Nearly all the pain and struggle I've experienced in my life has existed exclusively in my thoughts.
If someone were to look for my problems without having access to my thoughts, they would be nowhere to be found. They could look all day, but all they'd see is a guy sitting on a chair, with a frown on his face. 🤨
But in my thoughts, things are not good. My thoughts about how "behind" I am... My thoughts about how I'm doing as a dad, a husband, as a man... My thoughts about my impact in the world... My thoughts about the number of dollars in our checking account... My thoughts about others' thoughts about me...
It isn't that these things don't exist in any form in the tangible world, but the vast amount of pain and struggle I've experienced around these things has nearly always been a result of my thoughts about these things, not the things themselves.
I have zero dollars in the bank one day; it's a near-death feeling. The next day a huge unexpected amount hits my account; everything feels fine. What changed?
The fact is that the amount of dollars in my bank account is nothing. It's nothing. It's just ones and zeros. Someone could hack my phone to make it say "Checking: $1,000,000" instead of "Checking: $100," and I would experience a transcendent feeling of bliss like never in my life. Everything would seem possible. I would immediately become generous—not only with my money, but with my time, my attention, my heart. What changed?
It wasn't the money. It was me.
But the exact arrangement of those ones and zeros can make the difference between genuine feelings of insecurity, fear, and anger... or generosity, hopefulness, and joy. What changed? Only my thoughts.
My personal wellness has nothing to do with any thing at all, and everything to do with my thoughts aboutthings.
Much, if not all, of my efforts in the tangible world amount to me arranging things in ways which allow me to think the thoughts I want to think.
That is a lot of wasted effort.
Take every thought captive.
Our thoughts are no one else's job. It's not my spouse's task. It's not my child's task. It's not a task for my friends, or my company, or my audience...
My thoughts are my job. It's about time I stop trying to push that task onto everyone else and accept it.
Instead of demanding that the world organizes itself around a picture of what "needs to be" before I'll be happy, I can choose to be happy. Confident. I can choose to be okay. I can choose to accept that the thoughts that fill my mind day and night are no one else's doing but my own.
Take every thought captive.
If you feel angry today, if you feel worried today, if you feel content today, it is because of the thoughts you've chosen. It is not due to the stimulus. Yes, people do and say things we don't like. Things happen we don't want. But that is life. Life's happenings do not make us feel angry, worried, or content... our thoughts about the happenings do.
Our thoughts are our task. No one else's.
What would happen if instead of waiting until certain circumstances line up to make us feel okay, we just decide to be okay?
Paradoxically, those "certain circumstances" are much more likely to come into being once we've removed the oppressive weight of our personal expectations from them. But once we make this shift, it won't matter to us whether those circumstances come into being or not!
It's a form of generosity which can only be extended once our okay-ness is covered. If we cover our own okay-ness, we can be generous with others—our family, our spouse, our work, the entire universe—because we already have everything we need.
Now, the tangible world which we once held responsible for our okay-ness is no longer trapped beneath our desperate thumb. It is free to be what it is. Freedom begets freedom. And when things are free to be what they are, they expand, they grow, they thrive.
This tangible world cannot make us happy... but our happiness can absolutely support the expansion, growth, and beauty of the tangible world.
When we stop the old pattern of expecting others to do our task—when we finally accept our own task—the world around us is nurtured by our presence. The changes we long to see in our world truly do begin with us. That's not just a platitude. There is a direct connection between our inner health and the health of our tangible world.
It begins with us. With our thoughts. A major mind shift. That's our task. Everything else will follow.