Lately I’ve been getting asked the question: how can one tell the difference between wisdom and personal thinking?
If everything from our most anxious, depressed experiences to our most helpful natural guidance comes from the power of thought, how does one distinguish them and know which one to trust?
And for a long time I really thought this question could only be answered by looking at the content of what we think.
I thought I needed to compare my current experience to similar experiences in the past and assess from there.
Or even that I needed to compare it to other people, if it was “aligned” with what I noticed from the behaviour of others, I could guage how likely it was that it was wisdom.
Not only is that exhausting, it’s not even effective.
Fortunately, it’s so much more simple than that.
Human beings are beautifully designed and part of the kindness of the design is that we have a perfectly reliable feedback system as to what thinking we should take seriously.
It lets us know what thinking we should be listening to, acting on or following and what thinking we should be ignoring and allowing to change into something new.
The super helpful reliable feedback system is the feeling that accompanies the thinking.
And it’s a hard to describe a feeling because words have so many meanings but I’ll do my best.
When our experience feels expansive, light, free, airy, curious, playful, fun, inspiring, fresh, new, loving, interesting, open, helpful, fascinating or just downright obvious: a good feeling accompanies it.
When our experience feels heavy, tight, constricted, restricted, boring, monotonous, repetitive, habitual, closed, stuck, frustrating, stale or just downright unpleasant: no good feeling accompanies it.
Acting on the thinking that comes with a good feeling is how we know we’re operating in line with this greater intelligence that we’re all connected to: the very energy behind life that’s beating our hearts and breathing our lungs.
It’s how we know we’re coming from the space of our true nature, instead of coming from the space of biased personal thinking.
The feeling is designed to be our guide.
Red means stop. Wait. Take a pause. Breathe. Let something else come. Thought by nature is fluid and transient and it will bring us something new if we allow it to.
Good feelings are green. They tell us to proceed, to go forward with whatever it is, whether it’s creativity, inspiration, a helpful solution, a new perspective, a fresh thought… it’s all safe to trust and act from.
So we needn’t concern ourselves with the content of our thinking. It’s unnecessary and unhelpful to analyze, compare or contrast our thinking with other thinking.
If the thoughts bring a good feeling with them, go. That’s our wisdom shining through. Whether it’s subtle and ordinary or bold and inspiring, it’s simply a higher quality of thought that is wise and responsive to life.
If the thoughts bring a bad feeling with them, stop taking them seriously. Stop listening to them. Stop buying into their reality.
That’s a surefire sign you’re in distorted, subjective and untrue personal thought, and if you continue thinking about that thinking you’re bound to suffer, get in a tangle and innocently feed that experience.
Knowing that feelings are our built-in guide is incredibly helpful. Wisdom comes with a good feeling, personal thinking doesn’t.