Thoughts on a Life Well Lived


Thoughts on Thinking

Books and writing are some of the best teachers, especially the written words that persist through generations. The writers that I read (young and old, new and classic) help shape my personal growth. However, I believe that a fulfilling life comes only through self-discovery. Writing is the best tool that I know to both discover and explore my own thoughts.

I have been writing for years about ways to “live well.” A vague and broad genre that essentially describes a means for me to explore and compile my thoughts about how to best live my own life. What you see here is merely the tip of my thinking and writing iceberg. You are reading (although perhaps not with this one) the thoughts that for some reason have struck me as worth sharing. What I share here is my tiny contribution to the world of “words to live by.”

I journal everyday about anything that comes to mind. Most often, I write about my favorite topic: me. Opening my journal and wielding my favorite pen feels, almost literally, like entering a private room. There I find a therapist, with whom I can share whatever brand of thought fills my mind. Perhaps its not a therapist at all; we have no interaction. I find then, a receptacle to unload anything I wish to release. Thoughts positive and negative, happy and sad, productive and detrimental fill this bucket. 

The various forms of meditation share one primary emphasis, the assertion that: we are not our thoughts. Thoughts arrive like weather, dominating our view of the landscape, yet can pass just as quickly (if we learn to allow them to). They originate outside of us and remain only as long as we hold them. 

This depiction of thoughts always felt fitting to me. I try constantly to be only an observer. Nowhere is the process easier or more literal than when dumping thoughts into my journal. I get to see the thoughts in black and white, right in front of me, and outside of my head. They seem so powerless when they appear in my sloppy left-handed scratch. As the ink dries each thought seems to wither into a skeleton. I see then, that most thoughts are artifacts not lifeforms. I see then, that they just pass through me.

Seeing my thoughts, thoughts I once held dear, lying dead on the page exercises both pride and shame. Any pride for my own genius insights or profound revelations evaporates along side any shame I feel for my negativity, pessimism, or judgement.

Without the release of writing ( or meditation or a good friend) we clog the thru-pipe and thoughts can linger long enough that we take ownership of them. Possession, after all, is nine-tenths of the law.

A curious phenomenon occurs in the process of releasing my grasp on my thoughts. Little gems hidden in the soup become clear. As they flow out in writing I have a chance to examine and nurture them. They grow more beautiful than I previously realized. Perhaps they serve no one else but me, but they appear special nonetheless.

If we hold tight to a handful of dirt, we may never find the diamonds hidden within it.

These are what I aim to share here.

I can take no credit for their creation, they arrive with the storm as well. I believe authorship (and journaling and blogging) is actually mining. Sometimes I suspect some value may lie in a certain thought of mine and set out to find it. Other times, and far more often, I just unload and am often rewarded with little gems as I sift through the mess.