I have been working with insight principles for many years and the single biggest difference is that I enjoy a much more creative life.
Before learning about insight, I spent much of my time either worried, or deep in analytical thought, but I was unaware that this was going on. At the time I was a journalist and being interested in creative thinking, I would study writings on creativity and interview writers and creative people to learn more about what I considered the ‘mystical’ creative process. I thought that to write, you had to be at your desk at a certain time and do a lot of specific things. What I didn’t realize is that I was blocking my creativity by the way I was thinking. I now live in a much more creative state of mind, a state of mind that affects everything I do. I have better relationships, I resolve conflicts more easily, and my work is more multifaceted than it was before.
After leaving journalism, I began working as a therapist and like others, was able to help people clear up many of the issues they were dealing with in their ‘outer life,’ primarily by helping them learn how to create functional systems to replace dysfunctional systems. This being the case, my clients still were left relatively unhappy because even though their outer life was more functional, their inner life was not. Even when their lives improved substantially, they still ended up carrying around mental habits of stress and angst. As I came to understand and apply the principles governing insight, everything changed. I stopped looking to help clients heal the past, but instead turned to finding insights into the nature of thought and its role in creating our experiences. The more that people wake up to their capacity to create, the less they create experiences that they don’t want. As soon as you recognize that you are having an unwanted experience and are having stress of any sort, this is a signal that your train of thought is unproductive. Once you realize this, the mind clears, thinking settles down, and the door opens for a free flow of thoughts that may or may not lead to an insight, but will undoubtedly lead to a better experience of life.
As you realize how thoughts function and that poor use of thought yields less than optimal experiences, you also learn that it is common to abuse the use of logic and analysis. We all have a mechanism that tells us when there is need for analysis and when we use it properly, we don’t experience discomfort, stress or a sense of struggle. The over-use of logic and analysis triggers an inborn warning system that manifests as stress, discomfort, tension or anxiety. As they catch on to the signals, it’s natural for people to use their thinking more productively, because why waste your time with thinking that is not productive? This realization frees up a tremendous amount of time for people, because many people spend a great more time in unproductive thought than they realize. People simply don’t know better, but when they stop thinking in ways that don’t do them any good, they find both psychological and physiological pleasure and they free up a great deal of time.
In addition to saving time, people get to experience more joy in life, because it’s natural for people to be buoyant, humorous and playful when their mind is free. One of the remarkable benefits is that even the buttoned down, high pressured, Type A business person tends to have more fun. In some cases the change can quite dramatic.
Finally there is a ‘contagion factor’. When people are happier, other people who are around them tend to get happier, as well. This is every bit as true in teams in a business environment as it is in family life. We all know that when someone in a bad mood says something nasty, the mood of those around takes a tumble, and if you don’t know any better, you might think you are in a bad mood because of what that person said. High spirits are every bit as contagious. If you come into a meeting with a clear mind and a buoyant mood, you will elevate the spirits of everyone around you. Every individual has the power to positively impact those around them simply through their state of mind.
Annika Hurwitt Schahn, PhD (Center for Optimal Living www.optimaliving.net) is a psychologist who has been actively using insight with her individual therapy and executive coaching clients.