“I think and think and think, I‘ve thought myself out of happiness one million times, but never once into it.” ― Jonathan Safran Foer
Note: There’s an almost word to word transcript of this video further down.
We aren’t born thinkers. We become thinkers. We learn to think and while thinking is an amazing capacity and a blessing in so many ways, it also becomes a curse as it takes us away from our joy.
You cannot force yourself to stop thinking. But you can embrace your thinking with your awareness.
Here’s a simple practice that will help you become more familiar with your own presence – and have a more peaceful night too!
I have been thinking… I have been thinking a lot along my life. And I am sure you have, too. It is a strange thing because when I look at a baby or a small child, they do not appear to think that much. They play, they are joyful many times, most of the times perhaps. They explore, they experience and maybe they think too but it does not look like they do.
But then they go to school… just like you did and just like I did. We go to school and our mental capacity becomes bigger and bigger and bigger and it is a fantastic thing! Remember how when you were a child you learned to count to ten? Yiy would go ‘one, two, three, four and one, two, three, four… I can count! It was fantastic!
And then there were other things, more things that you learned. And your thoughts became bigger and more advanced and there were just more and more of them.
Somewhere along the way you started experiencing less joy and less playfulness and more thinking.
And also along the way, if you are like me and most other people, at some point you found out that this mental capacity enables you to have inner conversations as well. So you could use it …. when there was a challenge or a problem or something you wanted to understand or just deal with then you could think about it. I’m sure you still have those deep conversations with yourself.
It became a reinforcing process, I guess, this ability to analyze, understand, think through, growing bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger… and that is fantastic too! Perhaps it became your livelihood. Perhaps it is the thing that enables you to have the work that you have or maybe it enables you to impress people with how bright you are. I know I have done that a lot in my life because I found out I felt more worthy this way… If I could appear bright and intelligent my insecurity didn’t show so much.
And it grew more, that intelligence, that mental activity and along the way, it has become both a blessing and a curse for most of you. Don’t you find?
I mean, thinking is a blessing, it is helpful in so many ways and it is so interesting. Thinking is a creative activity in a sense: you figure things out and get new thoughts and thinking becomes a way of creating connections that were not there.
It is interesting but at the same time and perhaps because it is so easy for us to think, this mental capacity takes more and more of the inner space that you have. Don’t you find?
It is so easy to get so occupied with your thoughts that you forget your body, or to be so occupied with your thoughts that you forget your feelings. Or get so occupied with your thoughts that you forget your intuition.
Until at some point it becomes too much and at that point you start longing to just be, to not think all the time, to not be mentally active all the time. Maybe you also long to connect with people in a different way.
I remember I had this experience. It was a New Year that I spent with a dear friend. We were sitting in the morning and had shared breakfast and were having one of those deep conversations about life and whatever… At some point in the conversation, I noticed that I was kind of keeping my friend at a distance. I was kind of keeping myself at a distance by being as clever as I was, by saying all those insightful things that I was saying. There was a part of me that just wanted to be there. There was a part of me that just wanted to smile and to express that I care for my friend and that I love my friend.
Do you ever have the feeling that this best part of you, this amazing mental capacity, all those words that run through your mind or come out of your mouth, that it also stands in the way of your true expression, of something that might be you even more? This part of you that maybe is silent or maybe just smiling… Do you ever feel that? I do
If you are like most of us and this mental part of you is very active, then it can be difficult to stop thinking and to stop wording and to stop analyzing. So don’t. Do not try to do that but see if you can just be aware of your thoughts, or be aware of you thinking, or be aware of what you say.
There is a part of you; it is almost like it is in your body. It is almost like an ability to sense and to share. That awareness can also sense and be aware of thoughts and of words.
Would you like to try that for some time?
Try to notice. When you think, notice the thinking. When you speak, notice the speaking.
And again, it does not mean that you have to stop thinking and speaking, it just means be more aware.
I notice right now as I speak of it, tha twhen I am more aware of what I say, and that I say it and that I think it… then I feel my body more. Then it is like words and thinking… I experience them differently right now. It is more like part of me, it is not all of me. It is part of my expression — It is not all of my expression. I can almost feel like a tingling in my body – I feel the energy. I feel more relaxed. I feel less that I have to say something very wise right now because I am on camera.
It is the same when you talk with someone; it is the same when you are with yourself. Be aware of it and see how it feels. It is a great experience!
Please share your experiences and thoughts about thinking here (isn’t that funny?) – and then share the post. Someone will be glad you did!