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Don't Believe Everything You Think

By Dan Chiras 

Tags: loving life, joyful life, trusting others, doubting convictions, better you, mindful living, Dan Chiras,

Dont believe everything you think  

When I look back at my life from age 17 until my thirties and midforties, I am astounded at how far I’ve come.  During much of that time, I was virtually alone, depressed, anxious and distrustful.   

I wrote a poem in my early thirties summed up my feelings that were at the core of my miserableness. No one cares for anyone/Anyone feels the same/Commitment is such a Dubious Deed/It drives us all insane. 

Where did this gloom come from? 

I grew up in an extremely dysfunctional – and unloving -- family.  My dad was stern and disapproving father. He answered any questions I asked with a tone that said “You idiot.”  

My mother was volatile and sharp tongued. She would lash out at me and my brothers with little provocation, spewing hatred. My older brother who bore the brunt of their fury, took his angst out on me, relentlessly tormenting and criticizing me. 

I felt alone without hope. What emerged was a deep distrust of other people. My reasoning was simple, incontrovertible: if my own family didn’t love and care for me, how could anyone else?  What is more, they were the model of others. 

As a young boy, I withdrew from the world. As I grew older, I played it cool, was distant, and disapproving. Love was elusive to me. People easily turned me off. I had no real friends at all. Basically, I thought why bother, people are inherently rotten.  

Over time, and thankfully, my views changed. Loving girlfriends helped nudge me by their example out of my dead-end views. Observation of others also caused me to begin to doubt my views. Acts of kindness by other others chipped away at my rock solid and dismal convictions I held about other people. 

Over the years, I began to realize that people are inherently good – kind and friendly. I could see it. I had been wrong a good part of my life.  

As my outlook changed, I began to change. A new me emerged.   

Today, as a result of this revolution of thought, I find that people from all walks of life treat me well – extremely well. I’ve dropped my guard. I’ve lost my wariness. I am overwhelmed with kindness toward – and love – for others.  

Don’t believe everything you think. Thoughts you hold to be true can be dead wrong – dangerously wrong.  Convictions about people can be so inaccurate that they can seriously misguide you, even derail your life, keeping you from reaching your full potential and living a truly joyful life.  

Contributing editor Dan Chiras is a renewable energy and green homes expert who has spent a lifetime learning life’s lessons, which he shares in his popular blog, Dan Chiras on Loving Life. He’s the founder and director of The Evergreen Institute and president of Sustainable Systems Design. Contact him by visiting his website or finding him on .

lee-ann harder
9/9/2012 1:22:29 PM

How true Dan and thank you for your generous thoughtful words that light the way for many. The disappointments, hopelessness and depression really come from desperate expectations ( hoping people will give us what we didn't get as children - unconditional love ) - Letting go of that expectation is sweet, illuminating, liberating and empowering! What I have learned it that is that we can reclaim lost childhoods but we will always be meeting our monsters from the past in many situations in our life. What is realistic is to know this and continually provide a supportive framework to our lives that ensure those monster meetings are less intrusive, abusive and less often. Choice is not always a instant resolve but it always helps us to grow beyond this. Just knowing we have a choice is something that conditionally loved children ( who are now adults) really struggle with. Grew up inside physical and mental abuse with both parents ( who were idolized by many ). I hear you well and I respect your positive choices

diana cullum-dugan
8/11/2012 7:48:05 PM

Dan, I teach yoga. I've known many people with sadness in their lives who continue today in a state of fullness and content despite tragedy, trauma, and sadness. I had an unemotionally available mom, a step-dad who wanted to be but she wouldn't let him, so can understand how we grow up with this mistrust and the idea we need to do it all on our own. In our lives, we have the gift of choice. Choice to believe or not. Choice to realign with an energy that pulses larger than us, that gives us space to grow and be who we are or not. Sounds like you had some amazing girlfriends and friends who showed you the beauty and goodness that lives within you. Now you see it in them. Congrats. I love the idea of your blog and will check back frequently!

kathy gottberg
8/5/2012 5:00:08 PM

Hi Dan...I just read in my current issue of Mother Earth News about your book and blog. Congratulations! My husband and I actually had a slightly similar experience ourselves....we did a green blog for about three years writing about everything green and sustainable in our local area. At the end of three years--we both had learned an amazing amount about what people could do to green their lives and made dozens of changes to our own lives. But the feeling was that people around us didn't catch the passion the same way we did. We also realized that writing about the latest and greatest "green" invention wasn't going to transform consciousness. So we started a blog ourselves that we call SMART Living SMART stands for sustainable/meaningful/artful/responsible/thankful. I've now been posting now for just over a year and must say that it has been more gratifying to me to approach the subject from a more holistic perspective. Not sure if my impact is any greater--but my soul is happier. If interested, please check it out at I'm glad to see Mother Earth News supporting this approach too and I will look forward to your posts --and check back often. --Kathy

gloria briscese
8/4/2012 1:33:20 AM

So true, and beautifully written, too.

linda stuart
8/3/2012 5:07:12 PM

Very well said - I am moved to tears.