PREFERENCE is the understanding that we have the power to choose. But this is not quite the same as aversion and desire - which as humans tends to be our default.
Of course we naturally want to move towards the things that bring us pleasure and away from the things that bring us discomfort, but moving through life in this way is not always beneficial for our growth.
When we blindly move through life following unconscious patterns based on the default 'seek pleasure, avoid pain' easily we can become robots mechanically repeating with no end. And we might totally miss out on the life we actually want.
Preference is more of a conscious decision to set the direction of our lives, and to go, regardless of any smooth or rocky terrains. This is because we understand that we cannot hope to change our patterns without a bit of discomfort. And discomfort is not necessary something that should be avoided!
Consciously choosing where we direct our energy, and how we use it, is made even more powerful when we build our strength through practice to say “no” to the things that do not align with our goals, and grow our power to say “yes” and pull the things we want in life towards us.
In order to consciously make the direction of our lives, at first we need to become aware of the unconscious choices we are already making that influence the way in which we are already living. So how do we start?
1. Our thoughts make our feelings, and our feelings influence our actions.
At first we practice becoming aware of our thoughts. Not pushing them away, but just watching; what are the thoughts I have the most? How to I feel when I have these thoughts? Thoughts use energy. That's why at times when you have a lot on your mind, you might also feel physically drained. What are you spending your mental energy on?
2. We can control our thoughts, rather than being controlled by them.
Thoughts will come and go like clouds but it is our choice whether or not we choose to follow them. Once we can identify the thoughts that are not useful to our growth and well-being, we can practice separation from those thoughts instead of getting lost in them.
3. Respond rather than react.
When we grow our ability to watch our thoughts, we can more quickly become aware of the habitual ways in which our thoughts affect our actions and our actions affect our lives. If we find our actions are not in line with our greater good then we can choose to respond in a new way and form healthier habits that more closely align with our goals.