It is said that fifty thousand thoughts go through our individual heads in a normal day. As I notice my thoughts some things become clear. You can notice this too. Some thoughts are quiet, others loud; some are asked for, most are not. They sometimes come in based on a conditioned response to an external stimuli like the actions of another person, or a memory, or simply cascade, with one thought leading to another, until I am thinking something entirely different from what I started with, perhaps triggered by what someone said. Most times though, they just pop in unannounced and unwanted. The very quiet ones are deeply hidden but may show up in my behaviour or action — those times when I sabotage myself.
Yet, I have also experienced, many times throughout my life, moments when there are no thoughts at all.
Oh, how I long for more of those! Sometimes they occur during highly creative moments. But, mostly, they occur when I am doing nothing at all. Just sitting on my back porch, noticing. There is just pure awareness of what is going on around me. No need to comment, judge, or create a story. Because it is the commenting, the comparing, that is the thought. Let go of the judgment (the thought), and beyond that you will find a clarity, a feeling of joy, perhaps peace. This clarity, for me, is highly productive. I can accomplish great things or nothing at all.
Just awareness? I know you are thinking: what do you mean, just observe without judgment? Just sit there doing nothing? I can’t afford to do that. I can hear my smart phone go off, I have an email to check. It might be important.
Ah, yes. Well, there are two thoughts of your fifty thousand. And how many of your emails are truly important? Be honest, isn’t it just that you are hooked on the idea of being connected? Still, that is neither here nor there. The fact is, as you
continue to examine your thoughts, you will conclude that a vast majority of what you are thinking is unnecessary and has taken over your life. That, in fact, you would get along quite well only using your mind as a tool when it is necessary, otherwise not thinking at all.
Clarity understands this. Yet the other thoughts stifle this creativity. They push it aside or deny it for the satisfaction of feeling superior, upset, self-righteous, offended, uneasy, tense, afraid, happy (for a few minutes anyway), angry, jealous, guilty, prideful, hurt, doubtful, and so on.
Within clarity, though, none of that exists. Only awareness: that beautiful, peaceful, joyous place where everything actually makes sense and you wish you could stay forever — that perfect state you promise you will try for, just as soon as you finish writing your response to a co-worker who asked you for your thoughts.
Meditations on life, leadership, and how the world works by Jonathan Creaghan
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