Doris is unhappy because she thinks life is unfair. Hal is always angry because everyone he meets is a jerk. Beth is always getting into arguments because everyone is trying to take advantage of her. Frank can’t hold a job because he refuses to put up with office politics.
It’s time for the truth to be known. Doris’ problem isn’t that life is unfair, but that she THINKS it is. Her problem isn’t with life, but with her THOUGHTS. Hal’s problem isn’t due to jerks, but to his FEELINGS, which he is responsible for. Beth’s problem isn’t being exploited by others. Rather, it is her own ACTIONS that bring her so much grief. Finally, Frank’s problem isn’t office politics, but his own poor ATTITUDE.
What is ATTITUDE? It is our perspective or view of life and is composed of our thoughts, feelings, and actions. The cornerstone of everything, however, is our THOUGHTS because without them there would be no feelings or actions. Our thoughts, then, are the building blocks of our reality. Or as expressed by Buddha (568 ~ 488 BC), “We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make our world.”
Things happen to us. We then interpret events and take action. In other words, life acts and we react. We are free to interpret events in a positive or negative manner. If we’re wise enough to look at things in a positive light, we lead happy lives. If we allow ourselves to get bogged down in negative thoughts, we lead miserable lives. That’s why it’s time to think about what we think about. It’s time to monitor our thoughts and control them, rather than have them control us.
Now, let’s look at a typical life event, interpret it, and follow it to its conclusion. Imagine that I’m walking down a crowded street after a rainfall. Someone behind me is walking quickly while holding a folded umbrella. As he struts, he carelessly swings his arms to and fro, stabbing the air with the pointed end of his umbrella. As he tries to pass me – Ouch! – he pokes me in the knee.
What just happened is an event. It stimulates my mind and triggers a thought. “What a careless jerk,” I think, as I rub my knee. This thought then provokes an emotion, which in this case is anger. The emotion arises spontaneously and I have no control over it. However, what happens next is critical. I can STOP and think before I act, or I can allow myself to be swept away by the emotion. That is, I can choose to rule my emotions or by relinquishing my responsibility allow them to rule me.
In this case, I give in to my anger by reacting negatively. Before he gets away, I yell, “Hey, stupid! Watch who you are hitting with your umbrella, you jerk!” Not surprisingly, my hostility infuriates the man who hit me by accident, so he stops and confronts me. As you can see, my negativity attracts MORE negativity. Bigger than me, the angry man punches me in the face. After returning home, my wife looks at my bloodied face and asks me what happened. I reply, “Some jerk hit me in the face.” Do you see what has happened? I blamed an external event for my misery, when, in fact, I created it.
Now, let’s see what happens when I monitor my thoughts. Same example. I get hit by an umbrella, think the guy who hit me is careless, and feel angry. But this time, before acting, I STOP. I pause. I hesitate. Why? Because I remember that my emotions are messages from my Higher Self. Although we have many emotions, they can be broken down into two groups: good feelings and bad feelings. When I feel bad, such as when I’m angry, my Higher Self is warning me that I’m straying from my goals of perfect freedom, endless growth, and joy. After all, anger, and other negative emotions, can enslave, stunt growth, and squelch happiness.
So, this is why I decide to STOP being angry. Instead, I decide to look at the event rationally. Why did the man hit me with the umbrella? Because he was thoughtless and careless. Why was he careless? Well, he’s a human, isn’t he? What human hasn’t been careless? Haven’t I been careless before? Of course, I have. With these THOUGHTS in mind, I forgive him, and all my anger subsides. I FEEL better. Although I could end it here, I decide to speak to the man before he pokes out the eye of some small child. “Excuse me, Sir,” I say, you just hit me in the knee with your umbrella. Please try not to hit anyone else.” The man stops, profusely apologizes, and promises to be more careful.
Do you see what has happened this time? My positive behaviour attracted more positivity into my life. I have helped to make the world a little bit safer. How do I feel? Great! Because I am feeling great, I will continue treating others with kindness and respect throughout the day. And as I do so, they will reflect my attitude by treating me well, too.
Because we are creating our own reality with our thoughts, it is important to get into the habit of listening to the messages of our Higher Self. Our Higher Self is also called our Inner Self, True Self, Divine Spark, Subconscious, Collective-Unconscious, Inner Being, Inner Guidance, Inner Voice, or simply Conscience. What we call it depends on our viewpoint, be it spiritual, religious, philosophical, psychological, or other. It’s not important what you call it or whether you understand it or not. The only important thing to know is its value. In a way, it’s like electricity. You don’t have to understand how it works, all you need to know is how to benefit from it.
When it gets dark, don’t curse the darkness; turn on the light switch! If your life seems to be heading downhill, don’t despair, but stop and listen to your Inner Voice and follow its guidance. The formula is quite simple. When we do good, we feel good. When we feel good, we treat others well. When we treat others well, they do likewise. The result of all of this is happiness.
Because negativity and positivity attract more of the same, it is easy to get locked into a life of misery or a life of joy. It depends on which path we choose to follow. If we wish to experience perfect freedom, endless growth, and joy, one thing is clear: we need to monitor our thoughts and think about what we are thinking about.
I have also created a diagram of the entire process of how we create our lives with our thoughts. It is a visual presentation of this article and helps to clarify everything. Part 2 of this article is here.