March 20

If you can't help it,
don't think about it.

Carmel Myers


Today's Meditation:

It would be interesting if we could find out just how much of our mental energy is spent on things over which we have absolutely no power or influence.  How much of our time is spent thinking about--even agonizing over--things which are completely outside of our sphere of influence.  I see people getting upset about things that other people do, upset about how their favorite team did last night, upset about the price of gas, upset about the fact that so-and-so is divorcing so-and-so, and on and on and on.

So much of what we think about falls into this realm-things that we can't do anything about at all.  One of the most important moments of my life came years ago when a counselor told me:  "You spend lots of time thinking about things that you have no control over.  What would your life be like if you spent all that mental energy focused on things that you do have control over?"

It's taken me many years to get half-way decent at it, but I'm now able to recognize when I'm focused on something that I can't help, and to switch focus to something that I can actually help.  I can't change the results of yesterday's elections, but I can make sure that my students get a lesson that's valuable to them.  I can't change the mistake that I made yesterday, but I can make amends for it.  I can't change today's weather, but I can dress properly for it and focus on the things that need to be done today.

I don't believe that Carmel is implying that we shouldn't think at all about the passing of a loved one--we can't help that, but we can try to help others work their ways through it.  Some things that we can't help still deserve our attention, be they times of mourning and grieving or times of celebration.  But for the most part, in our normal day-to-day lives, we'd spend our time much more productively thinking about the things that we can help rather than thinking about the things that we can't.

Questions to consider:

What kinds of things do you spend most of your time thinking about?

How do we get into the habit of thinking about things over which we have no influence at all?

How might you recognize when you're thinking about things that you can't help, and switch your focus?  What kinds of strategies might you use?

For further thought:

There is a criterion by which you can judge whether the thoughts you
are thinking and the things you are doing are right for you.  That criterion is, Have they brought you inner peace?  If they have not,
there is something wrong with them--so keep trying.

Peace Pilgrim


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