The first song I learned on the ukelele was “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley. Such a brilliant and simple tune whose message is–“Don’t worry about a thing, ’cause every little thing…gonna be alright.” I was singing it in the bath tub this morning.
Things ARE alright in my life. I feel happy and grateful most of the time but I have been noticing how easily I am swayed by the winds. When I experience any kind of stress or discomfort, whether it be hay fever or relationship issues or challenges in my work, I find myself getting caught up in it and thinking that things will never change or that I will never be able to handle it all. My mind makes it into something horrible and unmanageable. I just want it to go away and so I can feel good again; so life can be smooth and easy again. And when things are smooth and easy, there’s that tiny voice in the back of my head saying–Ah, be careful, be on guard. You never know what’s coming…
In some moments of clarity, I am able to gain a bit of distance from the situation and realize that the stories that my mind tells me are not true. They are just thoughts.
Our primitive mind is actually trying to protect us. It wants us to believe that things are stable and consistent, predictable and permanent so that we feel secure. It wants to try and solve problems and fix whatever seems wrong so we can feel in control. It wants us to judge events and other people as good or bad, friend or foe so we can feel safe. These ways of thinking are all to help us survive but as you can see, when these thoughts become pervasive, rather than feeling safe, secure and in control, we can end up feeling a steady sense that there is something wrong…and we may have a big fear of change.
Even when things seem to be going well, we can still have the sneaking suspicion that bad things could happen, that danger could be lurking around the next corner, that our very body may be at risk or that someone close to us could hurt us (even if this hurt is emotional and not physical). This kind of thinking would be great if we were out hunting bears or protecting our territory and resources from other tribes!! But of course for those of us who live in peaceful, developed countries, the real dangers we face are few. The majority of our fears are psychological.
We need to recognize that these thoughts in our brain are really just thoughts. As Tara Brach would say, our feelings may be real, but our beliefs are not necessarily true. For example, a person who is afraid of public speaking may experience intense anxiety when they get up to make a presentation in front of many people. This emotion is REAL. However, they may also have a tape playing in their head shouting–“Oh, my God. What if I make a mistake? I’m sure I’m going to screw up and make a fool of myself. What if they laugh at me? They’re going to think I’m stupid. This isn’t safe. I need to get out of here!” These thoughts are not TRUE.
What is true is that all life is impermanent. Things are ALWAYS changing. I think the more I can allow that idea to soak in, the more I am going to be able to live with peace and ease. Because our brain are wired to see negativity, it takes effort to focus on the positive.
If we start to believe that the universe is a friendly place and that everything is working for our highest good we can begin to live with less fear. We can see events and people as teachers all helping us to evolve. We can see the bigger picture of our lives and see how everything is connected. Then we can welcome change, knowing that it is all the natural process of life. Everything comes and goes. Just like the weather, we will have rainy days and sunny days. Our thoughts and emotions pass as clouds in the sky.
When we consciously intend to see the positive and the good, we can release our struggle. Instead of worrying, come back to the moment and see that everything is okay as it is right now. Instead of trying to control everything, let go and allow things to unfold naturally. Instead of complaining, think of all there is to be grateful for. Instead of judging, realize that the other person is really just like you. Instead of holding onto resentment, forgive the other person and realize they are doing their best. Instead of getting into a power struggle with someone, realize that you don’t have to make the other person wrong in order to feel better about yourself.
Consciously choosing our thoughts takes effort. A LOT of effort. But if we do not make this effort, our primitive brain can easily take over and fill our heads with negativity and fear. Our negativity will come up over and over again and we just have to keep remembering who we really are and what really matters. We have to keep reminding ourselves that this is just a ride. Life is a ride, a journey, an ever-changing adventure.
So don’t worry, about a thing, ’cause every little thing is gonna be alright!