The common denominator

There’s a vast array of experiences that we can all attest to. We can often run the gamut from joy to sadness, from love to anger, from acceptance to judgment all in a matter of a few moments. Certainly this palette of experiences can be observed over time, whether days, weeks or months.

It appears as though these ups and downs are created by the events in our lives. When we are rushing to an appointment, a traffic jam can often make us feel angry and upset with other drivers. There is an endless list of things that seem to alter our sense of well-being. Burnt toast, a stubbed toe, spilled coffee, misplaced keys are among the more common, minor occurrences that can “set us off”. Sometimes even the weather can be seen to cause a low mood. Equally evident are the things that evoke a feeling of joy and enthusiasm. The smile of a loved one, the sound of a favourite song, the smell of fresh coffee can all bring us a sense of pleasure.

Naturally in the course of our lives we face other more significant events. We all have experienced both ups and downs, losses and gains, as part of our journeys.

For some reason, when we consider our well-being, we tend to focus on our negative experiences or low moods. But what is the common denominator in our extremes of feelings? What is the source of our moment-to-moment view of the world?

There has been much written about various causes and cures for “the blues”. Certainly there is sound scientific research behind a great deal of it. We feel better when we exercise, get enough rest, avoid certain dietary pitfalls. There are proven variations in brain chemistry and hormones that can affect our perceptions. However, at the end of the day, it is thought that paints the final picture.

So what is our role in the creation of our experience? How can we live in a more consistent state of well-being? What is the “common denominator” in both our joy and our sadness, in our highs and in our lows?

We seem to have little to say about what thoughts pop into our minds. Save for the already mentioned self-care, our thinking appears to be beyond our control and in response to the outside world. As we’ve discussed often in this column, we now know that life is an inside out experience and that it’s not the event that creates our “movie” but instead it’s what we make of the event. What we think is what we get—until we recognize our ability to let a thought go. Hand-in-hand with that, however, is realizing the impersonal nature of thought. Thought in and of itself has no spin. We give it meaning by what we make of it. That is the “common denominator”. Whatever the thought, it’s how seriously and personally we take it that creates our experience and our reality.

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