December 14, 2015
At times it can be easy to think that the rest of the world thinks and processes like we do. After all, we might think: If it works for us, why not for everyone else then?
It can be easy—even necessary—to get swept up in it all. Life can be fun, overwhelming, distracting, amazing, baffling, painful, and powerful all at once. The experience of life, which is to say being alive, is at every moment a multi-sensory and multi-dimensional undertaking.
We are never only doing a single thing. Our inner and outer worlds are always communicating. We are always engaged in conscious and unconscious thinking and behavior.
In this moment, even if we are sitting perfectly still, we are multitasking. It is likely that we are feeling, seeing, smelling, tasting, hearing, sensing, thinking, dreaming, itching, reflecting, noticing, and discerning all at once.
Importantly, we can mentally shift our focus to hone in on one thing and highlight it in our minds. For example, we can ask ourselves, “Do I have an itch anywhere on my body?” And, our mind scans our body, usually finding an itch! Would we have noticed that itch if we hadn’t focused in on it? Probably not.
We can do this with all of our senses. We can stop and focus on all the smells in the room where we are. In most cases, when we concentrate on it, we can find a scent that we hadn’t noticed in the moments prior. We can try this with sounds, too…listen. Even with the tastes in our mouths…good or bad.
The point of all this is that we can do the same thing with our minds. Whether we are consciously aware of it or not, the brain is always thinking. And we can stop at any moment and scan that electricity between our ears for clues and reasons for why we are feeling the way we are in that moment.
When we stop and think about what we are thinking, it becomes clear that a lot is happening just underneath the surface. We can ask: What else is on my mind?
When we do this we become more aware of which thoughts are fueling our state of mind. By pausing and focusing on our inner workings, we are likely to notice thoughts that we weren’t aware were there—these may be concerns, joys, wishes, or abstract ideas. Most likely, we will find a mixture of concepts and emotions, great and small. These thoughts, like white-noise, just blend into the background of our thinking unless we focus on them.
It’s difficult to change something that we do not know is there.
Not until we stop and identify what we are thinking (and name the feelings we are feeling) can we take conscious action and make changes.
We don’t have to drift in a sea of our own life, we can take action just by stopping and tuning into our thoughts. This can turn background noise into a soundtrack to live by.
When I close my eyes and focus on my thoughts, what are the top five words that come to me?
What are my dominant thoughts? What are the thoughts that I live by? What are my main ideas about life?
Who is my life’s greatest inspiration?
Grab a Post-it note.
Write five words on it that you would like to see more of in your life. It should be a list of concrete things, like: love, happiness, money, success, joy, laughter, serenity.
Put the Post-it note on your bathroom mirror.
Every time you wash your hands or brush your teeth, stare at the words and quietly scan your mind for actions that you took recently to invite more of the words into your life.
For example, if I am looking for more laughter in my life, I might note that I have started watching more sketch comedy on YouTube every day 🙂
By looking at a word repeatedly and considering its role in our lives, the mind is encouraged to seek out and create more opportunities to experience those ideas.
Be your greatness. Start. Do. Go.