Our Guiding Beliefs and Values
Humans have an unparalleled opportunity: our brains are infinitely creative, which is both good news and bad news, depending upon how we use this unique resource. The brain is constructed so that it is constantly making meaning in an attempt to make sense of the world. This is true all the time for all of us, even at this moment. Meaning is not something that inherently exists; it is something that we continuously create, whether we’re conscious of it or not. If it is an unconscious process, we are like slaves to our impulses and to our environment; we are like automatons. If we can stop, take a breath, and become aware of what’s happening from the inside out, we can consciously choose how we respond to inner and outer stimuli. Eventually we might notice that our thoughts are not reality; they are representations of reality, our stories about reality, what we use to create our experience of reality. We can pay attention to our thoughts and consider their merits, then choose a course of action which is consistent with who we believe we are and what our life is about (knowing all along that this is our best interpretation of what we perceive). We come to recognize that we can choose or create our sense of purpose and that this is an on-going, creative process that evolves over our lifespan, through each chapter in our life.
Discontent occurs when our expectations are not met, when we resist what is “true” in this moment, and when we persist in our resistance or in our clinging to expectations. This is not to say that expectations and resistance and clinging are good or bad; it is simply a recognition of what conditions lead to discontent and stress. If we feel strongly enough about the justification for our expectations, we are more willing to live with the resulting stresses from pursuing our expectations. Using awareness and creativity, we can become more skillful in how we engage with reality. Life becomes an experiment where we play simultaneously with fulfilling our purpose and with letting go where we have little or no control. Contentment becomes a choice, a process of continuously re-committing ourselves to the contrasting experiences of real life. It is a dynamic balance of giving oneself and being receptive and open.