We live in our heads. We’re so intellectual. While I love science, this is its downside: We keep looking for right answers. Empirical Evidence in some areas has lead to a desire to have it everywhere. But some systems are simply too complex for us to ever have any sort of truly useful understanding of the details. We would need a God perspective. And we don’t have that, so we get into trouble when we try to understand the details of every act of human behaviour.
We cannot succeed by trying to figure out every single thing we see. We instead must operate from a higher understanding. Where we truly grasp that being right is most often not as important as being at peace.
In an argument with your spouse, if your intention is to prove your point, or make your case, or explain things, then you are lost. Because no one but you can see things from your perspective. Just because they have the power to see doesn’t mean they look for the same things you do. So if everyone has separate realities, why are you constantly trying to reconcile them? Why do people have to see it your way? Abandon that need. Free yourself. What if your priority was peace?
As we age, we become aware of limited moments. You only have so much time in which to be alive. Realising this, most people begin to wonder about how they are spending these moments. Being right starts to feel less important than simply enjoying the time you have. You can argue over the rules, or you can pick a set and play the game.
We need to understand our experience differently. Right now you see your life as events that you have lived outside yourself, when in fact they are experiences you have created within yourself. You don’t experience the zoo, or married life. You experience what you think about the zoo, and what you think about your spouse. So you have to get less interested in getting your spouse to do what you want, and you have to get way more interested in learning to think of them in appreciative ways.
You live in an abstract world where you manipulate symbols as though they were reality. You get incredibly frustrated, angry and sad about your inability to get these symbols to do what you want, when in fact you should quiet you discussion about the symbols and you should listen for peace instead. Like water looking for low ground, you should have your entire being focused on finding a route to peace. Peace should be your nature.
Stop having complicated ideas about what you need to be happy. There are people that are happy that have way less than you, so obviously that’s not how you do it. You have to stop catering to all of your ego’s desires. If you want to be beautiful, or admired, or rich, or famous, or even understood, then you are lost in ego. You will know you are becoming wiser when what you want is peace.
Because you think life is things being manipulated out there, you keep coming up with arguments for why you can’t have peace as your priority. “But this or that person’s going to do this or that thing wrong” you’ll tell me. “That’s not good,” you’ll judge. But life isn’t out there. It’s in here. So until you accept that idea as the real Truth, then you will be forever trapped manipulating symbols.
However, if you let that idea go and instead look at the actual experience of your life, you will realise that this idea isn’t nebulous or unclear. It’s stunningly practical. You feel the results of your thoughts, so be less interested in the outside of you and more in controlling the direction of your thinking. It’s like we’re in a car. I’m saying, “Stop focusing on the glass of the front window and grab the wheel instead!” But you keep arguing, “Don’t you see what’s out there!?” Sigh.
The Chinese have a saying that I paraphrase as: “If you don’t watch out, you’ll end up right where you’re headed.” Make peace your priority. Until you do, you won’t take the sorts of actions that will lead to it.
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.