It occurred to me the other day as I was doing the routine monthly cleaning of the air conditioning filter that life is full of filters which need to be cleaned; the dryer filter, oil filter, french press filter and pool filter just to name a few. Cleaning filters is such a simple way to keep things working more efficiently, and also prolongs the life of the object. Sometimes neglect calls for not cleaning the filter but completely replacing it. We all perform this function without really even giving much thought to it; it becomes a habit.
This past week, I decided to begin focusing on one key filter in my own life that needs to be cleaned and better maintained. Strange how my mind works sometimes and how a simple household task can help drive what I hope ends up being a life changing year.
I have always tried to take good care of myself physically, and although like most people in the human race I entertain the thoughts of more desirable proportions in certain areas, I am thankful to be healthy and active. Something that is also important to me is to constantly learn, improve my word power, create and solve and just exercise my mind overall. Yet, even with the effort I put forth to make sure what is going into my mind is productive, I have neglected to diligently clean out the filter of my mind and thoughts.
This truth has popped up at various times in my life, but unfortunately without consistent regularity. Spending this month being introspective in an effort to increase in wisdom has brought this truth to the forefront of my mind. Identifying my very large albatross over the last couple of weeks and choosing to do the hard work necessary to release it has allowed me to see how dirty and corroded the filter of my mind has become over the past few years. It has happened ever so slowly as does the process with most filters, beginning as the result of the busyness of running a family, managing schedules and a household, working and just living life. With so many responsibilities on a daily basis, performing a routine check and cleaning of my thought filter has moved to the bottom of my list of priorities.
Now that I have become aware of the dominant role fear has played in my life for so many years and have made the daily commitment to release it, I have been able to see how my thought patterns have contributed. How easy it is for certain negative singular thoughts to gain space in our mind, soon becoming thought patterns, which play out in negative beliefs, attitudes and eventually actions. Our thoughts are often our own worst enemy, hindering us from accomplishing, experiencing success, realizing long yearned for dreams, letting go of hurts, cause us to make hurtful and sinful choices, make wrong judgements, become cynical and even sabotaging relationships.
I love the quote from Thoreau: As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in our mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives. I have been truly blessed to know people in my own life whose actions have revealed a scrutinized and controlled deep mental path and I have been deeply hurt by those whose actions have revealed a uncultivated and even untamed, negative mental path.
Kierkegaard once said, “Our life always expresses the result of our dominant thoughts. I want to make every effort to make sure that my thoughts line up with my actions. This week I want begin the process of monitoring, identifying and clearing away the negative dominant thoughts which have overgrown and played out in negative actions and behaviors. I think I may be surprised at how dirty my filter is. I also think I might be equally surprised at how much more beautiful life appears, how much more assured my attitude will become, how much easier it will be to forgive and how much more vibrant my physical body will feel.