What do you want? A new car? A new house? A new job? More money?
Whatever it is, it’s not really what you want. What you really want is the feeling you think those things will give you. All we ever really want is a feeling.
Consider: if you had the feeling already, would you care about actually acquiring the thing? If you felt the security and abundance of wealth, would you care what the number on your bank account actually was? And if you don’t feel wealthy, even if you have ten million dollars in the bank, it’s not enough.
So where do feelings come from? They come from our thoughts — the ideas that we consistently hold and believe over time. My thoughts tell me what events mean and my feelings automatically flow from those assumed meanings.
If I think bedtime means I have to stop playing, I’ll feel sad and angry and I may throw a temper tantrum.
If I think bedtime means I get to rest when I’m tired, I’ll feel grateful and happy and go to bed without resistance. Same circumstance, different thoughts, different feelings, different behaviors, different outcomes.
If I think money in the bank means I can go shopping, I’ll feel excited and happy. I’ll go to the store and spend the money. Then I may have thoughts and feelings about having no money in the bank.
If I think money in the bank means I’m building my wealth, I’ll feel happy, I’ll avoid spending money unnecessarily, and over time I’ll have more money in the bank. Same circumstance, different thoughts, different feelings, different outcomes.
If I go to visit my parents thinking, “They’re so old and out of touch. They don’t understand me. They have nothing to do with me. They’re boring,” I’ll feel bored and alienated. I won’t want to listen to them while I’m with them. I’ll leave as soon as I can. My relationship with my parents will be weakened.
If I go to visit my parents thinking, “I wonder what they’re up to these days. I wonder what I can do to help them. I hope they’re healthy and happy,” I’ll feel interested and curious to see them, hear them tell me their stories about their doings, share my stories with them, and do what I can to help them out. We’ll have a nice visit and our relationship will be strengthened. Same circumstance, different thoughts, different feelings, different outcomes.
In each case, it’s the thinking that makes the difference.