Why Is Neuroticism So Toxic?

Aristotle believed that our habits of thought and our habits of behavior make us who we are. He used the term moral virtue to describe an ideal mindset and believed that how you think is reflected in your actions, and vice versa.

Who do you want to be? How will you get there? Aristotle’s answer to these questions lies in his explanation of the mean. By determining which vice (extreme) you tend towards and then moving toward the other extreme, you can reach your personalized middle way, or mean. 

Only you know your personal, and often private, vices and how you can move toward the other extreme to find your mean. Identify the yaw of your life vessel and take appropriate actions. Finding your personal mean between ‘virtue and vice’ allows you to sail through tempests and tidal waves. Find your mean so that you can venture far from shore and explore new territories without neuroticism. Finding your mean is about optimizing traits, such as openness to experience, so that you can live your life to the fullest.

Conclusion: Quotations and Mantras Can Neutralize Neuroticism

I’ve had my antennae up for quotations and sayings that help me neutralize my neuroticism for decades. Throughout my athletic career, I would write down quotations that resonated with me on fluorescent green index cards and keep them in big stacks on my nightstand. I memorized these quotations before bed so that I could use the nugget of wisdom[35] held in each idea to rearrange my explanatory style during circumstances that might trigger neuroticism in the future. 

In some ways, it’s ironic that one of my all-time favorite mantras for combating the potential inertia of neuroticism—”80 percent of success is showing up”—comes from Woody Allen. But, actually, the fact that Allen came up with this sage advice, is most likely because he personally used the saying to overcome the paralyzing power of his own neuroticism.

Whenever I’m full of dread, or facing a daunting challenge such as an Ironman triathlon, public speaking[36] engagement, or interview … I say to myself in the third person, “Chris, 80 percent of success is showing up. You don’t have to hit it out of the park today. Just show up and give it your best shot.”

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