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Are you conscious of the chatter in your mind? For the next few minutes, pay attention to it.
Maybe you are making a grocery or “to-do” list. Perhaps you are passing judgment on the person who just walked past you at the mall and comparing how you measure up to her. Now your mind is wandering off to how you have never been good enough or smart enough or pretty enough.
What about the driver who just passed you on the shoulder of a busy highway or the woman who cut in front of you? What thoughts are you harboring about them – thoughts that are drawing your attention away from the heavy traffic all around you?
Are you wondering what your spouse might be planning for your upcoming anniversary? Or are you thinking about the possibility of losing your partner – to another partner or even to death?
Having thoughts is no crime, of course. It’s just that our thoughts so often pull us off course.
We put ourselves down, we judge others, we replay the past and we worry about the future. It doesn’t have to be that way.
We are fully responsible for our thoughts and can take charge of them whenever we need to or want to. Isn’t that empowering? No one can ever take away your identity. No one can take charge of your thoughts and thus, your life, without your compliance.
No one can force you into positions that are not to your advantage. No one can foist opinions or attitudes on you. You are as happy or as serene or as peaceful or as self-assured as you decide to be. Whoever you think you are, you are.
Sound too easy? Try it.
Here’s how to do it: When a negative thought begins to move through your mind, envision yourself blowing it away or shaking it out of your head. When a mindless, busy-body thought takes up space in your mind, blow it away, too.
This may sound silly and not very therapeutic or sophisticated, but it really does work.
I don’t believe that every thought we harbor needs to be analyzed for its hidden meaning. Doesn’t it make more sense to use whatever means you have for dispelling thoughts that are not making you happy?
How many minutes of each day do you spend feeling out of sorts or blue, perhaps angry and fearful? You don’t have to. Whatever the feeling is, it has a thought behind it – a thought you can choose to change. All you need to do is shift your perspective.
Making just the slightest shift in how you see whatever is going on around you can change your inner dialogue entirely, thereby changing the thought and the feeling. It may not seem that a new thought comes right away, but it does.
However, our ego is cunning, baffling and powerful. It may pounce on the new thought, brushing it aside before you even have a chance to embrace it, which only means you will have to repeat the process. Asking to experience the shift again is all you have to do. Practice, practice, practice.
We cannot change the world because it is not our job, but we can change ourselves because it is. That’s the most profound shift in our thinking that we ever really need to make.
If you can stay tuned to the calm, gentle voice inside you that truly cares about you, you will never have reason to doubt any decision you make.
If you go to the right source for sustenance, guidance, comfort and peace, you will not falter. If the message still seems a bit muffled because the ego is kicking up a fuss, just remember this: You will never fail to fulfill your purpose if you express only love to every person on your path.
When in doubt, do nothing more than offer love or kindness or comfort to whoever stands before you.
Whatever guidance you are seeking will be revealed in the midst of your act of kindness.
And if you still feel uncertain, you will have added to the peace of the world nonetheless.
Bob Mueller is the senior director of mission and stewardship at Hosparus. To contact Bob or to read his previous columns, visit www.bobmueller.org. The views in this column are those of the writer.