Every day I try to do some type of relaxation practice, guided or on my own. On the topic of thoughts, I was listening to a mindfulness teacher describe a statistic that “psychologists say” we have 65,000 thoughts each day and that 95% of those thoughts are the same each day.
Anytime someone tells me “scientists say,” I immediately go on a hunt for a source. I couldn’t find one, other than a high-profile spiritual teacher/neuroscientist apparently stated this as fact in 2003. This individual brings up a negative reaction in me (something to do with money), so I don’t want to mention him here. If you care to experience a mind-blowing contemplation, visit this site that calculates statistics of EVERYTHING, including thoughts.
Regardless of statistics, the point that we determine our own worlds internally by the thought stew we carry around about ourselves, largely the same day in and day out is helpful. This means, we have two choices and/or both of those two choices.
- We can leverage the 5% of “new” thoughts to create something.
- We can learn to step back and observe the 95% of thoughts that repeat every story of everything we think we are, many of them not in our conscious awareness, give them a little space to breathe, and create room for something else. That’s where meditation helps, observing thoughts as they arise without judgment.
So here’s my boring story that I carry around.
I’m a single parent so I need to work all the time. There’s no way I can take a vacation with my child. Everything I do must go toward our survival. I’m lucky I can work from home and “be there” for my child. I’m lucky I’ve lived where I do with such a great food bank that helped us for years make it through the month. Nothing wrong with celebrating good fortune and gratitude. BUT.
I am keenly aware I need to make room for a new story. Now that my daughter is a mini-adult or pre-adult or some version thereof, there is nothing I would like more than to create a memory with her that is of us having adventure and/or fun together. I was spoiled during my own childhood in that my parent lived on an academic calendar so summers were for road trips, family outings, lots of memories, even if masterfully designed on a budget for four children. But I have consistently told myself those kinds of experiences are off limits for me as a parent.
Despite telling myself I’m “there” for her, I can count on one hand the times over a decade I have participated in anything my daughter enjoys during summer like going to a lake with her, etc. . . opting out because I’m working. And the only time in 15 years other than her childhood illness that I made time off work to be with her alone was five days on the Oregon Coast. If I was to die tomorrow, this is the thing I would most regret. We definitely were bonded more closely than otherwise through illness, but if anyone wants a reminder to create memories with your child and you have a choice, I recommend taking another route than a two-year tour of cancer all accommodations paid by Medicaid.
To that end, I am putting my radar out for travel treks we can do together before she is legally or otherwise independent of me, and I am finding to my surprise there are several in the affordable range or at least won’t be paying them off until I’m 90. . . that’s what happens when you start to shift focus on anything. Opportunity.