Thought vs. thinking

The other day, someone asked me what the difference is between thought and thinking. This was in reference to the comment that we live the feelings of our thoughts, not the feelings of the world. You see, we have been brought up to believe that the outside world is what affects us and our moods. But intuitively, we all know, to some degree, that sometimes it is our thoughts that affect our moods. However, both can’t be true. Either it’s the outside world or it’s our thoughts. The tricky bit is that our thinking creates our feelings/moods and then makes us believe that it is some outside influence that is making us feel the way we feel and when we are caught up in our thinking, the outside influence feels very real.

So, before I go any further, let me try to distinguish between what I generally refer to as thought vs. thinking. Though, I admit I will not always be consistent with it, but I do try to be clear about it when I feel it’s important to do so.

Thought is what comes to us from the inside of us and thinking is what we then do with it when we mull it over in our heads for who knows how long. In the past, I was known to mull things over for days or weeks. Now it’s much easier for me to not give my thoughts much importance and as a result my thinking is a lot quieter. Another way of saying it is that our thought comes to us from our unconscious and our thinking is conscious.

Many people, myself included, have a difficult time separating the difference between thought and thinking. But it doesn’t really matter, to be honest, because the key is that our emotions and our feelings come from our thoughts and as soon as we recognize that, their importance or their power seems to fade.

The reality is that we are only conscious of a tiny fraction of the thoughts that cross our mind during the day. They change so quickly, and come so rapidly that we are not even aware of them most of the time. Which is why often times, it feels like our emotions are are caused by the outside events when in reality it’s our thoughts that make us feel the way we do, not the event itself. The event itself in neutral until we give it importance/meaning as good or bad.

For example, imagine your reaction when you found out that a friend betrayed you or how you would react if a man on a bus steps on your foot and doesn’t apologize. If we look at the same situation with more compassion or with more information (i.e. our friend acted out of insecurity and fear and wasn’t able to come up with a better solution because he was stuck in his/her low mood and the man that stepped on our foot didn’t apologize because he was distracted by the fact that his wife just died), then our emotional reaction to those events would be different. We may still be hurt or insulted by both actions, but I think it’s fair to assume you all recognize that your reaction would not be exactly the same as before.

The fact that our emotional reaction to the same event can change, even if it’s a tiny bit, given a different perspective or with more information, is indicative of the fact that it is our thoughts/thinking that causes our feelings/emotions/reactions and not the event itself.

Thought as the driver of our emotions seems to be critical for many people in their journey to a more peaceful and fulfilling life. So, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or would like to ask me anything else about this. I’m happy to have a one-on-one discussion with you or I can address your question in a future post.

Until the next time, may the four winds continue to help guide your way.

Lots of love,
Daniel