Skip this column if all your stars are aligned and you are in perfect harmony with yourself and the world. All others may read on.
Somewhere along in 2012, I started to feel overwhelmed with the sheer amount of information raining down on me, the fast pace of change, the vastly different interpretations on how it affects mankind, and my own efforts to keep up with it all. If you have ever experienced the feeling of being exhausted and confused because your mind is racing at 150 miles an hour, processing loads of information and asking yourself dozens of questions, you know what I’m talking about.
So, I decided that there has to be a better way, and thus reminded myself that the word intelligence comes from the Latin word “intelligere” which means to see through things. We all know the Johnny Nash hit song “I can see clearly now,” and that is the feeling we would like to enjoy more often in our lives. So how do we get there?
What worked for me is to construct what I like to describe as a filter; a mental shield that lets the important information come through and keeps all of the unnecessary stuff out. Think about raindrops bouncing off a tin roof. You know from the sound that it is raining, but since you are staying dry it does not nearly affect you
So how do we construct such a filter? There is no scientifically right way to go about this, and just like every family has their own secret family recipe, all I can do is to suggest what ingredients you should consider. Afterward, it is up to you to figure out what works best for you.
I personally like to start with “Guiding Principles,” followed by “Goals,” and then add some “Lessons From The Past.”
Guiding Principles are the things you believe in — your moral compass of sorts. It can be documented by using simple words or few sentences. Goals should preferably look more than a few months ahead, and may include lifelong goals. Finally, lessons from the past refer to the things you learned and will attempt to apply going forward.
You can summarize these three elements as your “value system.” Once you have defined your own value system it will act as a natural filter and everything the world is throwing at you will be put into perspective; and just as in the song you will feel that the rain is gone, you can see all obstacles in your way and it will be a bright and sunshiny day.
It is important that you commit your value system to writing. Writing it down will force you to really think about it; there is a certain amount of precision in thinking that occurs once you have to commit a thought or feeling to words. If at first you don’t succeed, it might be because you have not quieted your mind enough. Try to stop listening to all of the noise around you, disconnect yourself for a moment from reality and start listening to your inner voice. For some, this might happen over a period of hours. For others, it might take days or weeks. Just start somewhere and come back to it until you have something that feels good to you. You will be glad you did and will have laid a foundation for a more meaningful life by following what is truly important to you.
N.B. “I can see clearly now” was a number 1 chart song in 1972, composed and recorded by Johnny Nash (not to be confused with Johnny Cash), that has subsequently also been popularized by many other artists including Jimmy Cliff. Go to YouTube if you want to instantly improve your mood.