Breaking Free of Thought Indulgence
A fundamental part of saying "I Get To" is to help free you from the stress and suffering that comes from the non-stop thinking of our minds.
In our everyday lives, we are flooded with thoughts so thoroughly it's like a movie that we have no control over. We don't even know we are "in" a movie created by our minds. The key to happiness is to recognize that you are not the movie, but the one watching the movie happening. From that vantage point, sitting behind the noise of your mind, watching everything unfold, your mind gets quiet. You smile. And life gets fun.
Although we have moments and glimpses where we recognize the noise of life is not us, for the most part, the movie running in our minds is low level, just a natural part of living. It's "who we are." Things happen, and we react with a feeling of good, bad, or neutral. Most things are neutral, and life just moves forward.
Sometimes, however, we get so stuck on one recurring thought, and we can't step behind the noise. We think we might go crazy. I call this Thought Indulgence. It's those times when your mind whirls on and on about one thing that happened, or didn't happen, something you said or didn't say, or something else in life that has you obsessed with thinking one particular thought. This is when we really suffer. I know I've done it a lot.
So how do you break the spell of thought indulgence? Allow me to offer my recipe here in four easy steps:
- As soon as you recognize a thought indulgence, say to yourself, "I Get To have this thought." This moves you from the "victim" mentality of having thoughts beyond your control. Just this will help break the trance.
- Ask yourself, "Is this a thought I want to have?" Obviously not. But acknowledging this is part of the act of separating from it. At that moment, you step into the driver seat of your life by saying, "I want to change this."
- Create a folder in your mind called, "won't happen" and put the thought in there. It might sound silly, but that mental action alone can be a huge relief. For example, think of a blue elephant. Now, decide to put that thought in the "won't happen" folder in your mind. Let it go. Now think of eating an ice cream cone. Pause. Where's the blue elephant? In the "won't happen" file and gone from your mind.
- The final step is to be grateful for your life. Here's a tip to do this. Repeat in a whisper the words "Thank you" over and over. Thank you. Pause. Thank you. Pause. Thank you. You don't need to think of anything in particular. Simply say Thank You, and your subconscious will fill in what you are grateful for. Before long, you will have enormous gratitude for your life.
As you get free of thought indulgence, you can start applying Get To in general. I've written about this before, but it's worth repeating. In any given moment instead of saying, "I have to experience this," say, "I Get To experience this." No matter what you are feeling, no matter what you are doing, repeat it either out loud or in your head. I Get To experience this. Say it until you feel it. I don't have to; I Get To experience this. In that moment, you will feel gratitude and appreciation for your life. Your mind will get quiet, and you'll recognize the movie of your life. It's quite interesting.
I want to end with one last idea. The idea is that each of us is here, in our own way, to help each other wake up from the movie of our lives. To help others connect with the essence of life by having a mind that is free of incessant thought. My small way is to share the Get To Principle. Even if one person says, "I Get To" and smiles a little more lightly, I know I have done something good. Share it with others. Say, You Get To, and watch them smile.
-Ted Larkins, author of The Get To Principle