Will quality thinking give us a better future? What do you think? How often do we take the time to stop and think about our thinking? Yet our thinking determines our reality, the decisions we make, our wellbeing and how we feel. If we can understand where our thoughts come from and the impact they can have, we can choose a better path. We can become better leaders, but it has to come from the inside out.
‘The quality of our thinking will determine the quality of our future’ Edward de Bono
Our brain is an incredibly powerful tool and it has evolved over millions of years to ensure our survival and success. It controls the 7 trillion cells of our body and helps create our thoughts and emotions. Our mind has an in-built capacity and design for success. Inside of ourselves we have all that we need through the intelligence and energy of the system. We have wisdom and intuition and the free will to make the wrong decision. Our natural state is balance, stillness and flow. The problem comes with thought. Everything we experience is created by our thinking.
Thinking has enabled humans to be the most successful and destructive beings on the planet. We have an amazing capacity to create, innovate, show compassion and care. It can go wrong sadly.
I like to imagine that thoughts are like clouds. They form, constantly change and disperse. They can be inspirational, breath taking. Some can hang around for a long time, build up and make us feel depressed. If we allow ourselves to be enveloped in cloud, we can get lost or a distorted view of the world. However dark the clouds may be, the sun is still there above them. Similarly, however depressed we may feel, the joy and peace, which is our default state, is still there to be found.
Our thoughts form from a wide variety of sources. To name just a few:
- Internal voices
- Role models
We can become a prisoner of our thoughts and allow ourselves to identify with them. When we realise we are not our thoughts and we are only one thought away from a better life, we can set ourselves free. The more enjoyable, productive, fulfilling our lives can be. I don’t believe anyone gets up in the morning and sets out deliberately to have a bad day. We subconsciously sabotage ourselves. Our dysfunctional thinking trips us up. Our judgement and quality thinking go out the window.
‘I think, therefore I am’ Rene Descartes
An example would be that a member of staff has upset you and you build up negative thoughts about them. Perhaps their behaviour triggers unpleasant memories of another person from the past. These thoughts create an unhelpful opinion of them. How will you respond the next time you need to interact with them?
Eckhart Toller in his book The Power of Now describes how we have innate Being, which helps us feel at one and brings enlightenment. The metaphor of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden describes how Homo Sapiens had a ‘heavenly’ life until they developed thought. Once people had thought, they could choose to move away from their Being.
“The mind is its own place, and in itself, can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.” John Milton
How often are we thinking in the NOW? Are we truly present? The danger is we will get trapped by psychological time, which is an illusion. We bring baggage from the past. We have regrets for what could have been. The future is yet to be. We can worry about what may happen or spend our lives waiting for good things to come to us. How often do you catch yourself thinking – when I have a salary of £x then I will be happy, or when my partner behaves differently then I will love them again? We create suffering and pain for ourselves. All we truly have is this present moment and we need to make the most of it.
Another aspect which can trip us up is EGO. This works in the unconscious and is tied to past and future. It can be destructive by creating pain and emotional energy. It creates a defensive attitude and will fight to survive. It also builds cravings and desires to feed it, which can lead to a sense of lacking. It can create unhealthy competition and behaviours in the workplace.
Sensing our World
Thoughts create our emotions. Have you ever watched a sad film and cried even though you know it’s not real? ET does it every time for me! “Our senses provide a greater experience of the world. We use our five senses to ‘experience’ the outside world. We see colour, hear sounds, feel heat and cold; courtesy of our senses. Our consciousness is like the ‘translator’ of reality. For example, a sound wave enters our ear, it goes through our eardrum and through our consciousness we can experience the difference between bird song and a pneumatic drill. Our consciousness has translated the sound into something. Consciousness does not just refer to our senses and the physical world. We have the ability to bring things to ‘life’ within us. If we think a sad thought, we feel sad and experience sadness. If we imagine a joyful experience we have a sensory internal experience of joy.” Liz Scott.
Much of our mental ill-health comes from our dysfunctional thinking. If we can understand the power of thinking and set ourselves free from that power, we can help find our way back to wellbeing, peace and joy. It is just one thought away. By understanding quality thinking better, we can help ourselves and others avoid the pain.
Also published on Medium.