are seeing, our brain goes into recording mode, taking in new data points from our senses and saving them for when we find ourselves in a similar situation. This is true in many scenarios, like going to school for the first time or meeting someone new. By learning as much as possible about the situation, we tend to lose the nervous feeling when repeating the same situation, since we now know what to expect.

As we grow older, we tend to move through life in a sort of autopilot setting, dedicating just enough awareness to what happens around us so that we are in no immediate danger. The rest of our limited focus goes towards what is going on inside our minds. If we instead were to shift our focus more towards our surroundings and what goes around us, more like we used to do when we were kids, our mind would tend to fall silent. This is the same effect we experience when we watch a show or a movie we like.

Now, this technique proves especially useful if our mind is cluttered with worrying thoughts. Shifting our awareness to the surrounding things, albeit hard to do at the beginning, can help ease the tense feelings that we sometimes feel. If we become more aware of all our senses, not just sight, the effect is even more powerful. What sounds can you perceive from the things going on around you? Is there any particular smell or taste that stands out? No matter how subtle these things are, becoming aware of them can help transition your mind into a state of calm.

One way in which this technique works well is by focusing on the sky. What do you see? Why is the sky the way it is? Are there clouds with any particular shapes you find interesting? Is the wind pushing them in any direction? Noticing even the most miniscule details and fixating your attention on them means that there is less attention available to put towards troubling thoughts. Doing this during the night has the added bonus of a light show of stars that seems to span out to infinity (assuming you are not in a place with high levels of light pollution). Stargazing has always been a pleasant and relaxing experience anyway, and if it helps you to calm down, so be it.

When starting out, shifting your awareness might seem like an impossible task. You try to focus on the sky, but the worrying thoughts keep coming back into your mind. This is completely normal. In fact, you will most likely struggle the first few times you try this out. Repetition and consistency is key to making this technique work, just like any other skill. Over time, however, shifting your mind to a state of awareness will become an increasingly easier task. A bit more time, and it will feel even less like a task and more like a pleasant habit that you do multiple times throughout the day.

Furthermore, this can also serve to become more aware of the same thoughts or emotions that are troubling. After all, noticing those thoughts as what they are, manifestations of emotions, can help to better understand why they appear. The thoughts that pop in your head do not define you. It can help to see them as something external: “I feel anger” rather than “I am angry”.


Becoming aware of things is actually a big part of what mindfulness is about. I, personally, have been on and off trying mindfulness and meditation for a few years, and only now that I’ve been more consistent with the practice have I understood why they make so much emphasis on awareness. I see it as a way to let your mind rest; to ease your thoughts into pure observation and let go of tensions that you might be experiencing. If meditation is something you want to try, I suggest trying the Headspace app (not an affiliate link), it has an abundance of sessions to chose from.

Keep in mind that this technique is not really a solution, but rather it is a way of coping with stress or anxiety that you might be feeling in a particular moment. If you have recurring problems with stress or anxiety then you should always seek professional help from people qualified in the matter. Nonetheless, I hope you find this technique useful and it helps you cope better with what you are feeling. Remember that stress, sadness, and anxiety are not something permanent: they are emotions, they can be worked with and let go.

self help

About the Creator


From Colombia. I write about the things and ideas that help you and me become better people. Chat with me on Instagram @figueredoc

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