I had a nice insight last night. I was driving to the supermarket and observing my state of mind, and I realized that my mood and feelings are almost entirely bound up with me doing quality things that result in favorable conditions specific to me.
In other words, there are two components. One is my actions, which can be responsible or irresponsible, kind or unkind. They can accomplish things or waste time. They can create things (in the usual sense of the word) or produce nothing. They can be effective or aimless. In short, they can be high-quality or not. And which they are affects my mood and feelings to a huge extent.
The other is the conditions specific to me, the circumstances of my life. Those circumstances can treat me well, can shine on me, elevate me, nourish me, or they can do the opposite. It goes without saying that all that hugely affects my mood and feelings.
So the goal, the big goal in every moment, is to perform actions that result in favorable conditions for me. That’s not everything I’m thinking about, of course. I’m thinking about others and about spiritual truth, and my feelings have a lot to do with those things. But the majority of mood has to do with my assessment of the quality of my actions and the favorability of my circumstances.
When I realized this, my first reaction (after “of course”) was “ick.” It struck me as such a small and petty basis for my emotional state. The real basis, of course, should be the exact opposite:
It should be about the given, about what God has established as eternally real, not about my tiny and fleeting actions. It should be about what God has done, not what I’ve done.
It should be about what is true for everyone, without exception, not what is true in my little life.
And it should be about what is true always, permanently, not the circumstances that happen to surround me right this moment.
My mood and feelings, then, should be about the given that is always true for everyone. Not about my actions producing favorable conditions in my life at this moment.
As I was dwelling on that, I thought, “So it’s not about me.” My particular characteristics—the quality of my personality—don’t ultimately matter. The quality of my actions today (a huge preoccupation of mine) is of course important in terms of my journey, but is irrelevant in terms of my mood. The favorability of my current circumstances is also irrelevant. None of that affects the universally true and permanently given.
This felt very liberating. I’m sick of it being about me. (Well, I’m probably not all that sick of it, to be fair. But I’m at least partly sick of it, which is a good thing.) So today I’m practicing a line I adapted from the Course: “His Love is forever real and always true.” When I say it, I try to add on something like “And that’s all that matters in terms of my mood.” Or, “And that’s the only basis for how I feel.”