You're about to consider something that perhaps you didn't know was possible: When you feel down or you're hurting, you do not have to gaze out on your life to find the reason. There is another, less demanding option available: You can look inward to the unavoidable fact that you think.
Did you get that? You have a choice. You don't have to try (and try and try) to explain, fix, or excuse your feelings by examining or delving into your circumstances, including your past or future. Rather, you can look within and realize that your feelings come from your thinking. That's why sages throughout history insisted that we "look within for the answers."
Now, if that sounds a little far-fetched or even spiritual, then so be it, because it is. And that's the point. Thought, at its root, is a spiritual principle. Thoughts simply pop into our heads and we have no say about their content, quality, or which ones stick. And although thoughts do create our reality in the moment, they are not reality. When a person thinks judgmental or pessimistic thoughts, his or her reality suffers; when the same person thinks compassionate or affirmative thoughts, his or her reality thrives. Therefore, if we look outward to an impermanent perception of life to explain our feelings, we will always sink deeper into our troubles -- e.g,, and it pains me to say, Newtown, Conn. But if we look inward to the random nature of thought to explain our perceptions of life, answers become obvious and we move forward productively.
Here's a less acute, personal example of this. I was about to give a talk last weekend, when suddenly I felt nervous and unconfident. Could it be the talk that was to blame for my feelings? Could it have been my lack of sleep the night before? Could it have been that there were a lot of people watching? Could it have been that my public speaking professor in college told me I had no chance to make it as a speaker? You get the idea. If I had chosen to look outward to validate my insecure feelings, I could go on looking forever -- without any resolution or relief. So instead, I chose to look inward to the fact that the quality of my thinking at that moment had crafted my perceptions of my talk. Once I had chosen that course, I jumped on stage raring to go.
I will admit, sometimes it's easy to miss that your struggles come from thought and never from circumstance. It so much looks and feels like your environment has the might to make you feel a certain way. Yet, take a closer look. Could that really be true? Are your feelings about the same external situation a constant, or are they constantly up for grabs? You probably don't even realize it, but throughout your lifetime you've ignored thousands of errant thoughts and perceptions and quickly felt better. But you've also made many molehills into mountains and gradually felt worse.
The choice is always yours. Option A: You can look outward to defend your feelings. Option B: You can look inward toward the random nature of thought. Whatever you decide, though, only option B prevents you from raising hell for yourself and those around you. Why? Because looking toward thought, and away from circumstance, allows the self-corrective power of the mind to effortlessly snap into action.
Oh, and one more thing: Yes, it is this simple. Just imagine the pain, carnage, and suffering that could be eliminated if mental health professionals, parents, coaches and teachers would understand, and then teach, the basic and spiritual principle of thought.
Now you know -- so let it start with you.
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