Skip to main content

A Tiny Paddle on the River of Life

| Nirmala | Practical Pointers

A Tiny Paddle on the River of Life

Published on
10 December 2014
Practical Pointers

Q: I would like to know whether thoughts create our reality.  I  think a lot of negative and fearful thoughts, which tend to become reality. So I want to know for sure whether it is true or is it just my assumption.

A: This is a good question. My sense is that thoughts do affect our experience, but much less than we imagine. There are so many influences in every moment that affect what actually happens that while thoughts do have an effect, it is not that much of an effect. The problem is that we tend to really notice the times when something we think about then happens, and we overlook all of the times when we have had a negative or fearful thought and nothing ever came of it.

I would invite you to test this out. For the next five days, take some time each day to write down 20 or so fearful or negative thoughts you have about the next day or so. Include anything that comes to mind. Then on the sixth day, go through the five lists of negative thoughts and check for yourself how many actually came true. And also take note of any thing that happened, positive or negative, that was not on your lists.

Then just to be thorough, for the next five days after that, write down 20 positive and hopeful thoughts about the next 24 hours. On the sixth day, go through the lists and see how many came true. Once again, take note of any thing that happened, positive or negative, that was not on your lists.

This will show you very directly how many of your thoughts come true. It might allow you to stop giving much attention to what you think when you find out how rarely they actually come true. Then you can become simply curious about what does happen whether you thought about it or not. There is a deep and profound wisdom that is unfolding life and that is responsible for most of what happens. It moves through you and through everything in the world to affect what happens. As I said, our thoughts can also affect this a little, but for the most part what is meant to happen will happen whether we think about it or not.

You might also reflect some on how you felt during the five days of writing down negative thoughts compared to the five days of writing down positive thoughts. This may possibly be the main way your thoughts actually affect your experience: by changing how you feel as your life unfolds. Having more positive thoughts will probably not change much about what actually happens, but you may feel differently on those days.

As a final experiment, I would suggest that for five days write down 10 negative things and 10 positive things, and then tear up the piece of paper and forget about all about them, and never check if any of them came true or not. And notice how you feel on the days when you do not give any importance to what you think will or won't happen. Does it feel better to have lots of positive thoughts or does it actually feel better to not really pay attention to your thoughts at all?

A good metaphor is that in life we are in a small boat on a very large river. We are given a tiny little paddle that we can use to move the boat this way and that way, but in the end, we are still going to go where the river is going. Similarly, your thoughts and even your choices are not likely to change the overall direction of your life in any profound way. You can paddle a lot, just paddle a little, or not paddle at all and the river will still take you where it takes you. You may find it makes sense to pay more attention to the river and to the direction that life is already flowing than to your little thoughts that are like a tiny paddle.

Let me know how it goes for you if you try this little experiment.