Day Two… Mind Carving
Actually, this won’t be about mind carving… the idea that as we think certain things, we gradually shape the sandstone canyon walls of our mind. I have to start one step before that, go back to our mind’s story for a moment and most importantly, how it causes us to filter reality. The thing about our minds is… we’re constantly ignoring details while magnifying others. I have led several friends through the following exercise to illustrate the human mind. I recommend you try it on someone. It’s fun. Have a friend memorize everything that is say… red… in a room. Tell her that there will be a test so be careful. After about thirty seconds, have her close her eyes. Now, with her eyes still closed, have her tell you everything in the room that is blue. The amazing thing is, even if it’s a familiar space, the brain will have so thoroughly focused on red, that it will struggle to pull what was blue even from long term memory. This tendency is at the very core of a life that is either devastating or fulfilling.
When Hamlet tells Rosencrantz and Guildenstern he feels Denmark is a prison, Rosencrantz says he and Guildenstern don’t think it is. Hamlet replies, “Well then, ‘tis none to you, for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. To me it is a prison.” In that statement, Shakespeare touches on the foundation for a truly fulfilling life, or a completely devastated one. If we feel our world is a prison, how will we filter it?
There is an anecdote I truly love in which a man walks into a new town and, seeing an old man sitting on a porch, approaches him.
“Hey old timer, I’m thinking about moving to this town, what are the people like?”
The old man says, “What are people like in your town?”
The younger man thinks for a bit and then says, “Oh they’re pretty good people I suppose. Kind and honest.”
The old man nods and says, “You’ll find people are like that here.”
The young man thanks him and goes into town.
That afternoon another man comes down the street and stops at the old man’s front gate.
“Hey old timer, I’m thinking about moving to this town, what are people like here?”
The old man asks the same question, “What are people like in your town?”
“Oh they’re terrible,” the younger man says. “They’re petty and dishonest, and mean spirited.”
The old man gives a small nod and says, “You’ll find that people are like that here.”
The filtering effect of our beliefs and our story is much more profound that most people can understand. These filters can be either profoundly uplifting or they can be severely devastating. The most important thing to remember is that, if they are detrimental, we generally built them as a defense mechanism based on some form of trauma, and those beliefs kept us safe from further harm. At least that was the intention. Yet, now those walls may be preventing us from living our best lives. It’s time to tear them down.
Tomorrow, I’ll discuss the surest exercise to begin breaking negative filters...