Tune Out to Tune In
Have you ever been in a parking lot or on the street when a car almost hit you because the driver was too distracted to pay attention? Either they're talking on a cell phone, listening to their music, or talking to someone else. So they don't see you and they don't really hear you when you call out so you won't get hit. But luckily they somehow manage to react fast enough to miss you. I have had this happen several times, some that were not very close and a handful that had me holding my breath.
I thought of a recent incident like this and it brought a thought to mind that I wanted to share. The thought was this; distracted driving is a lot like distracted thinking. How often do you stop and actually pay attention to exactly what it is you are thinking? How often are you just going from one thought to another without questioning where it came from or deciding if it's what you want to be thinking in the first place? Most of the time we don't give our thoughts a second look before we are off and running, letting them carry us into action, or more likely reaction.
What most people don't understand is that our thoughts are the precursor to our actions. If our thoughts are distracted, then our actions will be as well. And in most cases we are simply left reacting to everything because our mind was busy somewhere else in the first place. But fortunately or unfortunately, however you choose to look at it, life is a thinking man's game. Those who invest in the time to think by being present and leading their thoughts will win, over those who choose to be distracted and allow their thoughts to lead them.
Just as the distracted driver, the distracted thinker is behind the wheel of a complex and wonderful machine that provides blessings and can sometimes be dangerous when it is influenced by distraction or impairment. If we were to continue the comparison of our thoughts to that of a distracted driver and its affects, we could find many correlations. For instance, how dangerous is a distracted driver to themselves and those around them? How much more likely will they be involved in something dangerous like an accident? Is it only a matter of time before they hurt someone, even themselves? Isn't a distracted thinker just as dangerous to themselves and those around them? Aren't they more likely to be involved in something dangerous?
There are some commercials to help parents keep their teens from being involved in things such as drinking or drugs. Most of what I have noticed as a common them is talking things over with them and helping them make a decision before the opportunity to do it arises. The idea is that if they wait to think about it and make up their minds until they are asked to do it, they are left reacting in the moment and are more likely to do it than if they made up their minds ahead of time. This is because they would have thought through all of the reasons and information to make an informed decision that they made, that matches the way they want to live their life. When you are reacting you are less likely to have the time to think things over and make the best choice for you because you are not able to clearly understand all that is being presented to you.
Another issue with a distracted driver is not being able to hear or see what is going on around them. When our thoughts are distracted we are less likely to hear the whisperings of God or see the opportunities He is providing us. How many times have you walked past something you were looking for over and over, frustrated because you couldn't find it, and then you're confounded when someone else walks over to where you had just been and says, "Here it is." How many times have you been seeking and praying for God to help you and walk away feeling like no one is listening because you haven't received the help you were looking for. Maybe it's not that He wasn't listening, but rather that your thoughts were somewhere else or distracted that you were unable to see what He was offering you.
It is for this reason that we need to start tuning out the distractions in our lives and start tuning in to what we are thinking so we can be present and see what God is offering us. Often times we have an expectation of what we want and how it has to happen. So when God answers us by giving us something other than what we expect, we tend to toss it aside saying that's not it and get upset because we haven't received what we were looking for. We should have a goal, but having an expectation is usually a precursor to disappointment or frustration. By being aware of our thoughts we bring ourselves into the present and are more able to see the opportunities that God is giving us. In doing this we are able to have a goal and then accept the path that God has made for us to get there.
So, I invite you to tune out the distractions and take a moment to pay attention to exactly what it is you are thinking. It may seem difficult at first to be more aware of your thinking, but it will get easier with time and practice. You may even be surprised to see just what kind of thoughts you were having that you weren't even aware of. I believe that once you do this, you will see more inspiration and opportunities arise to bring you the things and solutions you were looking for.
If you haven't already read it, take the time to read "A New Earth" by Eckhart Tolle. His book discusses the why, how to, and benefits of intentional thinking over distracted thinking. It's one of my favorites and has helped me to be more focused and aware so I can be present and receive all that God is giving me.