Today is easy. Do not over-complicate it.
We think our thoughts. We are not the thoughts, we just get that feeling because our mind gives those thoughts to our hypothalamus and it converts them into chemistry. That chemistry then spreads out into our bodies for us to experience as a feeling or emotion.
That’s why the thoughts feel so personal. But they’re still just thoughts and chemicals. They are what we are doing, they are not ‘us.’
If we don’t think we can change how much we think –or how much we think about which subjects– we just think that. Lots of people have thought that who now know how to take far more control over their minds.
Of course, no one ever gets exclusive control. We need our mistakes to grow from.
It’s a bit like evolution, where the mutations lead to growth and diversity. It’s hard to call those ‘mistakes’ ‘wrong.’ Similarly, within us, facing adversity expands our resilience and confidence. We do get something in trade for our pain, we just don’t know we have it until we or someone we love needs that ability in the future.
Our job is to remember the long game and see our adversity in a larger context. But to do that we must be prepared to challenge the ways we see the world now. In fact, that’s all I really do; I ask questions that people find it paradoxical to answer and I help them find their answers.
To develop the responses they need to answer to those questions about reality, they have no choice but to abandon their previous view of reality in order to replace it with something that fits their experience more accurately. It is by stretching their minds in those new ways that I lead them to change themselves. That’s why it sticks. It’s not a technique. They are different.
That’s how it happened for me too. I was just a little kid who wanted to know where people who were brought back to life were while they weren’t alive. That lead to questions about what is it to be alive, and that lead to questions about the definition of who or what the being having those experiences really was. Those questions change us.
Don’t overthink. Be aware of yourself as a biochemical reality. If we’re going to think anything, we should ask ourselves some very basic questions about the definition of ‘I,’ the definition of ‘life’ and the definition of ‘reality.’
The answers to those questions change how we use our minds, and changing who or what we think we are is at the heart of changing our lives and the world around us.
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.