My alarm went off at 6:30 a.m, one winter morning.
Immediately my mind flooded with thoughts of tasks I needed to complete for the day. My muscles throbbed and my head ached from the stressful events of the week. I clumsily stumbled out of bed and into the shower.
As water trickled down my tense neck and shoulders I realized,“ I am not happy.” I wasn’t sure what the cause of this understanding was, or even what to do about it.
From that day forward I set out on a quest to find greater happiness and fulfillment.
In searching, I found The School of Metaphysics. The School of Metaphysics is a 501(c) (3), not-for-profit service and educational organization that teaches mindful practices and how to harmonize with Universal Laws and Truths. One truth that has shaped my life the most is described as, “ Thought is cause and the effect is its manifest likeness.”—this truth describes a Universal Law called the Law of Cause and Effect. Nothing happens by chance or outside the Universal Laws; we reap what we sow.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said that the Law of Cause and Effect is the “law of laws”—every human thought, word and deed causes a wave of energy throughout the universe, which in turn creates the effect whether desirable or undesirable. This is why good thoughts, words, emotions, and deeds are essential for living a better life in all ways.
Thoughts repeated over time manifest into our physical existence as experiences in our lives. The first verse of the Dhammapada, a Hindu holy work which is a collection of sayings of the Buddha in verse form, states that “ Our lives are shaped by our minds, we become what we think.”
Steps can be taken to transform unproductive, destructive thoughts into productive harmonious ones.
Step One: Introspection and Reflection Shining Light Towards Growth
We human beings often go day in and day out having multiple experiences which seem out of our control. Our schedule fills up, days and weeks and months and even years go by. In the tsunami of life’s events we forget to stop and look at where we have come from, where we are now and where we plan to go.
It is important to take time and reflect upon our choices. When we take this time of reflection we are better able to discern what thoughts are creating the conditions in our lives.
We do this by taking a moment to review the past few days: Maybe you had an argument with a coworker that is leaving you perplexed and on edge. This is called introspection; an inquiry within, which can aid you to look at why the argument occurred, how you feel about it, and what can be done to create resolve. In that space there can be a level of acceptance and equanimity, and it is from that place of equanimity that we are able to cause change.
Recently, I had an experience with one of my classmates, where I thought he was judging me. These thoughts upset me and we had a unpleasant exchange. Later in the day, I wrote out all my thoughts about the experience and the facts that occurred between him and I. As I wrote and reflected I started to observe the experience from a new perspective. I became objective, as I was able to see what was occurring within me. In the objectivity, I realized that he was not the one judging me—I was the one that was being judgmental of myself. This epiphany brought a sense of relief and peace of mind; I was able to let go of the hurt I experienced because I realized the thoughts I was having about myself were no longer serving me.
As I let go of the thoughts, I also let go of the hurt, and there was once again harmony between my classmate and I.
Step Two: Be Still to Know Who You Are
The reflection of the moon on an ocean can be seen when the ocean is still—the same is true about our minds. When our minds are still, we clearly see and hear ourselves. In the process of being able to quiet the mind and listen, we can tell the difference between truths and untruths. We can be more objective with ourselves and awaken to the thoughts we need to change to be happy, connected, fulfilled and productive.
To cause greater stillness sit quietly for a few minutes a day listening to the sound of your breath as you slowly inhale and exhale. In this process the mind will become still like tidal waves in the ocean calming down. Then you can truly hear the thoughts in your mind. As you know your thoughts, you will build a greater understanding of yourself. From the space of knowing your thoughts, you can choose the ones you want to think that match who you want to be, and what type of life you want to live.
Step Three: Take Inventory of You
Have you ever been surprised in receiving a complement about something you have done well, but you didn’t think much of it?
We take ourselves for granted, because we can’t always see the qualities we possess that are beneficial. Some would say we are our own worst critics. When we have clarity about our strengths and weaknesses, we are able to utilize and build upon them to become stronger in areas of weakness.
Make a list of all the qualities, talents and skills you posses. That way you know what you have! Then, seek out experts in the areas you want to improve, asking them to teach you what they know and how they know it.
For example, I am a natural at public speaking. Writing however is more of a challenge. Therefore, I decided to ask my teacher who is an excellent writer to teach me what she knows about writing. In recognizing that I have good thoughts to share and also realizing I need some assistance in putting those thoughts on paper, I was able to grow in the area of writing. That way I drew upon what I am good at to strengthen an area that needed more improvement.
Step Four: Accept your Strengths and Weaknesses
It is important to practice being honest. Sometimes it is easy to trick yourself in to believing things that may not be true. I have found that the more honest I am, the greater freedom I afford myself to change into who I want to become. It also aids me to deepen my connection, level of compassion and empathy with others.
A way to practice this is to stand in front of a mirror and state your thoughts out loud. You may hear yourself say, “ I am not a successful person.” Then, ask yourself, “ Is that really true?” If the answer is no, then it is important to let it go and replace the thought with something new and improved such as, “ I am successful.”
If the answer is yes, it is important to ask, “What can I do to change?” From that point, you can set some goals and take steps toward success.
A student I was teaching used to always put her self down; It didn’t matter how well she did on a presentation. Everyone would say to her that she had done well and she wouldn’t believe them. I knew she needed to acknowledge her strengths—she needed to look more closely at the facts.
One day I decided to video record her lecture then have her watch it. When she actually saw the presentation she looked at me and said, “Wow! In all honesty I did very well.” This brought her great joy and contentment, because she finally saw herself objectively instead of through the lens of not being good enough. She was able acknowledge her accomplishments, whilst also seeing areas in which she needed to improve, and became motivated to make changes.
This life is yours and you can shape it as you please. Remember, our thoughts cause our lives—if you want your life to change, you will need to change your thoughts. As you do, there will be a connection in you to all the good that is in the world. These steps will aid you to build a wonderful relationship with yourself and others, which will positively feed every area of your life. It all starts from the inside out.
So shape away, your life is your clay!
Author: Golbahar Dadyan
Editor: Erin Lawson