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Excerpted from You Can Be Happy No Matter What by Richard Carlson. Copyright 1997 by Richard Carlson. Excerpted by permission of New World Library.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.

"When we realize that thinking is an ability rather than a reality we can dismiss any negative thoughts that pass through."

Richard Carlson, 
You Can Be Happy No Matter What
, Part 3

We Are the Thinkers of Our Own Thoughts

Unlike other functions or abilities that we have as human beings, it's hard to remember that we are the thinkers of our own thoughts. It's easy to remember that our voices are the product of our ability to speak. It would be virtually impossible to startle ourselves with our own function of speech because we are so aware that we are the ones creating the noise. We could scream and yell and rant and rage, but we still wouldn't be frightened by the sound of our own voice.

The same could he said about our ability to ingest and digest food. You wouldn't eat something and then wonder why you had a certain taste in your mouth you are always aware that you are the one who put the food in your mouth.

But thinking is different. William James, the father of' American psychology, once said, "Thinking is the grand originator of our experience." Every experience and perception in life is based on thought. Because thinking precedes everything and goes on so automatically, it's more basic and "closer to home" than any other function we have. We have innocently learned to interpret our thoughts as if they were "reality," but thought is merely an ability that we have we are the ones who produce those thoughts. 

It's easy to believe that because we think something, the object of our thinking (the content) represents reality. When we realize that thinking is an ability rather than a reality we can dismiss any negative thoughts that pass through. As we do so, a positive feeling of happiness begins to emerge. If we harbor negative thoughts (pay too much attention to or dwell on them) we will lose the positive feeling and feel the effects of the negativity.

Here is a typical example of how thought can be misunderstood and how this lack of understanding affects us the "thinker." Let us pretend that you accidentally spill a glass of water on the floor of a restaurant and look up to see that a man, two tables over, has flashed what you believe to be a disapproving look. You respond with anger. "What's the matter with that guy," you think. "Hasn't he ever dropped anything? What a jerk!" 

Your thoughts about the circumstance make you frustrated, and end up ruining your afternoon. Every few minutes you remember the incident, and as you think about it, you become angry. But the truth of the matter is, that person didn't even see you drop the water. He was in his own world, reacting to his own thoughts about an error he had made at work earlier that day. He couldn't have cared less about you. In fact, he didn't even know that you existed.

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