Society has become so complicated. Technology, communication, science, education, new solutions based on research and development have all transformed the experience of living into a playground of opportunity, resources and convenience. And that's a wonderful thing. However, to achieve this, it seems we have become a society that focuses more and more on the details, the intricacies, the specialization of all fields. Although this has resulted in many interesting developments, it has also taken away from the bigger picture.
The process of advancing all areas of society is reliant on thinking. Theoretically, the more thoughts you have, the more you can channel those thoughts towards a defined goal that will improve life and enable you to succeed. Thought is valued immensely. The smarter you are, the more you think. The more successful you are, the more you think. We cherish thought like a rare jewel that we try to hold onto as often as possible. We think our way out of problems. We share our thoughts on social media and enjoy the positive reinforcement of all the likes we receive from our thoughts and opinions. We expound on intricate ideas based on our thoughts about things and can entertain ourselves and other people for hours if we want. We escape difficult situations in life by taking refuge in our fantasies, dreams and wishes. We curl up with our thoughts like a warm blanket to seek comfort and security as often as we can.
What about the other side of the picture? Thoughts can be our demise. The majority of clients who come to see me for therapy complain about how they think too much and have too many thoughts all the time. These thoughts interfere with the ability to concentrate, listen effectively during conversations and get a decent night’s sleep. Thoughts influence depression, fear, anger and rage, guilt, shame, resentment and grief, hopelessness, self consciousness and a myriad of other consequences of the over-thinking mind.
ADHD is at an all time high. According to the Attention Deficit Disorder Association, approximately 5% of adults have ADHD. That represents over 11,000,000 people in the US alone. And what does ADHD result in? Too many thoughts that are valued equally.
According to the National Science Foundation, our brains produce as many as 50,000 thoughts per day. Ninety-five percent of these thoughts are repeated daily, reflecting the mindset or beliefs from the past that lead to those 50,000 thoughts. When you zoom the camera lens back out and look at your thought processes from an outside perspective, you will see that all thoughts are focused on the past or the future. And even the thoughts about the future are based on past experiences that we use to decide how the future will play itself out. Thus, mind is memory. Thoughts are not about now. If you were truly in the now, the present moment, there is no thinking. It is just experience.
I’d like to suggest a new perspective of living life in a more fulfilling way through presence. Thoughts are fine, thoughts are helpful, thoughts make us thrive. The secret is to see the difference between thought and thinking. Overthinking is destructive. Attachment to thinking leads to experiencing unhealthy feelings and behaviors. Thinking takes us away from the reality of the present moment because we have a tendency to believe every thought we have as truth, fact and reality. Even more important, whenever thinking is engaged, a person is not fully present experiencing the moment that is occurring. They are experiencing their thoughts about the moment occurring.
To live a life of fulfillment, happiness and contentment, discover the presence that always exists. Experience the “is-ness” of each moment and enjoy the best present you will ever receive.