Thinking: Happiness is easy when everything is going our way. However, we can suffer, even when have everything we want. By managing our thinking, we can find joy from learning how to think about our world.
Thinking: Learning how to Manage the Pain Between our Ears
Traditionally, we see our thoughts in three categories: the past, the present, the future. I add another category: the flow.
Ruminating about or regretting the past is painful. Additionally, filling our heads with anger over the past is enticing. We can imagine how we could have said or done things to people whom, we believe, have harmed us. Rather than allowing the past to haunt us, we can process these thoughts by taking simple steps to change our thinking. Simply taking a deep breath can change our thinking. Also, getting into action can change our focus. Take a walk. Finish a task we have been putting off. Writing a gratitude list put us into action mentally and can alter our mood.
Worrying is a thief of our joy and clarity. We see problems as insurmountable. Worrying about the future steals our energy. Additionally, worrying clutters our mind. Rather than worrying, we can write about our concerns. From there, we can seek advice. Additionally, we can create a plan to see solutions. We might find that clearing our minds, we can see that we have options. Even when faced with unavoidable problems, we can prepare to meet them. Preparation builds confidence and helps us we that we will have the wisdom to deal with frightening situations.
Here are things that help me feel happy return to clarity and relief. First, can we simply let the feelings pass? Thinking about the unhappy experience heightens our unhappiness. Even years later, when we think of bad experiences, the unhappy feelings can return. Therefore, not thinking about the cause of our unhappiness allows us to find happiness and return to the present moment. A process for letting feelings pass is to sit with a feeling and focus on the feeling, not the things that we think are causing our unhappiness.
Second, can we change things that make us unhappy? If we can, we can concentrate on solutions and not the problem.
Thinking is still necessary. Sometimes diligent thinking is necessary. When I learn new skills, I must carefully think about what I am doing. I am in the present moment. But as I become more skillful, I move from the present moment to the highest level of thinking.
Returning the present moment is simple. We can focus on the things in front of us. An even higher level of thinking is living in the flow. Some people call this psychological condition “the zone.”
We stop thinking. We just move through time and action without analysis or distraction.
When I was a Navy officer, standing bridges watches was stressful. I commanded a watch team to keep the ship on course and speed. Additionally, I made changes in course and speed to keep the ship safe and on task. At first, I did a great deal of analytical thinking. As I became for capable, I was no longer analyzing. I simply performed.
Today, when I am writing I often find that my thoughts become like a flow. In those moments, I feel peace. My vigilance turns to a simple awareness of what is happening and what to do.