You may be an expert at observation in general, but can you perceive your own mind? Instead of looking at the scenery, can you look within?
You know your thoughts create your experience. But how often do you subject your thoughts to quality control? The ability to observe your thoughts and question them is a skill that can transform your attitude, your perspective, and your happiness quotient. Keeping an eye on your thoughts may seem like a no-brainer, yet most of us don’t do it enough. Instead, we believe our thoughts and let them run wild, taking us to imagined places that create misery.
Have you ever made an assumption that someone was out to harm you, only to find out that you didn’t even have a place in their story? For example, imagine a driver swerves dangerously close to your car. You take offense and scream obscenities at him such as “Learn how to drive you jackass!” Then, as you look in the rear view mirror, you see that he swerved to avoid hitting a deer. This is an obvious example of misconstrued thinking, yet it happens all the time– only the discrepancy between perception and truth is between you and your own mind.
“What happens is of little significance compared with the stories we tell ourselves about what happens. Events matter little, only stories of events affect us.” ― Rabih Alameddine, The Hakawati
When you slip into the usual thought patterns that have worn in a groove after years of reinforcement, take time to stop and notice. Maybe you catch yourself thinking, “There’s not enough time to get everything done today.” Stop there and question that thought. That mood-killing notion is actually based on an impossible premise; the idea that everything can ever be done in a day. See if you can reframe the thought into one that feels better. “There’s enough time to get one major thing crossed off the to-do list today, and I might be able to accomplish a couple of small things, too.” If you want to wax lofty, you can even question time itself. What is time? Is time really something of which you can have enough? Seems like the sun sets when it sets, no matter what your opinion.
“Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time,’ is like saying, ‘I don’t want to.'”― Lao Tzu
To delve in and bask in the freedom of a vastly opened mind, pay attention to your thoughts. Question them. Prune them. Improve them. Think differently. For a great resource, check out the work of Byron Katie. And remember, don’t believe everything you think.