One of the key ideas we use here at Choose Again is that “nothing outside of me can bring me anything I want.”
Many of us are already familiar with this idea. We know that "happiness comes from within.” Or at least we have learned to accept this, intellectually. As familiar as this idea may have become by now, it is always worth taking a pause over.
There is a great treasure buried underneath the simplicity of this statement - “nothing outside of me can bring me anything I want.”
In this blog, I would I like to offer a way I have found to “dig deeper” into this treasure. If nothing else, it can offer you a fun and thought-provoking way to think and reflect on a statement that might have already become a dry cliché.
So, allow yourself a few minutes in which to reflect, and to enjoy. If you have a journal nearby bring it, or you can use anything to write down what you will discover.
Start by asking yourself the following question:
Q: In this moment, what is it that I want?
Ask the question and then take a few moments to listen out to an inner response. Write down anything that comes to mind. Allow your mind to wander. Allow it to present to you some of the things that you might want or desire, at this moment.
Don't be spiritually correct. Don't judge. Just notice. You may notice, for example, that you are thinking: “I want more money, I want a better work environment, better relationships, more acknowledgment, more prestige….” Good.
Once you have gathered a small list, pick one item that stands out, and then move on to the next question:
Q: What would I gain by having this thing/situation/relationship?
For example – I have noticed myself thinking -“oh, I wish the situation in my workplace would be more harmonious.”
Now I can ask myself: What will I gain by having a harmonious workplace? What will I eventually get by having the situation change in this way?
After a little reflection I come up with the answer – “well – a more harmonious workplace will make me feel safer. I will gain a better sense of safety by having a more harmonious work environment”.
So, now I recognize that what I want is not the harmonious environment in itself. What I want is the sense of safety and security that (I believe) a change in my work environment would bring me. I am discovering that what I am looking for is a state of mind that seems not to be present now. I am looking for a "sense of safety."
If you do the same process with the item you have selected from your list you will - I’m quite sure - find out that it too points to a more fundamental desire. You will find that it reveals a more profound desire for a specific state of mind – e.g., love, security, self-esteem, freedom, joy, etc.
You can repeat this question with any (or all) of the items of your list. The more things you go through, the more you will strengthen a valuable insight:
What I desire - beyond anything specific - is happiness, love, security, self-esteem and freedom and other so-called "positive" states of mind.
In truth I never seek an object in itself, but always the state of mind I believe it contains and can bring me.
So having established that what I want is always a particular state of mind, we can move to the next question.
Q: Can I find this desired state of mind within the thing/situation/relationship itself?
With this we come to question a deeply held belief: that the cause - or source - of my desired state of mind is within the object that I seek.
Allow yourself to consider this question very literally. Can I find this desired state of mind within the thing/situation/relationship itself?
If to use my example, I can ask:
Is my sense of safety (my desired state of mind) found within my work environment (the thing I want to see)?
When I pause and think it becomes clear that the safety that I am are seeking, is not and cannot be within, or contained in the work environment itself.
The state of mind of a “sense of safety” - which is what I truly want - can never be found anywhere but in my mind.
Just to make the point more explicit: take for example three simple objects; a shovel, a tree, and a cup.
Ask yourself - can any of them contain any of my states of mind? Can my sense of wonder be “inside” a cup? Can my depression be “in the tree”? Can my joy be contained “in” a shovel?
Obviously not. These states of mind are always in my mind, and nowhere else.
Somehow I tend to forget this. I forget that all things, situations and -yes --even relationships are like the tree, the cup and the shovel – neutral by themselves. Empty of the states of mind of I tend to associate with them.
And since these objects do not contain the state of mind that I really want like happiness, joy or love, they cannot bring me anything I want. Only if these objects “had” happiness, love, joy, or peace within them could they offer these to me.
But they clearly don’t. Only my mind contains my desired states of mind and so only my mind can bring them to me.
And what my mind brings me, is up to me.
So if what I truly want is a sense of safety, I must look away from the situation at my workplace and look into the contents of my mind to find this sense of security. I must allow my mind to bring to me, or rather to reveal to me, this feeling of safety.
It’s no use to look for it outside of me. It’s like looking for my sense of amazement in a shovel. Or for my feeling of depression in a tree.
As insane as it might sound, this is what we usually do. I look for the experience of love in a relationship. I look for a feeling of safety in a situation. I look for a feeling of happiness and fulfilment in objects.
So now that I see how insane this tendency is, I may be more inclined to look more clearly at my life. I can see that the only “place” where I can find what I am actually looking for is within my self, or more specifically within my mind.
The peace, the love the happiness that I want is never, and can never be, outside me. They are always within.
If you have stuck with me so far, congratulations!
We have come together one step closer to discover what all the spiritual masters have taught. Love, peace, joy, freedom, happiness are within me.
Now I can stop looking outside for my states of mind.
Now I can begin to take full responsibility for the state of my mind.
And thank goodness for that. Because I can now stop the insane attempt to change the world so that it can give me my happiness. It’s just not there.
And so I need only to change my mind about the world.
I need only find out that what I seek is already, and always in me.
By Gad Sprukt
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