Life is full of greatness, and full, really full of crap.
Look for what is great in life and, within the possibilities, leave the crap aside.
I recently sent this thought on my WhatsApp group*. I don’t remember exactly how it originated… I think it started with a YouTube video my son was showing me, a somehow well done and entertaining but completely pointless video.
And it is not only life – the outside world – that is full of nonsense, but also our minds are full of useless thoughts, beliefs, ideas and points of view.
We need to ‘cut through the weeds’, cut through the crap – both outside and inside – and find the useful, the intelligent and the wise.
Just because something is offered to us, it does not mean we need to take it.
The world and our minds offer us an infinite variety of possibilities, but we need to be attentive enough to be able to take what is good, what is useful and beneficial, and discard what is not, even if it is pleasant, attractive or enjoyable. And this is not easy to do, and one important reason for it is that the majority of people do not do it.
How can it be, just to use an example, that a program like the The Kardashians is so popular? It is not that the program is not well done, I think it is, the problem is that it offers nothing at all that an intelligent and mature human being needs for its own life.
And just like the Kardashians are outside on TV, we also have ‘Kardashians’ inside of our minds.
The crap will not stop coming – and I believe that as the technology advances, more and more of it will be very easily available -, but we need to learn to cut it out from our lives.
And just like we should not look at everything that comes on TV, we should not pay attention to everything that appears in our mind; we need to choose, to discern ‘the beauty from the crap’.
It often seems as if our head has a life of its own, and keeps moving and doing and working and thinking and planning on and on and on, almost without end.
The mind is almost all the time full of noise.
Yes, from where I see it, most of what the mind does is noise.
Thinking, an amazing and beautiful possibility we are given, is the intentional processing of information, which requires attention and, using memories, reasoning and rational judgment, can select appropriate responses and actions.
Here, the word intentional is fundamental.
But most of the time this is not what happens; instead, there is only an inattentive movement of the mind, without any intentional aim or purpose. This inattentive movement of the mind is not necessarily bad in itself. The so called day-dreaming can be a natural and healthy resting state of the brain, when done sporadically. The problem, the huge problem, is when we spend most of our time lost in our mind, lost in this incessant noise that the mind generates, worrying, planning, thinking, thinking, thinking.
And thinking without aim is like noise, but a very particular kind of noise. It is a noise that contains a lot of opinions about things, lots of beliefs, theories, conjectures, hypothesis, presumptions and suppositions about all and everything. It is a noise that is not just completely chaotic sounds, it has some sense – and this is what gives it the power that it possesses. But because these beliefs and ideas have no attention behind them (they are mostly formed out of past conditioning and blindness) they are not very intelligent nor wise.
This is why just allowing this noise in the mind indiscriminately is very often quite destructive.
Things are not what they seem, and to come closer to how things actually are, to the reality of life itself, or even just to the truth of what each moment offers, we need to be more attentive to our own thoughts, more attentive to the way we think and construct our ideas and responses, more attentive to the beliefs that surface in our minds.
In order to have a choice, in order to discern ‘the beauty from the crap’, attention is fundamental.
Without attention, there is no choice, even if it seems that ‘I am choosing to look at the Kardashians’, or ‘I am choosing to get upset with you’.
Without attention, choice is done TO US, we don’t make it ourselves.
Choice is like a gift we are given, and it depends completely on the quality of our attention. What often seems to be a choice is nothing but conditioning and ‘mind hacking’, all the forces coming from a corrupt society trying to convince you to behave, think and feel in the way that is convenient to it.
And one of the most important things we need to avoid is our narrow minded, negative, pessimistic, corrosive thoughts that often appear in our minds.
Thoughts that say things like: “I’ll never be good enough”, “They must think I’m an idiot for saying that”, “I am sure this is going to turn out badly”, “I am a failure”, “I am so stupid”, etc, etc.
These negative thoughts are not useful, not at all. We need to detect them and take their power away from them.
By realizing that they are not saying the truth, that they are not useful nor beneficial for our well-being.**
We have a choice about our lives, but that choice is completely dependent on attention.
We can give ourselves the best of lives, but for this, discernment, the recognition of what is great and what is crap, is fundamental, both outside in the world and, especially, inside of our minds.
* I have started a group in WhatsApp for everyone interested in presence, that has read my book, is currently participating in the yoga classes, has participated or would like one day to participate.
I limit the messages to maximum 1/day (and often less) to send little reminders, quotes, small exercises, invitations to events, new notes on the blog, the schedule for the week, new classes, etc.
My hope is that the quotes and exercises may help people pause the momentum of the day and bring them back into their own presence, into themselves.
If you are interested you can join the group here.
** There are several notes in my book About Presence precisely about how to differentiate between our thoughts. Notes like: A Matter of Choice, Life is Not What I Think, Thoughts as TV Channels, On Not Knowing or Freedom From Our Stories, and several others.