We live in a world that is beautiful beyond description, yet most of us only glimpse this beauty occasionally. Why? What if the puzzle of life was that we are surrounded by, and a living part of, what the Taoist called "The Flow of Heaven," yet we are not conscious of it because we became fascinated with the ability to conceive and create. What if the gift of thought was a blessing and a curse? I believe it is.
A Mixed Blessing
I am using thought right now to communicate with you. The Egyptians tamed the Nile and created great temples and cities that exist today. The beauty we have created from our imaginations and thought is marvelous. Yet a schizophrenic cannot tell the difference between reality and their thoughts. While this is an extreme example, many of us cannot always tell the difference between thoughts and reality. Wars have been fought over thoughts and ideologies.
In fact, any thought, or system of thought is at best an approximation of the reality it is trying to describe. Thoughts about things can never match the complex and beautiful reality of the world all around us, and taking our thoughts too seriously can drive us crazy. So you might ask, what does this have to do with happiness?
We Can Lose Touch With Life
If the world we live in is beautiful beyond description, but our consciousness is only focused on thoughts that describe reality, or worse, is focused on our thoughts about thoughts. Each level of thought takes us level after level away from the living reality of life. As we lose touch with the living reality of life that is all around us, we begin to feel bad. Over time our mood plummets into depression, anger or other low moods. By our focus on these thoughts, we lessen our connection to life.
In a groundbreaking book, "Sanity, Insanity, and Common Sense," a team of psychologists discovered that low moods, or "states of mind," are conditioned states caused by thoughts that repeat themselves in our minds, and that higher states such as love, gratitude, focus, contentment, and happiness in general, are natural unconditioned states of mind. What they are saying is, all we have to do is let go of repetitive thoughts that form patterns in our mind and we will feel happy naturally.
Happiness Is a Natural State of Mind
This is why babies tend to be naturally happy and curious. They are not worrying about what might happen tomorrow. We worry about tomorrow for them, and take action to keep them safe. The challenge is, how to plan for tomorrow without getting totally captured by our thoughts. This is the key to happiness.
But how? Understanding the use of and dangers of thought, is the key. If you believe that thoughts are real, instead of approximations, then it will be hard to let go of your thoughts. If you understand that thought is used to create, and realize its dangers, you will be able to let go of thoughts that are not working for you.
Our moods, both low and high, are feedback from our psyche. If we put our hand in a flame, we feel the pain and pull back. This is the bodies feedback system. Likewise a low mood is feedback that our thoughts are repeating themselves in our minds, and drawing us away from "The Life Force" or the "Flow of Heaven," causing all forms of unhappiness.
For a week, observe the thoughts that repeat themselves in your mind, and write them down. Also notice your low feelings and see what thoughts might be associated with them. Over time you will notice patterns that create your low moods. As you do, it will be easier to let go of these thoughts, realizing they are not real and are lowering your state of mind. As you start letting go of these thoughts, notice how you feel. See if you start feeling better.