By Deepak Chopra, MD and Anoop Kumar, MD
When people seek personal change in their lives, they often don’t get very far. Even in this day when online advice is bewilderingly abundant and self-improvement books are at our fingertips, change eludes us. One way to remedy this is to start from the ground up. Normally, we feel compelled to start where we are right now, and that’s a tremendous problem.
No matter how different people are, each of us woke up this morning to the same situation. We are constantly involved in thinking, feeling, and doing. No one starts this activity afresh. Instead, we are heavily invested in habits, beliefs, opinions, hopes, dreams, and fears collected from the past. So our thinking, feeling, and doing is entangled with the past even when we want something new, better, fresh, and different.
You can’t always use will power or desire to cut the ties that bind you to the past, but you can do something that will lessen the influence of the past: You can start to see yourself clearly. With that one intention, you are starting from the ground up, because seeing yourself clearly happens here and now. You detach yourself from your story, which is the accumulation of your past. You take a fresh look at what is generating all this thinking, feeling, and doing. The process has to have an origin, a source, a wellspring that sets the active mind going every minute of the day.
Normally, if we try to see ourselves clearly, we are actually looking through a lens. We filter and arrange our experiences. Some experiences we reject, ignore, judge against, or censor. Other experiences we encourage, value, appreciate, and allow to enter our minds. The lens you choose is critical, yet people often don’t realize they have a choice. It doesn’t strike them in the first place that they see themselves—and everything around them—through a lens.
The lens you see through can also be called your mindset, worldview, or simply your state of awareness. Your perspective, on life, family, relationships, work stem from it. Things become confusing because we are caught up in the conflicting stories, explanations, and belief systems that everyone gets exposed to. This confusion can be sorted out once you start to see yourself clearly. Cutting through all the clutter, you discover that you actually know what’s going on. Deep inside, you are fully aware already.