Treating your mind as you would a private garden

Treating your mind as you would a private garden

Your life is the sum total of what you think about.

This pithy quote appears in Winifred Gallagher’s excellent book Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life.

Gallagher asserts that the focused life is “about treating your mind as you would a private garden and being as careful as possible about what you introduce and allow to grow there.”

The ability to choose what we will or will not allow our minds to dwell upon is a powerful human freedom.  And thoughts are powerful things indeed.  Our very selves are shaped by what we allow our minds to focus on.  Our feelings are largely determined by what we choose to think. We must change our thoughts if we are to grow and develop as women.

(Because if a woman is to be truly beautiful, she must be so in her inner life.)

What we repeatedly see and hear affects what we feel and do, affects the kind of person we are and the choices we make.  Companies pay millions of dollars for television spots that last less than a minute.  They surely understand the value of focus.

To be used for good, our focus must be on the right things.  We can focus on our fears, our worries.  We can focus on having our own way, or on being right.  We can focus on how others have wronged us.  But that focus will ruin us.  Wrong or mis-focused thinking is detrimental to our selves and our souls, and can wreak havoc in our relationships.  What we focus on must be worthy of attention.

Thoughts are sneaky.  I have been battling a Lady Gaga song out of my head all week, because I don’t want those lyrics lingering in my thought life.

If we are going to change our thought lives, the first step is to decide to do it.

The next step is to practice.  A lot. We cannot perfectly control what our minds dwell upon, but we do have some control, and that control grows stronger with practice.  Training our mind is crucial to eliminate draining, distracting thoughts and replace them with ones that enrich our lives.  This is not easy, but it is well worth doing.

Think about it. What thoughts have been filling your head this week?  Are they beneficial?  If not, what will you focus on instead?

I’ll leave you with this video from Sister Hazel: “If you want to be somebody else, change your mind.”

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  1. Lisa says:

    Just found your blog, and what a welcome treat it is! The “thought garden” analogy is refreshing, in that it is not starting from a “self help” makeover place, but uses the idea of careful cultivation of thoughts.

    I really look forward to reading more!

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