Your most valuable possession

What is your most valuable possession? There are a number of different responses possible. Many will identify family and friends, some might describe something of sentimental importance or significant personal worth. I am reminded of the scene from the TV’s ‘Modern Family’, and the comical response from the brilliant character ‘Phil Dunfy’. Here’s the exchange:

Jay: “If I could only save one possession in a fire, probably my first set of golf clubs. My old man gave ’em to me.”

Gloria: “The engagement ring that Jay gave me, that changed my life.”

Mitchell: “Lily’s adoption papers.”

Cam: “I was gonna say adoption papers. So I guess, then, I would say my mom’s recipe book.”

Phil: “All our family photos… Which I keep on my iPad, so my iPad.”

A middle-aged man’s affection for tech aside, when you think about it, ‘your most valuable possession’ is obvious. It is one that perhaps we don’t spend enough time looking after; one that is with you every second of every day; one that controls each moment that you spend on this earth; one that can prove the difference between success and failure, between health and illness, between life and death. Your most valuable possession is your mind.

So, the obvious question is, how do you look after your mind? We cannot keep it under lock and key. We can’t care for it like a precious engagement ring, or valuable adoption papers. How do we keep our most valuable possession safe? In one way, the answer is simple.

You mind’s ability to deal with life and everything it throws at it is extraordinary. From breathing, to complex speech, to understanding relationships, to keeping you healthy, safe, and growing. It is charge of what and who we love, how we love, how we go about our day to day business.

And then of course there is the part of the mind that we train. Not just to carry out our job, and everything included in that process, but even what we do in our spare time; driving, sporting pursuits, music, dance, being a good partner, parent, friend. Your mind has learnt all these things and it allows you to perform them without a great deal of thought. All of that knowledge and understanding is housed in the mind.

If our mind is over-stretched though, then things get more difficult. I talk at length about how things like stress can affect the mind and then subsequently cause a lot of issues for you. Not least with your health. But of course, if our mind is weighed down by too many cumbersome thoughts, too much intense activity, then other things get affected. You aren’t as good an employee, golfer, cook, piano player, spouse, parent, friend if you have a lot on your mind. And we really want to be all of these things because positive affirmation in each one of these roles brings us happiness. And I think we can all agree that whoever we are, at whatever stage we are at in life, we all want to be happy.

In short, we need to get out of our mind’s way. This is a simple sentence to write but not a simple task to carry out. We need to learn how to let our mind do what it needs to do and remove the interference we can be responsible for.

This is probably best explained by describing something you probably do already. Have you ever had something on your mind and ended up going for a walk? Maybe it was a problem in your social life, or a difficulty with work; maybe a complexity which needed solving in some way. Now, more often than not, that walk works. You end the walk in a different state of mind than you started it and very often with a possible solution to the problem. Walks are great for that. And there are particular reasons why it works. Walks are, in a way, an accessible example of how getting out of your mind’s way can allow it to work all on its own.

Your mind is an incredible piece of kit and sometimes, I am afraid to tell you, humans aren’t great at looking after their own minds. We over-think, over-complicate and generally overuse certain parts of our minds to our own detriment. We actually have a part of our mind that gets very confused as to what its there for. It gets involved in things it shouldn’t and makes life much more complicated and difficult for you. Getting this relationship healthy is one of the most important steps you can make.

Looking after your mind isn’t as tricky as it sounds. It takes a little bit of time and focus, the deployment of a few tools and tricks, but it is very possible. I have people who come to me and say that they don’t have a huge amount of time but that is something of an illusion: we all have the time. And indeed, learning how to think about the way you think, isn’t an addition to a workload, rather than a change in the way you work.

The benefits are huge. Through the realisation of what you can do with your mind, your life changes. Your mood changes, your appreciation of everything around you changes, everything gets a little bit better.

Notice I haven’t said easier. I can’t flick a switch and make your life easy. If I could, I would be the most important person on this earth and paid accordingly! But what I can do is get you to think about the way you think and, slowly, day by day, bit by bit, get you to recognise the control that is possible and the way your mindset can end up making a big difference.

And your most valuable possession is worth that. It is very much worth looking after, because ultimately, it is looking after you.

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