This quote, from University of Washington professor Clayton Cook, is a reminder that in order to be happy and reduce stress, we have to distance ourselves from our thoughts. Confused about what this has to do with toes?
Here's the full quote:
You are not your big toe.
Much the same way you may notice pressure on your big toe and your toe may feel uncomfortable, you may notice distressing or uncomfortable thoughts, but that does not mean that you are distressed.
It may seem like strange advice, but do not believe everything you think. Thoughts impact how you feel, and, in turn, feelings impact your behaviour. But, ultimately thoughts cannot make you do anything and do not define who you are. The better you can become at being aware of your thoughts and simply labelling them ("I'm having the thought…), the better you can recognise them for what they are — just thoughts.
The big toe analogy might seem a bit silly, but this is just another Zen-like reminder not to let your thoughts overwhelm and totally consume you.
Professor Cook is teaching a free course on stress management and wellbeing over at edX (it started last month, but you can still jump in and catch up!).