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How to Find Your Way Towards Consciousness and Calm

How to Find Your Way Towards Consciousness and Calm

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    When Thinking Gets in the Way

    Lately I’ve written much about the chaotic mind, the propensity we have to over-think and the inability so many of us have to escape the internal noise, get out of our thoughts and find our way back to a little tranquility. Or as Happy Gilmour calls it, our Happy Place. Being constantly trapped in our stinkin’ thinkin’ can be a ticket to depression, anxiety and stress… not to mention the possibility of those less-than-desirable decisions, behaviours and outcomes. If you’re a chronic over-thinker, you know exactly what I’m talking about. All too often our thinking gets in the way of our happiness and our peace of mind. And our career. And relationships. And potential. And health. And… the list goes on.

    The realisation that “I am not my thoughts” can be a very liberating one for people who not only identify strongly with their thoughts, but actually become their thoughts. In case you’ve never been told, I’ll tell you now:

    You are not your thoughts and your thoughts are not you.

    Thought Happens

    Thought happens automatically, independently and continually, as do all of our internal processes – circulation, respiration, chemical reactions, sweating, vaso-constriction and dilation, digestion, healing… and many more. Yes we can choose what we do with, or about, our thoughts, and yes we can ‘manage’ our cerebral landscape to a point, but the human condition means that thoughts will constantly arrive in our head, like a never-ending stream of cars pulling into a petrol (gas) station. And naturally, many of those cars aren’t vehicles we wanna drive.

    What the…?

    We’ve all had those completely weird “where-the-F-did-that-thought-come-from” moments. Surely you remember that time when you fantasized about killing your annoying neighbour because he played his music so loud… okay, maybe that was just me.

    I knew I shouldn’t watch Dexter before bed.

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    Of course there is also conscious thinking on our behalf – which usually comes in the form of problem solving, strategic planning, memory recall and organisational thinking, but in truth, much of what happens at that gas station above our shoulders is – despite us.

    It just happens. And happens. Like waves crashing on the beach.

    Finding our Way to Consciousness

    The beginning of consciousness and inner freedom is having an ‘awareness’ of our thoughts without necessarily being completely identified with them. Observing them without being ‘in’ them. The relevant picture I have in my mind is of me standing on one side of an old timber fence, with my arms and chin perched on the top. On the other side of the fence my thoughts parade by me like models on a catwalk. They are unaware of me but I can see them clearly. They are mine but they are not me.

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    In this place, I am merely an observer of my thoughts.

    In this place I have the choice of investing time, energy and emotion into those thoughts… or not.

    The Observer

    Once I become the observer and not the inhabitor of my thoughts, I have the ability to move from mental and emotional incarceration, to total freedom. Freedom to create an existence beyond the confines of my conditioning, my social programming, my fears and my (once) destructive thinking. Freedom to create an identity, reality and purpose beyond my chaotic mind. And freedom to discover who I am and what I can become, beyond my thoughts.

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    Feel free to borrow my fence.

    More by this author

    Craig Harper

    Leading presenter, writer and educator in the areas of high-performance, self-management, personal transformation and more

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    Last Updated on January 21, 2020

    The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

    The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

    Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

    your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

      Why You Need a Vision

      Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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      How to Create Your Life Vision

      Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

      What Do You Want?

      The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

      It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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      Some tips to guide you:

      • Remember to ask why you want certain things
      • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
      • Give yourself permission to dream.
      • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
      • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

      Some questions to start your exploration:

      • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
      • What would you like to have more of in your life?
      • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
      • What are your secret passions and dreams?
      • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
      • What do you want your relationships to be like?
      • What qualities would you like to develop?
      • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
      • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
      • What would you most like to accomplish?
      • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

      It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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      What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

      Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

      A few prompts to get you started:

      • What will you have accomplished already?
      • How will you feel about yourself?
      • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
      • What does your ideal day look like?
      • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
      • What would you be doing?
      • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
      • How are you dressed?
      • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
      • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
      • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

      It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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      Plan Backwards

      It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

      • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
      • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
      • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
      • What important actions would you have had to take?
      • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
      • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
      • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
      • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
      • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

      Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

      It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

      Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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