April 20, 2021


Lenten Rose 02 Oil Paint Rendered — Charlotte, North Carolina
If you are not essentially happy
with yourself and your way with life,
you need to transform your relationship
with the way things are.

If you think you are not happy enough,
think that you ought to be more happy
than you are,
spend time thinking about your level
of unhappiness
and your desire to be happier,
you need to transform your relationship
with the way things are.

If you are thinking that no one could be happy
in a stinking old life like yours is,
living where you do,
with chances that alternate between fat and slim,
and prospects that are even worse than that,
you need to transform your relationship
with the way things are.

Specifically, you need to stop thinking 
that your happiness is dependent upon
and flows from the way things are,
and start thinking that your happiness
is dependent upon 
and flows from the way you think
about the way things are.

Change your way of thinking
and you improve your happiness quotient 
just like that (snaps fingers).

Step #1 is to stop thinking at all.

In order to do that,
we first have to slow our thinking down.
We do that by thinking about our thinking.
Sit still.
Be quiet.
Watch your thoughts.
Count the thoughts you have
over a span of sixty seconds.
This will be your reference marker.

Continue to watch your thoughts
and categorize them--
and as you categorize them,
notice what emotions are connected with them.
Which categories of thought
or come with what emotions attached to?
Notice the instantaneous connection
between thoughts and emotions.

Become curious about that.
About the relationship between thoughts
and emotions.

What are your predominant emotions
throughout each day?
What thoughts generate those emotions?

Take up the work of separating
thoughts from emotions.
Practice having thoughts with no emotions attached.
Notice how changing your thoughts
changes your emotions.
Think of your breathing--
count your breaths to ten,
and start over if you think about something else,
and notice how your emotions change
just by focusing on your breathing,
paying attention to your breath,
and counting the breaths you take.

Notice how when you are not in the grip of emotions,
when your emotional level drops to nothing,
the default, residual, emotion is peace.

Peace is the absence of emotion,
and the foundation of happiness.
And it is strictly dependent upon
the type of thinking you do.

Step #2 is to think without judgment or opinion.

Think about the things that stir you to intense emotion.
And think about separating your thoughts
from your emotions.
Think the thoughts without judgment or opinion.
Do not judge or form opinions about having the thoughts.
Think them with no judgment or opinion at all,
on any level.

Take up the practice of thinking without judgment or opinion.
Think neutrally.
Think without taking sides.
Think without being shanghaied, 
and held hostage
by your thoughts.
Think without judgment or opinion.

And let peace like a river carry you away
from the intensity of emotional involvement
with your thoughts
to the blessed place of having thoughts without 
emotions attached.

The more you practice separating your thoughts
from emotions,
the more peace you will experience
and the happier you will be.

The more you give yourself over to emotional thinking,
the less peace you will have
and the more unhappy you will be.

The Jon Kabat-Zinn YouTube videos
(Shortest ones first)
on Mindfulness Based Stress Reductiopn
are excellent sources
for learning to distance yourself
from your thinking
and from the emotions your thinking arouse. 

At this point in the program,
I turn you over to you.

Published by jimwdollar

I'm retired, and still finding my way--but now, I don't have to pretend that I know what I'm doing. I retired after 40.5 years as a minister in the Presbyterian Church USA, serving churches in Louisiana, Mississippi and North Carolina. I graduated from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, in Austin, Texas, and Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. My wife, Judy, and I have three daughters and five granddaughters within about twenty minutes from where we live--and are enjoying our retirement as much as we have ever enjoyed anything.

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