Last night, I was sitting in paradise. I was on the front porch of my country house, watching the most spectacular natural light show I’ve ever seen. Hundreds – maybe even thousands – of fireflies were out in force, making the air sparkle. The position of our house is in a valley, and so there is a dark mountain backdrop that accentuates the pinpricks of light even more. Even in all my years on the farm, on all those acres, I never saw so many fireflies in one place, so earnestly calling to each other with light.
While I was on the porch, it was completely silent except for the drips of gentle rain hitting the leaves. There were no cars, no electric motors, no phones or airplanes – nothing but nature itself to break the silence. It’s too early in the season for crickets and other than the rain there was only a very occasional chirrup from some night bird or chipmunk. It was complete and utter paradise, and exactly what I wanted.
Yet, all these crazy thoughts kept creeping up on me. Thoughts of bears wandering up on the porch, or coyotes sniffing at the edge of darkness, snarling in the night. There was no evidence that either of these things would occur, but they incited a palpable fear in me. Then I forced myself to “change the subject” in my mind and refocus on what was real and before me – silent and spectacular beauty. But the Fantasized Experiences Appearing Real kept coming back, interrupting my peace.
In Radical Honesty: How to Transform Your Life by Telling the Truth, Brad Blanton writes, “The source of personal power is the ability to interrupt your own mind.” Keeping myself present to the beauty of my life in that moment takes ongoing practice. I always say, “In the absence of information, the mind makes up negative stories.” What a powerful example of that I experienced then. In the clean, pure space that I was in, my negative thoughts overtook my enjoyment. Thoughts that had no actual basis in fact – they were all just stories I made up and then imagined so vividly that I had actual, physical sensations of fear!
It’s an easy thing to say “change your mind”, but obviously harder to accomplish. We’re all juggling so many things day to day that when our thoughts are left to wander, they often go to stressful, negative or in my case just plain, old unrealistic places.
I’d love this blog to be a place of discussion and shared experiences. What are some ways you manage to redirect your mind to what’s actually in front of you? Do you let yourself engage mindfully in the good times? Or do your negative thoughts tend to eclipse your blissful moments? Tell me your tips, tricks or just lamentations about something I think we all struggle with. Sometimes the best way to tackle a problem is to get some fresh perspective.