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Excerpted from Slowing Down to the Speed of Life by Richard Carlson and Joseph Bailey. Copyright 1998 by Richard Carlson and Joseph Bailey. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.  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.

"Thought is the power that creates human experience -- the ultimate force that creates, shapes, and transforms our lives."

  Richard Carlson, Slowing Down to the Speed of Life, Part 4

Thought is the power that creates human experience--the ultimate force that creates, shapes, and transforms our lives. We create our experience of life through our thinking. We can't have an experience without thought. It's as though thought is the ink in the pen of life, and we are the illustrators. What we think becomes our emotions, perceptions, sensations, decisions, behavior. It also influences the reactions we get from others and our interpretations of those reactions. Without thinking, there would be no experience. The tree may fall in the woods, but someone alive and conscious needs to experience it. We are not saying that our thinking creates the outside world in any absolute sense--the tree still falls even if we don't experience it--but our thinking does create our experience of the event.

It's impossible to experience any negative feeling without first creating a negative corresponding thought. The truth is, our thinking will always create the reality we perceive. For example, when we see life as being full of demands and we feel overwhelmed, our thoughts coincide with this view of life. When we are impatient, we are thinking impatient thoughts: "When is he going to call me back for that order?" When we are stressed, we are thinking stressed thoughts: "I hate my supervisor. He demands a ridiculous amount out of me. Does he think I'm Superwoman?"

These thoughts, and so many others, have the capacity to rob us of our mental health in any given moment. And because we believe that outside circumstances create our feelings, most of us try to restore our mental health from the outside in by altering those circumstances--taking a tranquilizer to relax, throwing a temper tantrum, buying another time-saving device, or quitting our job. If we believe that our feelings are determined by outside forces, it follows that we will seek something equally external in response. As we gain an understanding of our psychological experience, however, we can recognize that the actual source of our experience is always our thinking. Thus we can begin to restore the power in our lives.

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