Keeping the Peace

When I started this blog, I had a goal to publish as often as I felt comfortable. Which it turns out is pretty often. When you have had a few years of working up to a Big Goal, you have some pent up energy that needs to come out. And this writing gig is giving me the perfect outlet for all my ideas.

Seth Godin once famously said, Everyone needs a blog. And I don’t disagree. I would simply refine the statement to say, Everyone who wants to express as their true selves needs a blog.

I come to this conclusion because blogging, for me, was an outlet that I had disdain for before I launched into it. I assumed that giving my writing away for free made me a schmuck, or someone who was desperate to share. Now, I see the blog platform as the greatest thing going, as it gives us all a place to showcase our big ideas. Here is mine: we all express ourselves in order to find peace.

we all express ourselves in order to find peace

The internet is awash with people showcasing themselves, and I love it. I love seeing what lights other people up, what sorts of tips or tricks they have to share, and what makes them smile. I never tire of a list of ideas, or even a viral way to order a sandwich at your local chain restaurant. What I have come to realize is that we are all expressing ourselves in a way that allows our true selves to emerge. And that emergence is good for all of us.

When I express myself, I am more likely to feel that I have been heard. Regardless if anyone reads this or not. When I express myself, I am more likely to know and see my thinking, which is always a good thing. When I express myself authentically, which I make a practice to do, I find that my inner demons settle down and leave me alone. So, expression — for me — leads to inner peace.

What expression doesn’t do is change my mind. That’s a task that I take on, on my own, after I have witnessed and noticed my own thinking. But I can’t get to the change part of the process until I get to the noticing part. And many of us are so repressed that we have a hard time noticing what we truly think.

I am not here to advocate for bombastic diatribes and outbursts of negative thinking. I am here to suggest that if we were all a bit more honest with how we think — even if we kept that thinking to ourselves — we would be in a position to heal what we think. In fact, I am pretty sure we can’t heal our thinking until we notice our thinking.

Noticing my thinking is enhanced, for me, when I write down my thoughts. When I let them all pour out: the good, the bad, and the ugly. When I let every errant thought get some sunshine by giving it my attention, and then asking myself, is that what I really think? Or, more to the point, is that what I want to think?

It is only through noticing that I can come to terms with my ideas. It is only through noticing that I can begin to shape my own thinking. It is only through noticing that I can begin to reclaim my mind as my own.

That’s what Practical Spirituality is about. A process for changing your mind so that you can decide what you believe, regardless of what anyone else says you should believe. It’s a process I recommend for everyone: taking stock of what you think and then deliberately choosing the beliefs that work best for you. And that process begins when you start expressing.

Most of us have a jumble of ideas floating around our heads for most of our waking moments. If you fail to express yourself — even if only to yourself — then those thoughts seem to swirl and chase you as an amorphous bag of mixed ideas that have no organization. Once you stake a claim for what you believe, then it’s as if all those thoughts line up and say, this is what we think. Out pops a belief. If you allow yourself to stew without expressing yourself, then I imagine that you feel confused, uncertain, or even off. When you allow those thoughts to organize for you, then you are taking on another’s beliefs. When you do the work of thinking for yourself, based on what feels true to you, now you are in the driver’s seat for your own life. Which is exactly where I want you to be.

I have my own beliefs. I, on occasion, will share them. I have zero expectation that you will always agree with me. In fact, I prefer that you didn’t. My own beliefs change over time, and I would hate to be locked into a belief just because I convinced you of it. I would much prefer that you make your own conclusion. And to change your mind when it suits you, not me.

For today, think of expression as a gift of seeing your own mind. See expression, of any kind, as a way of alerting you to ideas that could be changed. Welcome in opportunities to express with the intent that expression helps you to notice.

And one last bit: if you are someone who thinks they fail at expression, please lose that belief. Try on this new idea: I can express whenever and wherever I want. I am good at knowing what I think. These new ideas will help you reclaim your ability to express, if you are feeling that expression is not your thing.

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