There is no more utterly human assumption than, “I think this thing, therefore, it must be true.” Our minds are machines constantly giving us thoughts, but just because your mind thinks a thing does not make the thing true. Taking a minute between thought and action to examine thoughts and determine their validity, worth, and truth can save us from some serious unpleasantness.
I’m at the grocery store. I walk past the cookie aisle. The Oreos are there just staring at me like, “YOU KNOW YOU WANT ME.” I think, “You’re so right. I really do want you, Oreos!” My next immediate thought is, “Ugh! Those are so bad for me! What’s wrong with me, what do I always want what’s bad for me! I’m such a failure!” And now, ladies and gentlemen we have a negativity-filled cookie sandwich of rude self-talk and I am in a terrible mood.
What if I pause my mind after that thought, “Why do I always want what’s bad for me!” to examine it. Is it true that I ALWAYS want what’s bad for me? No. Do I always make bad food choices? No. Am I a complete failure just for wanting cookies? No. So has anything terrible actually happened here in the store today? No. Do I need to continue to feel like a failure? Apparently no! So that means I can go back to feeling good like before the cookie lust incident. YES!
Categorizing thoughts as “good” or “bad” isn’t inherently hurtful – in fact, our discernment is crucial to make sure we are living as kind humans. But taking the space between thought and action is vital to sort it all out. Which leads me to the million dollar question, how do I even begin to calm the frenzied mass of thought swirling in my mind to ask which are true and which are lies?! The bad news; it doesn’t happen overnight. The good news; the simple desire to be mindful is an enormous step in the right direction. Once you open the door to mindful living there’s no going back. And as with any practice that we’re not accustomed to the more, you simply do the easier it becomes.
So start asking yourself if the things your brain is telling you are true and start living a little bit lighter.