We then innocently blame our unhappiness on our seemingly insufficient circumstances instead of recognizing that it’s only our thoughts about our circumstances that have created these feelings.
We first need to understand what our identity is. Our identity, or self-image, is our answer to the questions, “Who am I?”, or “How would I describe myself?” Part of our answers to these questions includes the facts of our age, gender, physical measurements, job title, education, living situation, marital status, and so on. However, the facts themselves aren’t what create our identity, emotions, or self-confidence. The basis for our self-image, and our ensuing happiness or unhappiness, is our opinion of ourselves (our thoughts about ourselves). For example, even if two people are the same age and have the same weight, education, and jobs, one person could be proud of himself, while the other person could be ashamed to have these very same characteristics. Basically, our self-image is predominantly made up of our opinions of all the facts, as well as our opinions of completely subjective topics such as our personality and whether we are attractive.
Put simply, our identity is made up of thoughts (opinions).
Psychological thoughts are the ones that decide whether something is “good” or “bad”, and these are the thoughts that create our suffering.
For simplicity, our psychological thoughts are nearly all of our thoughts that have opposites. This is because if a thought has an opposite, then we will almost certainly consider one side to be “good” and its opposite to be “bad”. For example, if we think it is “good” to be rich, funny, skinny, and intelligent, then we would consider it “bad” to be poor, boring, overweight, and unintelligent. Our minds tend to be filled with the same psychological thoughts repeating themselves over and over again.
Functional thoughts are mostly answers to the question “How do I do that?” Functional thoughts determine how to build something, how to get somewhere, or how to solve a particular problem at work. Purely functional thoughts don’t create suffering, only psychological thoughts do. However, most of the time, our functional thoughts are tainted by psychological thoughts.
In any moment when we have no psychological thoughts, or we don’t believe our psychological thoughts, what remains is the experience of the present moment.
When we don’t have or believe the thoughts that create our unwanted emotions, none of these emotions are experienced, and we get to experience the present moment.
The ability to experience the awe of something simple arises in the moments when we have silence or space between our thoughts. It is like seeing something for the first time. This feeling is similar to the sense of wonder and innocent curiosity that young children have.
A Guide to The Present Moment