Our quality of life depends on how we feel on the inside. If we feel restless, our quality of life is not very good. If we feel peaceful, our quality of life is good. And how we feel depends on what we think, what we say and what we do. In the physical world, this is easier to understand because we have physical guideposts available to us. If you want to go to City A, go left. If you want to go to City B, go right. Or we could rephrase this as: If you go left, you will reach City A. If you go right, you will reach City B.
Such physical guideposts are missing in our mental life, so we need to create them on our own. You need to make various decisions on a regular basis, and in many instances, these decisions are to be made in very different roles that you might be playing — a professional, a spouse, a parent, a colleague, etc. While the decisions could be of a very different nature in each of these cases, all of these decisions can be made using a single set of personal guidelines. These guidelines apply to each of these decisions because they exist at the root level.
But why do you need personal guidelines? Haven’t you been making these decisions anyway for such a long time? You need your own guidelines because it is quite likely that you have been making many decisions without having thought deeply about how they affect your state of mind in the long run. In some instances, you might say or do something merely because it feels good at the moment, or perhaps because someone else is doing so. But doing many such different things might cause a feeling of hollowness or uncertainty within — something seems to be not right or missing. Personal guidelines help you because they act as guideposts and tell you: if you go left, you will feel more restless; if you want to feel more peaceful, you must go right.
You must have your own, personal guidelines for yourself. That is what makes you truly independent as you can then find the answers to all your questions yourself. Relying on friends or substances or other advisors might perhaps help for a short while, or it might only create an illusion of help. If you want to solve the problem, you need to solve the problem, rather than avoid it or put a temporary lid on it. Solving the problem isn’t as difficult as it looks. You just need to be clear as to what to do. You need to do the following.
You need to create a set of personal guidelines that help you understand what will make you feel more restless and what will make you feel more peaceful. Once you have those guidelines, you need to set aside a few minutes each day for Contemplation.
Contemplation is deep thinking — thinking about a particular matter for a long period of time and going deeper to understand it well. It may seem like a mental activity, but it has a very strong physical element to it. First, you acquire the habit of physically stopping whatever you were doing — speaking to someone, checking your phone or email, watching a video, doing chores, etc. Second, you find yourself a quiet place where you will not be distracted by people or technology — maybe sit on a chair in a room or lie down on the bed or go for a walk alone. Third, you think deeply about your guidelines and analyze what you have been saying or doing or thinking to see if those actions are in line with your guidelines. During such Contemplation sessions, you ask yourself: Have I been doing or saying things that make me more peaceful; am I being negatively influenced by my current personal or professional environment; is spending time in the online environment helping me become a better person or is it wasting my time or perhaps even leaving me disturbed; am I clear about what I want to do and why and if I am, whether it will help me become more or less peaceful?
Contemplation is the mother of clarity. Contemplation on such personal guidelines helps you think clearly. Ifyou can think clearly, you make the right decisions. If you make the right decisions, you feel more peaceful.
Mental fitness — having a clear, undisturbed and focused mind — is similar to physical fitness. Regular Contemplation on the right guidelines is the way to achieve mental fitness. While the external environment might urge you to stay connected constantly, what you really need to do is quite the opposite — you need to disconnect from the external and spend long hours thinking deeply about matters that matter.
Clarity of thought and peace of mind are thankfully only skills, so they can be learnt by anyone. Learn them once and you will not depend on anyone else after that. You may still interact with or take assistance from others in various matters, but you will never have to depend on anyone else to solve your problems.
Think about it.