The Secret Lies in Thought
Why do you suppose that small children don’t get hung up on things? I mean, they don’t hold grudges, they’re open and inventive, and momentary upsets are quickly replaced with marvel and joy. Simply put, youngsters seem to own some sort of secret to inspiration and happiness that most adults lack.
But what is the secret? And how do we adults get in on it the act?
The secret is that children possess an inherent understanding about their own thinking. And while adults possess the same understanding (you can’t lose it), layers and layers of misinformation over the years have innocently covered it up.
To illustrate, when my daughter, Chelsea, was young, at times she would tell me that she hated me. That is, she would say exactly what she was thinking when she didn’t agree with my opinion. If I said no to a sleepover, for instance, I was the worst father on the planet. But these moments were always short-lived since another thought would appear in Chelsea’s head and, in a flash, she’d be off in a new direction.
What’s interesting to note, though, is that this tendency did not apply to her positive thoughts. When Chelsea followed her loving or non-judgmental thinking she’d stay on that path for hours.
My message is that children intuitively recognize that we live in the feeling of our thinking—not the feeling of the world around us. Although Chelsea could not control when she thought negatively, she somehow knew that the wayward feeling that accompanied these thoughts was her guide to not go there for long—for if she did, her life would suffer. On the other hand, the free and peaceful feeling that accompanied her wonderful thoughts was her guide to keep looking in this useful direction.
For adults, and those young people who have forgotten, the implications of this understanding are immense. We cannot determine the thoughts that pop into our heads, but we certainly have a say about which thoughts to follow. Therefore, the key to contentment or productivity is not trying to think a specific way or judge yourself if the value of your thinking lowers. The key is seeing that all thoughts are neutral until you give them power.
Here, again, is the secret that you once knew as a young child: Your experience of life is tied directly to the fact that you think, not who or what you think about. That’s why young children automatically turn their back on thinking that makes them feel bad, and turn their attention toward thinking that makes them feel good—no matter the circumstance.
Actually, it’s a pretty simple secret, after all.
Garret Kramer is the founder of Inner Sports. His clients include Olympians, universities, business leaders, NHL, MLB, and collegiate players and coaches; and Garret often conducts seminars about his “inside-out” paradigm for performance excellence. He has been featured on ESPN, WFAN, FOX, and NPR; and in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Sports Illustrated. Garret is the author of the book, Stillpower: Excellence with Ease in Sports and Life, www.stillpower.com.