They say … and I admit I’m not totally certain who “they” are in this context. But they say, happiness is just a state of mind. In fact, the same, “they” also believe all reality is just in your head; that your own thoughts create the authenticity of the world around you. Yes, I know, that’s too much heavy thought for such a short column, but it offers an interesting concept.
If everything we know as reality is determined, not by the people and things around us, but, instead, from our own thoughts then how real is it, really?
OK, that’s a bit much to take in, even for me. But suffice to say emotions are created and altered by thoughts. So, are you happy? Or, do you just think you are? In the end, if “they” are correct, it doesn’t even matter.
Most people can change how they feel simply by altering their thoughts or, at least, their perception of a situation. That is, unless you suffer from some type of chemical issue in the brain that causes your feelings to spin out of control no matter what you’re thinking. And we’re not going to get into any of that because I am simply not qualified to talk about the subject.
But for most, it is entirely possible to alter your state of emotion and change how you react to outside influences just by shifting your thoughts. For example, many people get upset when a child breaks or spills something. Unless someone is done physical harm, what is there to get upset about? Have you ever heard the saying, “don’t cry over spilt milk?” It’s a bit of good advice telling you not to whine about the accident, just clean it up and move on.
In my opinion, sometimes it’s really hard to get that one, nagging negative thought out of your head. So, I think that altering your way of thinking is more about prioritizing than anything else. In other words, pick your battles.
If you drop a dish or your child dumps Kool-Aid all over that new white rug, does it, in the grand scheme, really matter?
Assuming, of course, there is no malicious intent involved. After all, regardless of the political incorrectness of the idea, kids really are just bad sometimes. Either way, getting angry and blowing your top at yourself or the child isn’t going to put the dish back together or “unspill” the drink.
Now what if your husband decided to fire up the new grill he got for Christmas inside the garage? No, I don’t know why someone would even … never mind, just go with me here.
Now there is a potential danger to your family, it’s worth getting a bit more upset, but you have to control your thoughts to keep from becoming hysterical.
It will serve you better and help you remain calm if you focus on preventing a potentially devastating situation than to immediately punish your idiot husband. Take the proper steps, ensure everyone’s safety and solve the problem. That’s what I mean by changing the way you think.
Needless to say, altering lifelong behavior, good or bad, doesn’t happen overnight and it’s certainly not easy. It takes practice and diligence. Whenever something happens that throws your day into an uproar, try not to get upset.
Try hard to focus on a solution to whatever’s gone wrong and look forward to the positive outcome.
I’ve often argued that people make some of the most important decisions in life based solely on emotion rather than rational thought. Even the faithful are guided almost entirely by pure emotion. Making decisions actually becomes easier, and more productive when done from a logical perspective.
Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer based in Jamestown. More at www.gerydeer.com.