Optimism matters. We want to feel optimistic, that all’s right with the world, that whatever challenges we face, there is hope. When we are in an optimistic state of mind, we have a sense of being carried by life, by something that we can’t quite name or put our finger on; something that not only feels great but that we intuitively know will give us the resources we need to meet life’s challenges.Those of us familiar with the principle-based understanding of life would call that something ‘Mind’ – a formless energy that has a deeper intelligence that informs everything there is.
When our minds are calm and quiet, we’re in touch with that intangible something, and we know it by the feeling – feelings of love, joy, well-being, gratitude – to name a few. That mental quiet is the empty space between thoughts. When we have a thought and a feeling and the thought clears itself, we visit that mental spaciousness regularly. This is true of children, before the onset of mental habits, and of adults who have gained an understanding of the three principles of Mind, Consciousness and Thought, and how they reveal the inside-out nature of life.
One of my clients, a successful real estate developer named Gary, is learning about this understanding. It’s been helpful, but he still loses touch with it sometimes and gets caught up in the illusion of thought when the going gets tough (don’t we all). This happened recently when an issue came up in his marriage that he has a lot of difficulty with. After he discussed it with me, I asked Gary if he had remembered that the feelings he was having were coming from thoughts in that moment. “No,” he said, “I couldn’t. I was too caught up in trying to fix the problem. I felt like I had to do that before I could do anything else.”
This is a common mistake so many of us make. When we get caught in the illusion of our thinking we feel like we have to fix whatever the perceived problem is before we can attend to matters like our state of mind. But those are the times when we need our mental bearings most. This is why our heads clear when we’re in a really big crisis – a fire or an accident, for example. Many people report that in these situations they were surprised to find themselves in a flow of thoughts that showed them exactly what to do. I assume that nature designed it this way to ensure the survival of our species – if our minds were muddied with a lot thinking in a crisis our chances of surviving would greatly decrease.
The understanding of the inside-out nature of life gives us that lifeline on a moment-by-moment basis as we go through our day. As long as we know that there is only one place to look – our feelings – and their source – Thought- (and its source – Mind!) our awareness of our feeling states grows. As it does, and we remember its source, much of our unnecessary and unproductive thinking withers on the vine. Saying that you can’t remember about your state of mind until you’ve fixed your problem is like someone who cried out in their sleep and, when their friend tried to wake them, said, ‘I can’t wake up until I’ve killed the monster who is chasing me!’
Optimism is a natural state of mind that is really our default setting. It’s what our minds return to when thoughts clear themselves and settle on a regular basis, as they do when we are in our mental well being. From there, getting good ideas to meet life’s challenges is a no-brainer!