A Shortcut to Living the Peaceful Life: Changing Our Minds

A Shortcut to Living the Peaceful Life: Changing Our Minds

Being willing to change our minds in the midst
of a seemingly unchangeable experience or set
of circumstances is what real growth is all about.
It's the door opener, in fact.

Being willing to change our minds, which means our thoughts, in all our affairs is the next major hurdle. And we can do it!

A Course in Miracles, a spiritual training made popular in the late 1970s by Jerry Jampolsky and then in the 1980s by Marianne Williamson, introduced me to the idea of shifting my perception to ease tension during a difficult situation. A Course in Miracles says that the shift is the "miracle," and it's one that is accessible to everyone and can change how we see every aspect of our lives.

Even though this idea may be unfamiliar to you, I think it's a rather unique and simple tool for immediate application. For instance, when in a conversation with friends or mere acquaintances, perhaps even strangers, we often discover that we don't share the same opinion about the subject matter under discussion. For some of us (and I admit guilt here), the red flag begins to wave at this point.

I'm Right, and You're Wrong!

In the old days, I felt it was my job, then and there, to convince others that however I saw the situation was the right way to see it. I wasn't much fun to be around. My argumentativeness was straight out of the rulebook I grew up with in my family of origin. Giving up the propensity to argue hadn't occurred to me. Being right was the point of every conversation, I thought. My fragile self-esteem demanded it.

Living in a constant state of agitation is where a perspective like mine ultimately takes you. Fortunately, I became open to living another way. I'm quite convinced that's why A Course in Miracles crossed my path. When the student is ready, the teacher appears, and I became that willing student, and little about my life has remained the same.

But how do we make the change, the shift, I'm talking about? That's where I take you next. It's really quite simple. It demands willingness, however, and we have to do more than give lip service to willingness.

Being Willing To See The Situation or the Person Differently

We have to be ready to give up our knee-jerk reactions to what others say. We don't have to agree with them — and won't much of the time — but we can learn to hold our thoughts and refrain from responding. We can learn to ask the Higher Power of our understanding for help to remain quiet, and we can make the tiny request to see the situation or the person differently. Perhaps you are thinking it can't be as simple as this. But I assure you, it is.

Changing our thoughts can be as easy as A, B, C. And that's the key to creating a different set of experiences that leads to the different life many of us deserve. One of my favorite ideas from A Course in Miracles is that we can and should substitute any thought we are harboring that wouldn't please God with one that would. This makes our choice of thoughts pretty simple. I consider it a shortcut to living the peaceful life, in fact. How we feel and see and think about our world is up to us. And only us.

Shift Your Perception Exercise: Changing Your Inner Picture of Someone

Changing Our Minds: A Shortcut to Living the Peaceful LifeLet's try an experiment. You no doubt have at least one person in your life who irritates you. Close your eyes for a moment and think of him or her. Think of the most recent time you were irritated by something that happened with this person. Now, draw into your heart a fond memory of you and a friend who seldom, if ever, irritates you. Now ask God to help you be willing to see the heart of each, seeing them both joyful, seeing them helping others and each other, too. Now watch yourself smiling on the two of them.

How do you feel inside after doing this experiment? Reflect and then write about this "interior" experience. I want you to feel and see the change within you.

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What was the first thing on your mind when you woke up this morning?

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If it was something positive, terrific. Savor that thought for recollection at a later time. If it was a form of grumbling, whether shared or simply quietly protected, what thought might you replace those thoughts with now?

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If your first thought this morning wasn't negative or if you can't remember what you were thinking, what negative thought troubled you recently? With eyes closed, revisit that thought. This will help you understand it so you can release it. Remember, "As we think, so we are." What prompted the thought?

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Is it a recurring thought? If so, when do you recall it first troubling you?

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Have you tried to release it in the past unsuccessfully? If so, using what method?

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Let's try this new method now: Quietly ask the God of your understanding to help you release the thought that wouldn't please Him. (It's also one that doesn't help you.) And choose one you know would please Him. For instance, what's the first loving thought that comes to your mind?

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Hold on to this thought for a few minutes. Share here what happens in your mind when you do this exercise. Does this exercise inspire you to think and behave differently? It should. If it doesn't, practice again and again until it does. You deserve peace of mind. We all do. And there is only one way we can be assured of getting it.

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Since what we think determines our behavior and our level of peace, what ideas do you want to savor right now? List them here.

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Now take each of the above ideas and create a short scenario that reflects that you understand how the idea would change your experience of life. We need to see what life can be like in order to make the commitment to changing anything about it.

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©2012 by Karen Casey, PhD. All rights reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Conari Press,
an imprint of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC. www.redwheelweiser.com.

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Getting Unstuck
by Karen Casey.

Getting Unstuck by Karen Casey.In Getting Unstuck, bestselling recovery writer Karen Casey invites readers to dig deep into their own patterns of behavior to determine where they've gotten stuck in their lives. Presented in a workbook format, readers write down and explore their answers to specific questions both to discern what's causing them unhappiness or stress and to develop strategies for getting unstuck.

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About the Author

Karen Casey, author of Getting UnstuckKaren Casey is a popular speaker at recovery and spirituality conferences throughout the country. She conducts Change Your Mind workshops nationally, based on her bestselling Change Your Mind and Your Life Will Follow. She is the author of 19 books, including Each Day a New Beginning which has sold more than 2 million copies. Read her blog at www.karencasey.wordpress.com.