Do you ever think about your thoughts? Why am I thinking what I am thinking? From the moment we open our eyes in the morning until we close them and 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.
Thoughts are always the result of something else
Each thought we have is preceded by another thought or an event of some kind – the phone ringing or pinging, someone speaks to us or we hear a noise – and that produces yet another thought. If all that thinking was effective and productive, what amazingly efficient beings we would be! Unfortunately, most of our thoughts are a waste of time and energy. If we observe our thinking, we will probably find that at least 80% relates to what has gone on in the past and what we imagine is going to happen in the future.
Past is past
In thinking about the past, we might be reflecting on what happened yesterday, how we dealt with something last week or ten years ago, why someone spoke to us the way they did, what made a friend do this or that, what a pleasant evening we had last night and so on. That’s human nature, isn’t it? We also think about the future. What time we need to be somewhere, hoping a meeting will turn out okay, imagining how we are going to deal with a situation, what might be for dessert when we are still eating the main course, looking forward to a holiday; and so the list goes on. It sounds exhausting and it is exhausting.
A waste of precious energy
Thinking uses up energy, probably more than we think. It uses up physical energy in the form of calories (a good thing, some might say) but too much thinking also dissipates our qi and other subtle energies. As a result, our awareness can lack focus and coherence. Thinking often stirs up feelings, too. Everything can seem hunky-dory when all of a sudden our mind flits back to a painful event in the past – and whoosh – up come all the old emotions. Even more draining, perhaps, is worrying about what might, or might not, happen in the future.
Now, not when, if or maybe
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 – right now. Regrets and hopes are only useful if something constructive comes out of them.
Currently, many people are frequently thinking about when pandemic restrictions will end. When will life return to normal, whatever that may be? But the past, whatever we had or thought we had, has gone. All we have, and ever have had, is now.
Now is where the seeds of the future are sown, so we need to make sure they are good and wholesome seeds. Thinking a little less and being more in the present can help very much with that.
Adapted from The Great Little Book of Happiness