There’s a point in each yoga class when I say to my students, “What do you really want? Open your heart to it and imagine that you are receiving it now.”

What do I really want?I have no idea what they want; although because it’s a class called “Yoga For Stress Reduction,” I imagine they all want to feel peaceful and calm. So I offer that as a suggestion – priming the pump a little. But who knows? Maybe what they’re imagining receiving is a new car, or a promotion at work?

It’s a great exercise to imagine what you want. If the thing that pops into your head is a material object, or an experience, or a certain behavior from someone else, then I challenge you to think about that a little more. Is what you want actually that thing/experience/behavior – or is what you really want a feeling?

Another way to think about this is to ask yourself, what feeling will you have when you get that thing/experience/behavior? How will it feel to have that new car, or vacation, or positive review from your boss? It will feel amazing, right? And isn’t that what you really want – to feel that good feeling?

What if you get that new car and it’s a lemon? You don’t want that. That doesn’t feel good. What if the vacation leaves you stranded on a cruise ship with no food or working bathrooms? That would feel terrible. You’d never want that. What if your positive review means you will be promoted into a management position that you don’t want at all? That would be a bummer.

The point is that it’s not so much the car, vacation, or good review that matters; but rather it’s the feeling you feel when you receive it that matters.

This is a huge distinction to pay attention to. We are continually in search of feeling good feelings. We associate our good feelings with the external things in our lives – the stuff, the way others interact with us, the experiences we have.

But is that truly where our good feelings come from?

Here’s an idea. Could it be that our feelings actually come from our thoughts?  Do our thoughts create our feelings?

Consider that it’s the thoughts about owning and driving a new car that create the feelings you have – good or bad. It’s the thoughts about the vacation that create how you feel about it – good or bad. It’s the thought about what a good review means that creates the feelings – good or bad.

When you begin to appreciate that it’s your thoughts that create your feelings, the implications are staggering. It puts you in the driver’s seat. You’re no longer at the whim of the events around you. Your emotions rise and fall with your thoughts.

Are your thoughts really that powerful? If so, it’s pretty important to pay attention to what you’re thinking.

Or another way to work with this is to reverse engineer it. Start with asking yourself “How do I want to feel?” Then ask, “What thoughts do I need to think in order to feel that?”

I know – it’s a lot to think about! But it’s worth the effort. I promise.

~Sue Hardman-Conklin