How to Have a Better Experience

All beliefs are real to the believer.
~ A Course in Miracles

It can be very hard to accept that everything we experience is the result of our thoughts. Yet no matter what happens around us or to us, we give it the meaning it has for us. We choose how to see it and how to respond to it. And that choice determines how we feel.

I remember how often I would get upset over something – only to eventually realize that I had completely misinterpreted the situation. But in those moments I realized that my emotions weren’t caused by what someone said or did, rather, they were the result of my interpretation of what had happened. It didn’t really matter whether my assessment was right or wrong, what mattered was that I cared.

I was struck by how powerful my thoughts were. My entire sense of wellbeing – or unhappiness – came from my thoughts.

So then, I began to wonder, where do my thoughts come from?

I used to think my thoughts “just happened”. They just popped into my head from essentially nowhere – or, at least, nowhere I could detect. But that didn’t make much sense, particularly since I could easily change my thoughts with focused attention.

And what I eventually learned is that thoughts come from belief. There’s a powerful line in A Course in Miracles that reads, “All beliefs are real to the believer.” (T-3.VII.3) In other words, what we believe is what we make real.

Just like the frightened little child who believes there’s a monster in the closet. The fear isn’t caused by a monster. It’s simply the child’s belief. The monster is made up, but the child’s belief is real – hence the fear is real.

And our belief stems from the mind. In every moment we are choosing either the belief system of the ego mind – which leads to all our experiences of sadness, shame, guilt, fear, anger, and every other negative emotion. Basically the ego is the belief system of lack, deprivation, and separateness. We are here, we can suffer, and we are separate from everyone else.

Or, we can choose the belief system of the mind of reason. And this leads to the awareness of our shared purpose with everyone and everything. There is no separation. There is no lack. We experience peace and calmness and joy as we realize that there is nothing to fear. In that moment we have reconnected with the source of Being-ness.

So the next time we find ourselves in a state of unhappiness, we can remember that our thoughts determine our experience, and our choice in the mind determines our thoughts. So let’s choose wisely.