The Windscreen of Thought (#822)

Earlier this week I had a great conversation with one of the participants on our upcoming Learning How to Thrive retreat in Switzerland. We were speaking about the nature of thought, and I was searching for an analogy that might highlight the paradoxical role thought plays in our lives.  It determines our every experience, yet the less we focus on it, the better experiences we tend to have..

Here’s what came to mind:

Imagine thought to be like the windscreen of a car. Everything we perceive, we perceive through it, and it acts as both a window and a shield, simultaneously connecting us to and separating us from the outside world.

If we pay too much attention to the windscreen, looking at it instead of through it, we are liable to get distracted and have trouble keeping the car on the road. If we don’t pay any attention to it, we might not notice as it gets covered in bugs and dirt and bird crap and our view of the world outside gets more and more distorted.

This is important, because when your screen is clear, you can trust what you see; when your screen is covered up, dirty, and distorted, you probably need to slow down and maybe even pull over until the windscreen clears, lest you do some damage with and/or to your vehicle.

Best of all, you don’t even need to do anything to clear your windscreen, as most modern vehicles are equipped with obstacle-sensing wipers which automatically switch on whenever they sense your field of vision is becoming limited.

While most people can easily see the analogy to how our thoughts influence our perception of “reality”, it’s sometimes harder to see the inbuilt “windscreen wipers” in the thought/feeling system.

Yet fortunately, we all come “factory equipped” with the capacity to let go of thought and for new thought to come along in its place, clearing the windscreen of our perceptions and opening us up to fresh new ways of seeing whatever it is we’re looking at and driving towards.

If you think about it, you’ll notice that you move from one thought to another throughout the day with complete ease, and without having to give any extra thoughts to the process. In fact, one of the reasons it can sometimes seem difficult to “drop a thought” or to get a new one is because we’re not used to having to think about it – it’s something that the system is doing for us automatically all day long.

For example, Nina and the kids took me go-kart racing for Father’s day. During my first run around the track, I got crashed into by an overeager racer and my kart spun out. I got scared, then angry, then forgot all about it until after the race. The “windscreen wipers” of my mind had cleared the incident away to allow me to concentrate on the task at hand.

Similarly, most people have the experience of waking up from a dream so vivid we are convinced we will remember every detail. Yet within a few minutes of waking up, we can barely remember it as new thinking has come into the system and “wiped” the dream away.

So the next time you find yourself caught up in some miserable thinking and unable to clear your head, don’t. If you simply get on with your day, you’ll find the intelligence behind your thinking will clear it for you, and new possibilities and the deeper, richer feelings that come with them are only ever one new thought away…

With all my love,


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