Although we can’t control what we think about life’s ups and downs, we do have some say over where we invest our mental energy, where we focus our attention, the level of attachment we have to our thinking in the moment. When we see the nature of thought rather than the content of thought, it gives us a level of objectivity, a distance that makes room for a different perspective.
For example, before the holidays I sent an e-mail to a friend and colleague to summarize my thoughts on a contract I’d finished. I followed it up with a phone call that went to voice mail. At the beginning of this month, I still hadn’t heard from him. Of course, I started speculating as to why – and you know it didn’t have a positive spin. I could actually feel my stomach drop as I’d pour energy into the scenario I was creating in my head. Then I’d catch myself and back up. I’d stop feeding the mental bonfire and it would go out.
When people start to learn about the role and nature of thought, they catch on quickly to the idea that they are creating their experience of life in the moment via thought. As they get more savvy, they see the connection between their thinking and their feeling. And then they want to know what to do when they have thinking they don’t want.
To me, it’s helpful to think about choosing where to invest your personal energy. Use whatever metaphor works for you – feeding the fire works for me. I get a chuckle out of picturing myself frantically throwing logs on the fire or stepping away and letting it go out. It’s not about thinking up a better scenario or coming up with a more hopeful perspective. When we become less attached to the content of our thinking, our minds clear and we return to our innate well-being. We feel ourselves filling up with the creative energy of life and the beautiful feeling of peace and hopefulness that’s our birthright. We automatically renew our source of personal energy when we stop wasting it.
Happy New Year! Let’s make 2013 the year we make peace… with ourselves. I know it’s tempting to see the clean slate of the new year as an opportunity to re-start all those self-improvement initiatives, but what if we resolved to give it a rest for a while.
We fool ourselves into thinking that happiness is a journey or some kind of contingent give and take. I’ll be happy when I finish my degree, when I lose 10 lbs., when I get more clients…. And when we meet those goals and we’re still not content, we decide that must not have been it; there must be some other key to happiness out there. Or, we see the flaw in that cycle and decide we’re going to “work on” accepting ourselves and being grateful for what we have in life. We redirect our critical self-thinking and make lists of everything we have to be thankful for or all of our positive traits. We vow to practice loving ourselves until we get it right. What?
We’ve all had the experience of solving problems when we stopped working on them. Answers just appeared. We’ve been flooded by powerful feelings of joy and gratitude while driving to the supermarket. This is what happens when we let our essential resilience, our innate wisdom and common sense, bubble to the top of our consciousness. It’s always there if we have the faith to stop doing and just be.
Many Americans say Thanksgiving is their favorite holiday. Why? It’s an oasis of good feeling in what can be the frantic weeks of the holiday season. People give themselves permission to relax for a few hours with family and friends, share a meal, and be grateful for the bounty in their lives. If it feels so good, why don’t we do it more than once a year?
Living in a feeling of gratitude and abundance is always available to us – it’s not about the event. We live in a world of thought, old and new, along with the accompanying feelings. We decide which thoughts and feelings to dwell on and which ones to let pass through. If we believe gratitude is a special feeling reserved for rare occasions, then we won’t notice it in our day-to-day lives.
I tend to see abundance in my world rather than scarcity. It’s an orientation, a perspective I’ve come to see as normal. But I’ll admit, I’m a little deliberate about gratitude just because it feels so good. I look for it inside me every morning as soon as I wake up, and it’s always there. Sometimes, I actually feel myself smile while my eyes are still closed. So on Thursday when you settle down and let yourself slide into a peaceful, grateful moment, realize the potential for that feeling is always there. It can feel like Thanksgiving every day – even without the turkey and pumpkin pie.
Recently, I’ve had to practice what I preach in my training and coaching – on myself! After 14 years in a job I loved with a company whose patriotic mission was a source of inspiration and pride, I was laid off due to a centralization of HR services. It took two years to complete the reorganization, and during that time, I continued to teach and coach others to be resilient in the face of uncertainty and change.
I can’t say that I didn’t get angry and sad, but my understanding of where those feelings came from kept me from dwelling on them. It wasn’t about the circumstances; it was my thinking about those circumstances. I also knew that whatever I was feeling was a product of my thinking. So I had a choice – put more energy into my anger and resentment (which felt terrible!) or have faith in the amazing human potential for new thinking.
I’ve never been so grateful to have learned about the role and nature of thought from Mr. Sydney Banks. His books and lectures about three simple, yet profound principles helped me realize that we are all essentially resilient — that we have an unlimited potential for new thinking that instantly brings us a different experience of life in the moment. Those tough times tested my own faith and understanding but at the same time, my teaching and coaching jumped to a new level.
My goal for these posts is to share my experiences in training, coaching and consulting based on a foundational understanding of what Mr. Banks referred to as the 3 Principles. I invite my business colleagues and the practitioners in the 3 Principles Global Community to share their experiences, questions, and thoughts for future post topics.