I have been reading about thoughts lately. I know that sounds a bit weird, but when I was in court a few weeks ago I watched this grandmother talking to her grown grand-daughter about how thinking too much gets her in trouble. I remember my own mother telling me that in my teens. “Thinking is good,” she said to me, “but, thinking too much will get you in trouble.”
I have also been quiet lately – talking less since my radio shows are pre-recorded for the summer months – and listening more. I listen for message from the universe, from people far wiser than me and from the littlest sages – children. They are unknowingly wise.
What I have come to understand about thoughts is that they do directly affect how I feel. I also learned through a bizarre example of the human condition that the past is really a collection of thoughts that come up and affect our mood. I was listening to a woman speak about her husband who had suffered a head injury and lost his memory and that he was very pleasant to be around after the traumatic event, when before he was a nasty old coot!
I experienced this with my own paternal grandmother who truthfully did not like me very much because I was a skinned-knee, outspoken, loud tom-boy and not at all the picturesque delightful little German girl in white socks and black shiny shoes. But, when my grandmother succumbed to memory loss, dementia and health issues that robbed her of who she “thought” I was, we had a delightful time pouring over magazines in the nursing home commenting on hair, fashion and of course…handbags.
This experience and listening to my mom and the woman in the courthouse got me thinking. What are thoughts anyway? Interpretations of events. Are our memories simply a collection of thoughts about a particular time, place and event and if erased, do we lose the pain carried forward by them? I emphasize the pain because I think we all remember painful things more clearly than happy times. It’s part, I think, of the human condition.
Then I thought about the future. Planning, guessing, worrying and thinking are yet another collection of thoughts. These thoughts can make me feel happy, sad or anxious or excited. Even over the same event. Let’s examine this with dating.
- Past thought: Divorce hurts and I am not married anymore. (feel sad, lonely, scared)
- Past thought: Divorce hurts but I am free to create a new life. (feel excited, happy)
- Future thought: Divorce hurts and I have a date Friday. (feel nervous, insecure, scared)
- Future thought: Divorce hurts and I get to go on a date on Friday! (feel excited, happy)
Okay so what we have here is the same situation but with a variation on the thoughts and feelings associated. See how each one can affect mood?
Well, since thoughts can be changed and thoughts can be chosen, doesn’t it stand to reason that monitoring our thoughts – thinking about what we think – knowing that the past and the future are merely thoughts – means we can really have a better life by staying in the present? Thinking about what is going on right now. Making the best of it. Enjoying what we have. And all the while knowing that what happens today will be tomorrow’s memory and was yesterday’s future?
It’s a lot to chew on. It’s taken me over 40 years to figure out what it means to be present. I thought being there was enough, but now I get that thinking about the past and future are just a collection of thoughts. I now limit my past and future thinking to only what is necessary to get things done with respect to living in the now.
So my mom and the grandma in court were right. Of course, the irony is, I had to think about thinking in order to figure it out.
Bouncing with Style is all about realizing when we know better, we do better. Thoughts can be changed. The future and the past are just a collection of thoughts and monitoring how we and how much time we spend there can make the difference between a bad day and a good day right now!
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