Are you looking for practical spiritual help? Do you want your spirituality and your psychological health to be tied together in a simple, straightforward, successful set of clear instructions? Okay.
Each day we live out 86,400 seconds of what is hopefully about a 2.7 billion second existence. Imagine that each of those seconds is laid out in front of us each morning like enough trays to make 86,400 ice cubes.
Next to us is a collection of neuro-chemicals in large tanks. We have a hose that’s connected to each tank, and a kind of Gatling gun to dispense the chemical of our choice, much like a bartender can trigger whichever mix they want for the drink they’re making. There is no “off” switch —the trigger is permanently on. It’s only a matter of —on what?
As we move through our day we will fill cube-moment after cube-moment with whatever we request with our thinking. We can think painful thoughts and trigger pain, or we can choose to feel regret, or anger, or we can ruminate on frustrating thoughts. We’re the ones with our fingers on the buttons for those chemicals.
It’s important to note that we might also choose compassion, tenderness, love, trust…. every single cube is a new opportunity for a new chemical so it doesn’t really matter what we’ve done previously. Our future is made of the choices we make now. In the end, the quality of our day boils down to the quality of our individual, moment by moment thought choices.
Using that metaphor can we see how we move through our days habitually pouring the same chemicals in the same places at the same times? We don’t actually hate our job. We just pour hateful chemicals into our trays as we approach our work and we continue to use our resistant thinking to fill those trays while we stay there. Or maybe the thoughts are just about a co-worker and not the entire job. Either way, the effect is the same.
We’ll even take time at the dinner table with our family and we’ll invest some filling up some cubes of hatefulness about work or our boss. Those are all choices. It’s not the boss that made that ice cube tray painful, it was the thoughts we had about the boss when they weren’t even present. Our boss doesn’t fill our tray, they fill their own.
Be careful to consider this idea seriously: if we’re talking reality, our boss isn’t even at our family dinner to do any tray-filling. We all fill our own trays. We can’t get healthy if we keep blaming the people we’re thinking about for the fact that we chose to spin that narrative. Those are choices we’re making.
We all benefit from watching ourselves more closely. Right now we give up huge swaths of our lifetime filling trays with lousy chemicals we don’t even like. We do that the same way everyone does —innocently— because we were taught what every ego was taught.
We were all taught rules and laws and fairness and honesty and proper and correct and appropriate etc. etc. etc. So when anyone crosses those lines (that only exist in our heads), we tend to think they’ve done something wrong, when in fact they just have different lines in their head than we have in ours.
That principle can even play out in big ways. For instance, it’s how Pakistan and India can battle over the same chunk of land in Kashmir. They have different borders in different places, but they have trouble finding ways to agree rather than seeing the truth –which is that the only place borders ever really exist is in a person’s mind. That’s how borders have been so flexible throughout time.
No visitors that come from another planet could our borders, they could only find signs and words, but no actual dividing line on the Earth itself.
For the people that don’t think at all about where the border is, they really don’t see the point of the fight. For them the problem doesn’t really exist because they don’t create it by thinking that the region needs to be one country or the other.
This makes our views on India and Pakistan irrelevant because they both create borders using the exact same mental construction. There is no way to be concretely right or wrong when everyone’s reality is legitimately unique.
The same goes for individuals. If we remove our expectations then people aren’t right or wrong, they’re just doing what they’re doing. And if we don’t tell ourselves a story about why we don’t like what is, we’re also fine. But if we’re still thinking resistant thoughts about these ideas hours or days or weeks or months or years later, we can’t blame the person we’re upset with. Those thoughts were 100% ours and they were thought by us 100% choice.
I could introduce people to lots of other people who’ve worked with me who can do this. They aren’t superheroes. They’re just like us. But they were diligent enough for long enough that they’ve switched how they use their minds.
When we’re enacting mental health and strength is when we pay more attention to our interior analysis of the world and make our adjustments there. If we want to change the world, first we have to change our thinking about it. That is real change.
Remember. All day long we are filling ice cube trays whether we notice that fact or not. Every time we see an actual ice cube we should be reminded to check in with our thinking.
It is worthwhile to touch base with our own consciousness to see what we’re filling those opportunities up with. Every moment brings a new empty opportunity, so we benefit as soon as we get conscious.
Today, let’s consider spending the day by more consciously choosing to fill our trays and days wisely, with the grateful thoughts of the most successful type of person there is: a person at peace.
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.