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What Hurricane Sandy Can Teach Us About the Principle of Thought

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It's not always apparent, but your feelings are tied directly to the variable nature of your thinking, not the variable nature of the world around you.

I live in the New York metropolitan area. As most of you know, our area got hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. We had no power or water at home (although we tapped into a large generator on our street), and our property lost many old trees. But we are lucky. Like most people up and down the east coast of the U.S., we are physically fine and psychologically resolute. Our community and region are pulling together. In spite of our current circumstances, compassion, understanding, and determination are showing us the way.

In fact, in the wake of Sandy, I've been reflecting on the relatively upbeat and supportive mood around here and what it can teach us: Specifically, these questions: How come we can't pull together like this all the time? And does it actually take a hurricane to reveal our innate ability to take swift and creative action, as well as our natural disposition of love and compassion for our fellow man?

To me, the answer to both of these questions is that collectively we have forgotten what we once knew as young children: Our free-flowing and peaceful thinking is true; our bound-up and judgmental thinking is not. When we don't have time to overthink things (like during a disaster), human beings instinctually care and our behavior is almost always productive. When we have time to overthink, insecurity and ego creep in, we believe this thinking to be meaningful and our behavior often turns self-serving and hollow.

Just yesterday morning, for example, I almost fell into the trap. I bumped into a friend at a local diner. His family has no heat or water, and he looked tired and cold. Because my family doesn't need our portable generator anymore, I was overwhelmed with the wonderful feeling that I should offer it to my friend. But this selfless sensation was followed by a less-giving one: "What if the large generator on our street isn't enough and I want to power more things in my house? Maybe I shouldn't be so generous." Fortunate for both of us, though, I didn't buy into my conceited (yet innocent) thoughts. I knew that my initial, unforced feeling suggested the proper course of action, while the tight feeling that accompanied my conceited thoughts suggested just the opposite.

Here, then, is what Hurricane Sandy can teach us about the principle of thought: Efficiency is the byproduct of freedom and intuition, incompetence is the byproduct of acting from insecurity or arrogance since these qualities (and how these qualities feel to us) are signs of impure thinking.

No, it's not Hurricane Sandy that brought out the best in the people of my area. What brought out our best is we haven't had many spare moments (like I had in the diner) to think and get stuck in our own temporarily misguided heads. So our inborn love, inner wisdom, and instincts continue to provide a clear and steadfast direction. A direction, by the way, that is available to each of us at all times and under any circumstance.

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