Thoughts on Thinking

"When somebody persuades me that I am wrong, I change my mind. What do you do?" John Maynard Keynes

"If you're unhappy with your life, change your thinking." Charles Fillmore

"The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it." Eckhart Tolle

"People are not disturbed by things, but by the view they take of them." Epictetus

"The unexamined life is not worth living." Socrates

"Consciousness is a terrible thing to waste." PunditGeorge

Thursday, April 01, 2010

The Pink Moon

Driving along the Teague Parkway at dawn the other day I beheld the huge, full, pink moon setting in the western sky. It was one of those “wow, great to be alive” moments. Which is why, I suppose, this time of year is so wonderful. Spring - birth and renewal; Vernal Equinox – balance; Passover - freedom; Easter - triumph of spirit. If ever there is a cycling demonstration of Life, it’s the period beginning with the last full moon of winter (heralded by the worms moving and Robin’s feasting!) It’s a matter for perspective.

It’s easy to see, and appreciate, the marvelous world we inhabit this time of year. In fact, you’d have to make an effort not to see such a vibrant expression of Life all around. And some of us do just that - work very hard to keep our gaze on what we interpret as wrong with someone/something/everything. The price of such focus is a skewed perspective. Why on Earth would anyone, surrounded by such wonder and beauty, give their attention and energy to disagreeable situations? Well, because inherently we know that discord, disharmony, pain and suffering, are not normal states. Such conditions and experiences are out sync and thus draw attention. On a very local level, we wouldn’t last long if our bodies were bereft of “pain” to alert us to maintain ourselves. We pay attention because we want to fix or correct the errant situation and bring it into the natural, harmonious, whole. However, too much attention may be counterproductive.

A confounding premise of quantum theory is that the mere action of observing (measuring, or watching) sub-atomic somethings affects the observed something. In essence, the action/state of the particle/wave/vibration conforms to the observation. On a philosophic level this begs the question - do we view the universe because it is there? Or, is the universe there because we view it? The universe is a really big space/time and it would necessitate a really “big” observer to bring it into “reality.” That’s the element that gives a lot of  folks the willies - the prospect of Consciousness as the determining force. It’s much easier to speak of Mother Nature, evolution, natural law, or whatever. In any case, it’s a marvelous reality.

Yet this curious premise helps explain how our attention influences our experience. Which is to say, whatever we give our attention, we see/experience more of. This is self-evident. What’s on your mind is what you’re seeing and dealing with. It’s the chicken or the egg conundrum. How often have you heard (or had the experience) of thinking/saying “I knew that was going to happen,” usually – but not always - about something dreaded or unwanted? Or something to the effect “Well, yes, I’d like _____ (fill in the blank) but...” (then assert a contrary expectation!)

The question is what do we want? To feel good and enjoy Life, now? Or, something else? It does look more and more like a natural law that what we want (give attention to, think about, have strong emotions about) is what we experience. For years I’ve made it a point to hand-signal “time out” when someone makes a statement to the effect “Life is too short to ...” Whoa! Why cut short Life? Rephrase, state what is desired, which results in something like “Life is too important to ...”

Spring provides us so many sensory experiences to help direct our attention to what we want - which is generally considered a good and happy life. It is easy to appreciate spring - the warm sun, the rain, the budding trees and plants, the myriad of birds, (and at our house, the appearance of the rabbit and non-appearance but evidence of the resident armadillo), sights, sounds, smells - all the essence of Life. The Pareto Principle applies - 80% of your life is likely pretty good and only 20% “needs improvement.” Which gets the most attention? Of course, the 20%. Why does the 20% never seem to go away? Observing the problem increases awareness and thus experiences of the problem, and visa versa.

Be radical in 2010. Give attention - appreciation - to the 80% and experience more of the good Life. Who knows, maybe at some point you’ll be on a “rampage of appreciation*” and oblivious to aches, pains, misery, resentment, jealousy - all of those unpleasant experiences. Other folks might want to grow their unhappy 20% but that doesn’t mean you must. And, your increased appreciation and delight can not diminish another’s potential for good.
Pink moon. Wow. That’s something to appreciate.

*Jerry and Esther Hicks

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