Our lives are so busy these days that it can be hard to find quiet time to rest, reflect and plan. In fact, being busy is praised rather than considered to be a problem. Many of us suffer from ‘busy mind syndrome’, where we get stressed and caught up in our thinking. As a result, we can’t easily make a decision about the best way forward. All this has a negative effect on our mental health.
Rather than giving you practical tips that are even more things to add to your ‘to do’ list, this article talks about a different way of being. It describes a philosophy of life that involves thinking less, so you can be more.
As you read it, concentrate on feeling how you respond. In a way, it’s about heart, not head. In line with the philosophy itself, you don’t need to think about it for hours and days and weeks and months afterwards. But – if the content soaks in and resonates with you – you might find this approach instantly or eventually reframes how you approach life and work events, and so reduces your stress and increases your mental health.
The Three Principles
The Three Principles were recognised by Sydney Banks – a Scottish welder who was working on Salt Spring island off Canada when he had a revelation about the nature of human experience.
He called them ‘principles’ because they operate on us like the principle of gravity. It doesn’t matter whether you know about them or what they are called, they are working on us all the time anyway.
This understanding has also been known as the innate health movement, the inside-out movement, and by various other names. Bits of it have popped up within many other theories (and religions) through the ages – the principles are the simple building blocks that explain why those other things work (when they do).
The three principles are easy to grasp, but not necessarily simple to implement.
The principle of Thought states that human experience comes from our thoughts, not the external reality – and thoughts are made up. The past has already happened, and our memory of it is just a thought. The future hasn’t happened yet, and what we imagine will happen is just a thought. All we have is now. So all we can do is live in the moment.
In fact, thoughts are like clouds hiding you from the sun. Once you are able to disconnect yourself, as a human being, from your unhelpful thinking, you can realise your true potential.
The principle of Consciousness is what turns our thoughts into feelings. Imagine someone at work says something negative, and you realise you feel angry about it. But the person hasn’t actually made you feel bad; it’s your thoughts about what they said that gave you the feeling. When you become conscious that this is how human life works, you can make better choices about how you want to respond.
For example, you could:
- feel hurt
- lose confidence
- shout back
- ignore it because their behaviour says more about them not you
- feel compassion because they obviously have issues
- accept they are just a fellow human who is doing their best, just as you are
The principle of Mind is the energy behind life. Some people call it ‘source’ or ‘spirit’ or ‘gut feel’ or even ‘God’. It connects us all and has an intelligence of its own. If we quieten our ego and our own individual intellectual mind, universal Mind will guide us – and it always guides us towards the best, most loving thing we could do.
What this means to you
As you start to observe your reactions to things, you might notice the three principles in action.
Just remember that your feelings tell you what you are thinking. If you’re not thinking it, you won’t be feeling it. And if your thoughts aren’t helping you, remember that you made them up. They’re not real.
If you are thinking negatively, it will cause you misery. If you are thinking positively, you’ll get more peace.
Once you take ownership of your thoughts, it neutralises them and allows room for new perspectives to come in.
On one level, disconnecting your self from your thoughts simply makes life less draining. On another level, when you trust that the answer will come, you become more energised and free.
This may feel a bit ‘woo woo’ to you, but when you think less you will free up your mind. So don’t fill your diary. Let yourself be, calm your mind, and you’ll create space for answers, insights and peace.
To illustrate this, here’s a brilliant, funny one-minute video by Gaur Gopal Das which beautifully answers the question: Why worry?
Dealing with negative emotions
Identify your feelings and work out what you are thinking that made you feel that way. Don’t focus on the external event, but on your internal dialogue. By unhooking yourself from unhelpful thoughts, you will get better feelings and more peace of mind.
You can’t stop bad stuff from happening. You can’t stop yourself thinking (we all do it, all the time). And there is no such thing as a ‘bad’ feeling.
If you’re feeling negative emotions, it’s hard to be creative. The more you recognise (and ignore) the thoughts that are not helpful to you, the less often they will occur to you, and the more joy you will experience in life.
Here’s Gaur Gopal Das again, in a seven-minute video to help you stop obsessing about negative things, and to take action and be positive instead: “Don’t be hateful; be grateful.”
Think back over the past few days. What were you doing when you got your best ideas? Usually, it’s when you were relaxed and at peace.
With the three principles in play, there are no tangible steps you need to take. But the more you manage to empty your mind of busy thinking, the more it will become an incubator from which wisdom springs. Don’t over-think, and you’ll get insights that are more creative and spontaneous.
If your busy mind is affecting your life, understanding the Three Principles approach is where you’ll find peace, clarity and wisdom.
Just clear your busy mind and live in the moment, doing your best. That’s all we all have to do in life.
If you enjoyed this, you also like to read my previous articles:
- Mindfulness and what it means for you
- Why and how to use positive psychology
- How to be an agile leader
- How to develop resilience and cope with stress
- Being your authentic self
- Why your brain needs time to rest
- Dealing with fear of rejection
- How your mindset can enable or limit you
- How to develop your confidence
How to support someone who is grieving.