The Magic Thought

Some people spend their entire lives chasing one get-rich-quick-scheme after another. They’re always looking for a silver bullet, and they never realize that if they had spent all this time working on one thing, they’d already be eating with a golden spoon. Most of us learn this lesson at some point or other in our lives, if only in a specific area, like relationships, business, or finance — but it applies beyond even those fundamentals.

How often do you go on a thought chase? One idea incessantly trailing the next in your mind, you hunt for that one line, that one insight that’ll resolve everything and give you that “Eureka!” feeling. I do it all the time. Sometimes, I spend my entire 15-minute meditation in a single train of thought, only to realize that I completely missed bringing myself back to the present. If I can return from multiple mental tracks in a single session, that’s already a success. Forget “an empty mind.” That’s the rare exception, and it’s why we meditate in the first place.

The conclusion, of course, is always the same: There is no magic thought. No genius, breakthrough idea, that’ll “solve” your life forever like a puzzle. You can spend 40 years chasing insight after insight in your mind and be nothing but 40 years older by the end of it. Life must be lived. Thinking is helpful — but not the point. Whenever you do it obsessively, hoping for some form of thought-induced relief, you’re trying to catch a ghost. In search of the magic thought that doesn’t exist.

Think when thinking is needed. Do it strategically but never desperately. And when it’s time, get back to living. You may not be a wizard, but you still inhabit a magical place. Make sure you’re there to see it.