“The greatest weapon against stress
is our ability to choose
one thought over another."
— William James
[Classic post from 5-19-11]
I was talking with a friend and associate this morning and she mentioned that she teaches and advises people to do something in a certain way, and then sometimes finds herself not following her own advice. I could instantly relate to that because I do it myself from time to time. But, I told her that the difference to me now is that I have awareness, and having awareness serves to have me recognize when I am off the path, so I can get back on quickly, whereas, in the past, I may not have even noticed I was off the path.
Now the quote by William James is so powerful and true in my own life. I know this. And yet, I sometimes fail to have it operate on autopilot as I would like, find myself over in the weeds feeling stressed. This is where my learning and study kicks in and makes me aware that I am off in the weeds. This then allows and encourages me to get back on track with the truth in my life and change my thoughts.
It is human to run old tapes and get off track. It is the learning that brings me the awareness that helps me grow beyond and overwrite the old tapes. That is how learning empowers me. The path to enlightenment is through awareness.
Though what William James says is true for me from my awareness, on a practical side it is a challenge because of past training and interaction with other people and societal norms. Here are some things I've learned to help me overcome those practical obstacles.
1. Release all rules. Realize that so many of my thoughts are from past training and other people's rules. Rules are just ideas that someone had and others accepted. Many of those rules were turned into legalisms called laws. To think for oneself, especially if the world, in general, is not in step, requires ignoring a lot of rules; e.g., you should do this, you should do that, everyone does this, everyone does that, and so on.
2. Suspend judgment. Right and wrong are judgments. I need to suspend as many judgments as possible–all if I can. Judgments like I should feel this or I should feel that for whatever reason or whoever said it can just as easily be looked at with suspicion. Some of those judgments might say that you should feel sad about this and not feel joy about that. Can if you want, but I am choosing to feel how I want to feel, and I choose joy as often as I find it possible to do so, under a wide variety of circumstances and customs.
3. Choose to feel better. I want to choose a better feeling thought in every case and there is no end to feeling better. Feeling bad even slightly will now awaken my awareness and then I can consciously remind myself that I choose to feel better, and then do so by changing my thought. Without the rules and judgment, I have more power to change my thoughts and more power to feel better.
Stress is just a view and it is a fearful view. It is 100% thought. Without judgment to encourage the fear or rules to expand it, changing my thoughts to release all stress is practical and effective.
I Choose To Feel Better By Choosing A Better Feeling Thought Any Time I Want. I Want To Do So Often.
Spread Some Joy Today–Joy is alive and full of life and optimism. Joy is real. Joy is contagious.