Thinking – we can’t stop it but is that good or bad?
This may sound odd, but have you ever thought about your thoughts? From the moment we open our eyes in the morning until we fall asleep at night, we produce an endless stream of thoughts. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say “streams” of thoughts because there appears to be little relation between many of them. But each thought we have is preceded by a thought or an event of some kind – the phone ringing, perhaps, or someone speaks to us or we hear a noise – and produces another thought. It’s like perpetual motion but in the mind. If all that thinking was effective and productive, what amazingly efficient beings we would be!
A waste of time
Unfortunately, most of our thoughts are a waste of time and energy. If we observe what we are thinking about, we will probably find that at least 90% is about what has gone on in the past or what we think is going to happen in the future.
In thinking about the past, we might be reflecting on what has happened. How well did we deal with a situation? Why did someone speak to us the way they did? What made a neighbour act in a certain way? Maybe we reflect on a pleasant evening we had, and so it goes on. That’s human nature, isn’t it?
We also think about the future. What time we need to be somewhere, hoping something turns out ok, imagining how we are going to deal with a situation, how someone is going to react, looking forward to a holiday etc. It sounds exhausting and it is exhausting.
Thinking uses up energy
Thinking uses up energy. It uses up physical energy in the form of calories (a good thing, you might say) but unnecessary thoughts also dissipate our chi and other subtle energies. This results in our awareness lacking focus and coherence. Thinking can stir up emotions, too. Everything seems hunky-dory and all of a sudden our mind flits back to a painful event in the past – and whoosh – up come all the old emotions; or we start to worry about what might happen in the future.
All this is truly remarkable because the one thing we are not thinking about very much is what lies between the past and the future – now. All we have, ever, is the present moment. There is nothing else. Life is just an unfolding present moment, but if we are not present in the present, life is lost to us and we are lost to life.
There is more on this in The Great Little Book of Happiness, available here.
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