Thoughts: Your Best Friends and Worst Enemies

Getting control of my thoughts—or rather disconnecting my sense of self from my thoughts—is a big thing in my own life.   I could easily make myself miserable by wanting things that I can’t have and that wouldn’t make me happy if I did have them.  Or by letting myself be eaten up by resentments over things that I can’t do anything about and that don’t matter to begin with.

A Way in the Woods

Maybe you don’t have any trouble with your thoughts, but I do. Thoughts pop into my mind without my permission faster than a mosquito bites my skin on a sweltering summer afternoon. And, equally without my permission.

Descartes, father of modern philosophy, pointed to both the distinguishing characteristic of human beings and to the biggest curse of human beings when he made his famous statement, “I think. Therefore, I am.”

The fact that you and I can think, reflect on the past, imagine the future, even to be conscious of our own consciousness is what distinguishes humans from all other animals. The fact that you and I can think, reflect and so often regret the past, imagine and so often fear the future, even to be unconscious of our own capacity to be conscious is the biggest curse humans live with and so try to escape from almost continually.

In…

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