Wonder: the key that unlocks state of mind

State of mind is the key to accessing contentment, resilience, creativity–all the things we seek by manipulating our circumstances. It looks like we will feel less frantic when we manage our time better, but the reality is that we manage our time better when we are less frantic. It looks like we will feel more peaceful and contented when we master our clutter, but the reality is that when we are peaceful and contented, we deal with clutter organically in whatever way suits the moment.

What, then, is the key to being in the state of mind from which peace and contentment naturally arise? As you may have discovered, trying to change your state of mind by effort or analysis doesn’t work. It may seem to work occasionally, but that’s an accidental coincidence of a natural shift in state of mind with the strategy du jour. There is a correlation, but no causation.

What causes state of mind to shift is insight. Some might call it grace. And while insight and grace can’t be achieved through effort, there is a way to court them: cultivate wonder.

Wonder has many flavors ranging from wide-eyed curiosity to honest doubt. What they all have in common is an open mind and the willingness to see something new. The degree to which your mind is open and the amount of willingness you have may be vast or tiny; it makes no difference. As long as you wonder honestly and with some degree of open-mindedness and willingness to see something new, you are hanging out where insight happens.

Neither this nor anything else I say is something to take on faith. It’s something to wonder about, to resonate against your own experience. I would love to know both what makes sense to you and what simply doesn’t match your experience. Please use the comments to share your perspective or feel free to email me.

Force doesn’t help us change or improve

Whether it’s replacing the memory in your computer, swapping out vacuum cleaner attachments, or improving your state of mind, forcing things never works. The key to finding grace, resilience, endurance, or whatever we really need in a given situation is to be with what is happening, not to fight against it.

Wendi Saggese and I ended up exploring this in some depth during the March Wholeness Hangout. You can watch the replay (or download the audio) here. 

You can settle down even when time is short

I received this comment on YouTube In response to last week’s video, Settling Down Comes Naturally.

This feels so true, Molly. It’s so hard to do when  you have important decisions to make with a time limit, when you feel your options are limited and you’re not liking any of them. Wish there was a button I could press to settle myself down!

This week’s video acknowledges how it can feel hard to settle down in urgent situations, but in fact, urgency does not need to ramp us up. When we see that being ramped up is a function of our thinking about the situation, not the situation itself, we recover the capacity to see clearly and act from a settled down place even when there are only seconds in which to make a life or death decision.

Activism without reactivity–the key to staying the course

There’s a huge difference between being activated/reactive and being awake and effective. You don’t need to fan the flames of righteous indignation or fear in order to stay awake. Becoming over reactive, winging yourself up, may create a temporary feeling of power, but it reduces your effectiveness. This is as true in civil discourse and political action as it is across the breakfast table.

You can use your awareness of the difference between being activated and being grounded to help you stay the course over the long term rather than riling yourself up, spinning out, and burning out.

Cultivating fear won’t create safety

In the wake of the election, I see many well-intentioned people fomenting fear as a strategy for making themselves and others safe. A state of chronic fear depletes us mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Fear is not sustainable, and fomenting it won’t make us safe. As we look around us, fear may arise, but let’s not fuel it. We don’t need to feed fear to be safe. We need to be awake, tell the truth, and love each other.

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