In parts 1 and 2 of this blog, I showed how people’s irritation or bother over trivial events comes 100% from what goes on inside the person’s own mind, and is not actually caused by whatever it was that happened to them. In the example I gave, when I got woken up by my dog, my irritation came from my own thinking, not from the fact that I was woken up. I made the point that our ups and downs come exclusively from inside our heads, not from what happens in life around us, which explains why my husband and I get affected differently by being woken up early.
Now I’m going to suggest that this is true of everything that happens in life, not just in the trivial matters. For example, when people lose their jobs, you’ll see some people who have excellent prospects, savings they can use for the time being, and a 2nd income in the home, yet they live in a state of angst and insecurity about the future and are desperate and discouraged in their efforts to find work. And you’ll see just as many people who lose their jobs, have very few prospects, little or no savings, they’re the sole source of income in their household, yet not only aren’t they panicked, they’re actually philosophical and grateful for whatever they do have in life, and they’re creative in their job search. As people go through life, the internal or emotional state they live in day-to-day is not caused by having lost a job, what their finances are like, how their future is likely to play out – everyone’s internal state in any given moment does not come from the physical or secular world outside of us. Regardless of the circumstances we’re in, at any given moment, our internal state is caused by the thinking we’re having at that moment. If we’re jobless, the feeling we have about being jobless comes from whatever thinking we’re having. To say it simply, whether we’re up or down about life at any moment comes from thought. We feel our thinking. We don’t feel life, we feel our thinking about life in that moment.
This can be seen every day in life. If you watched the news after the hurricane in Alabama, there were people who’d lost everything they owned and were happy to be alive and felt blessed, while others who’d lost everything were devastated and grieving, both perfectly reasonable responses. In this example, one person’s thinking has to do with the fact that they’re still alive and there are others that were not so fortunate, and through the force of consciousness, that thought gives them a feeling of gratitude and humility. Someone else has thoughts of what they’ve lost and how they have to start all over again, and consciousness gives them a feeling of sadness and desperation. The force of mind gives them each a unique personal experience of the effects of the hurricane, independent of the variations in each other’s circumstances. This paradigm explains why we can be hopeless and desperate about a situation one day and calmer and more big-picture the next without the situation changing at all.
There’s nothing to do, nothing we need to change about ourselves, the way we think, or the way we live our lives. Somehow, to the degree that a person understands that their feeling in life comes from their own thinking, they take their own thinking less seriously, are less alarmed by the upset, anxiety, insecurity, and arrogance, because they see that it’s all up for grabs. That’s what happened to me in a way. I was stuck with being habitually annoyed and put out by the same kinds of things, and for whatever reason, I stopped to take a look at my annoyance, knowing it must come from my made-up theory about getting woken up. As soon as I looked in that direction, it all started to unravel. But even better is the fact that even when it doesn’t unravel or get better for us, just having the sense that whatever struggle we’re in always comes from within our own thinking, and as soon as our thinking changes, we’ll feel better no matter what happens in life. Ultimately we’re never really stuck with what we have.