Watching Thoughts Go By

There is so much that is easy to fixate on in our world today, from legitimate concerns to sensationalist news. And anything that feels worrisome can pop up and capture our attention, hardly letting it go. Before we know it our mood has changed, our attention has waned, our energy has dropped and we are upset by things that have intruded into our lives without any real means of resolution. At least that is how my life goes some days.

I picked up my mindfulness practice for a second time some years ago prompted first by my son, Gabe, as he investigated meditation as a teenager. And then bolstered by two CEOs who were at the time in one of my CEO peer groups, Stephen Gold and Lori Anderson. Thank you, Gabe, Stephen and Lori – you were a terrific trio to open that door up again for me. You probably didn’t even know you were collaborating on this particular outcome, but I am so grateful you did.

One of the greatest treasures of mindfulness is the opportunity to observe my thoughts, mostly irrational and even when they are logical, they are not necessarily helpful. My thoughts have been a great ally over the years, keeping me company and contributing to many of my best decisions. But, I have come to learn and relearn it is a mistake to think that I am them, or that they define me. Many years ago someone close to me said, “You’re not responsible for what pops into your head, but you are responsible for what takes up residence there.” The only way I have found to escort my thoughts out of my mind is simply by observing them, watching them go by. They dissipate on their own when I do not entertain them. I have my mindfulness practice to thank for that.

When you have a wonderful thought, enjoy it. And then let it go. When worries trundle through, note them and let them go, too. There are always others to follow along in their place. On my best days, my relationship to my thoughts is like my relationship to the weather, finding an aspect to enjoy whether the sky is bright or gloomy. I like the breeze. I like the rain. I like the sun and I like clouds, too. And I can take refuge in one fact: the weather will change. On my best days, I look forward to the change no matter from what to what!

I hope your week is filled with moments of joy, and you are able to enjoy them as they come and go.

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”
– Dalai Lama
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