Winner: Scott’s Favourite Blogs of 2014 #1
Even just this week alone I cannot count how many people have told me about things they worried about that never came to pass. To do that is to entirely misunderstand reality. Reality is absolutely not what’s going on outside of you. Reality is the processing you do inside of you. Stop just reading that and take a moment to really think about it.
Your life experiences are not things that take place in some exterior world, they are things you think about in the world within your consciousness. That’s why the Buddha said your world arises from your thoughts. Not because it’s some airy-fairy, ambiguous, important-sounding spiritual statement—but because it’s actually true in the most practical sense possible.
If you went to the mall to shop and then you took your kids to their after school class and the entire time you sat there worried about the price of your car repair, or that your sister will be mad about you being away for her birthday, or about what will happen at work tomorrow, or whatever—then the experience of your life was not about malls or kids classes—it was about worry! You might have been standing in front of a clothing rack or you might have been watching your kid throw a ball or learn dance moves, but if your consciousness was focused on worrying about things in the past or things in the future, then you were not present for the moment you were living. Your ego was busy doing what egos do, which is think about and judge things rather than simply experiencing them with open awareness.
Don’t take this lightly. You dedicate gigantic portions of your life to various kinds of worry. Worrying if someone likes you, worrying if someone’s recognizing your work, worry about financial concerns, or parenting worries, or worries about how the roads will be when you drive home, or about a pending visit from a difficult relative. You invest truly insane amounts of time in useless ruminations about countless subjects and if we could just get you to reduce that you would have massively changed your life.
You need to get to know worry. You need to become friends with it. You need to really know how worry feels. Because that’s the great thing about how you’re built. You have a signalling system wired right into you. If you think a worried thought you will get a worried feeling. Your brain will respond to your thinking by dosing you with the chemistry that allows you to feel your own thought-experiences. This is how your life is made. Thinking is the fabric of what you experience every day. So you need to start paying much closer attention to what those thoughts are focusing on. Because way too often they’re just wandering around unattended, with you thinking in subconscious patterns you learned as a kid. Okay, fine, you had to start somewhere. But your experiences at six years old should not be completely shaping your reactions to things 25 years later. The past is the past. You need to process the present moment in the present moment.
Worry feels specific. It’ll sit in a specific place in your body. It’ll feel a specific way. Stop seeing that as the result of the external events and start recognizing it for what it is—a choice. Your body is signalling you that you’ve made a choice to worry. Since worry never fixed anything, use that signal for what it is and consciously choose to think about anything other than something that’s worrying you. Practice that movement in your mind and you will get better at it. You will get better at changing your mind. This isn’t difficult. It simply requires you to maintain an awareness of how you feel and then to take responsibility for that feeling by checking in with your thinking and moving it when necessary.
You are always only one thought away from feeling better. Do not surrender your life to pointless worry. Not when there are so many other wonderful things to think about. So go have yourself a spectacular day by noticing all of the spectacular things about it. 😉
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own overthinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.