The Role of Thought

Laura Basha

Photo By: Jeremy Bishop

Commitment to the empowerment of people can directly express in a myriad of ways through various leadership roles. These roles are to be found in the home, in the community, in the business or corporate setting, and frankly in any environment in which one is called upon to make decisions and interact with others. Understanding the role thought plays in creating our experience of life is critical in laying the foundation for healthy leadership.


Since it is our thinking which determines how we view a situation, come to an evaluation, handle ourselves, respond to others, or make a decision, clarity about the source of these choices brings with it a respectful and open certainty. This quality subsequently inspires trust in others and lends credibility to the leader.

As human beings, basically, we think all the time. We have within us a storehouse of memory, an intellect which is in one form or another educated and experienced and has expertise. We also have Wisdom and common sense and intuition. We access all of this as and through thought.

We have thoughts about our thoughts. We have thoughts about other people’s thoughts. One of the keys to actualizing leadership and self-empowerment is to understand the role which thought plays, and how it literally creates our – and other’s – experience of reality. For purposes of clarification, thought has been delineated into two “modes,” and so a brief discussion of these modes is included here in this article.

There are two modes of thought common to every human being. One we can refer to as personal thought, or memory, and the other is a mode of thinking available to us from being present in the moment, or simply stated: Being. The distinction between the two modes of thought can be seen through defining them and understanding the particular attributes of each.


Understanding the role of thought enables people to better sustain hopefulness and a sense of humor in the face of personal and organizational pressures and changes. To cultivate a deeper understanding of the power of thought allows for ongoing expansion of creative thinking in problem solving, improving productivity, and inspiring intrinsic motivation. This capacity to sustain hopefulness is achieved through the maintenance of a lighthearted attitude in spite of circumstances.

Personal thought or memory describes a mode or way of thinking that is limited, as it is based in the past. Personal thought is entirely made up of memory. The use of memory is appropriate when accessed through being, or being present in the moment. Without memory most of our day-to-day tasks would have to be relearned each time there was a need for them. Imagine having to relearn how to use the radio every morning or relearn how to operate the car or balance the checkbook. Clearly, personal thought is a very useful and necessary tool, and memory is what allows us to navigate much of the logistical necessities of everyday living.

However, the intellect can become problematic when used solely as the way of thinking, as it is entirely process-oriented. This mode of thinking can allow for continuous repetition or re-organization of previously held ideas. It can also be limiting when an individual’s thinking is relegated to memory only, as there can be a lack of freshness and insight. Exhaustion and depletion can result due to the arduous nature of having to remember and retrieve the past for any purpose. There can be a sense of boredom because when thinking from memory alone, one is not in the present moment, but rather distracted with thinking based in the past. Your intellect is then racing faster than your life, resulting in the experience of boredom, so there is no experience of insight or creativity.


A heaviness, or lack of joy or presence, can occur when a person focuses from the intellect alone. As one reviews the past over and over, there is a tendency to worry. The thought of needing to make things happen can create a feeling of hopelessness and burden.

Memory can be judgmental, since it compares and contrasts one recollection to another; it can feel weighted with responsibility and importance, as it has no recognition of itself as thought. Therefore everything can appear to have evaluative meaning and can be personalized. Reaction and doing something can make sense to the personal thought mode.

The mode of Being describes a free-flowing mode of thought, a natural state of consciousness inherent within each individual that arises when one is present. It is the vantage point from which we have access to ever-present Quiet Mind, Wisdom, Creativity and Insight. This free-flowing mode of thinking allows for more and more insight into the nature of the role of thought, ever deepening one’s level of understanding thought. It is natural, effortless, and exceedingly practical, as it also delivers common sense input particular to any given situation at hand.

The free-flow thinking inherent in Being gives us the best possible thinking we have access to at any given time. Herein lies the source of lightheartedness and a sense of humor because, due to the inherent Wisdom and creativity of the thought mode of being present, one is able to trust one’s own ability to navigate any circumstance regardless of familiarity with the conditions. Since the attributes of common sense, insight, and well being infuse thinking while beinging present, one simply allows the appropriate thought and/or solution to occur. When not wrestling or arguing with one’s own reasoning processes, but allowing thought to occur as insight, the best way to advance is unrestricted – and is often coupled with the feeling of delight or lightheartedness experienced as gratitude.


Thus, the free flow thinking in being present is the most efficient thought mode to utilize, as it takes the least emotional toll due to its stress-free nature. It is nonjudgmental and impersonal in that it assigns no motive, but recognizes anything unlike itself as thought relegated to memory.

As stated above, thinking from being present allows for the use of memory in an appropriate way, because it allows us to make use of the things learned in the past from a mode of ease and effortlessness. Memory is necessary; without it we would have to relearn very common, everyday tasks. However, use of memory – or known data alone – keeps us boxed in; the best we can do is travel in circles with the illusion of change because, essentially, our experience of life can become a continual review of the past.


This easy and diffuse way of thinking, i.e., Being, is like a river that is always moving, always bringing fresh and refreshing ways in which to interact with our life experience. Because it does not judge, it does not personalize experience, which allows for compassion and understanding, even for those people and circumstances which appear harsh and demanding.

The psychological stance of being present in the moment, knows that anything other than health and well-being is born of personal thought and is therefore illusory. Personal thought is born of the past, and the past does not exist in the now.

Living from this effortless moment-to-moment way of perceiving allows for helpful and stress-free use of memory, resilience, and good humor. What arises is a tenderness towards oneself and one’s fellows that doubles as a buffer towards difficulties and misunderstandings.


One maintains one’s equilibrium and makes choices that are best for all concerned, staying open to an ever-continuing influx of fresh insights and feelings of ease. It becomes clear – obvious – that the direction of health is toward the Quiet Stillness of Wisdom, which meets every need orderly, harmoniously, and effortlessly.


Within this Quiet Stillness, this Silence, all adjustments take place. Being is directly connected to the Formless, the reverberation of Truth before personal thought. It is in the Silence, the nonverbal Knowing, where personal thought is transmuted into Wisdom, Health, and Joy.

As leaders, parents, teachers, managers, citizens, it behooves us to learn how to recognize the characteristics of our own memory, our stories about life experience, stories about ourselves, stories about others. As soon as we recognize we are operating from personal thought or memory, we are in free-flow thinking, and present, and pointed in the direction of health. This is due to the fact that it is the impersonal thinking of being present which recognizes personal thinking from the past. Personal thinking or memory cannot recognize itself. It has no outside vantage point from which to view itself.

How many people do we come in contact with throughout our experience? How many people are influenced by the inspired commitment to empowerment and health exemplified by one person’s leadership? There is an old saying, “Anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but who can count the apples in a seed?” Can we count the lives influenced from the one we inspired? First knowing that there are two modes of thought, then recognizing the difference, is all that is required to return to the natural and effortless state of Being, and one’s own inner buoyancy, health, and innate leadership characteristics.


Leadership born of understanding the role of thought taps into a foundation of inherent stability. As you choose to embrace your own leadership and align with these innate leadership characteristics, you will impact adults, children, organizations and communities with previously unrecognized hopefulness and possibility. Such recognition catalyzes the expression of one’s own inherent authenticity, aspiration and contribution, for the benefit of all concerned.

* Based on the Dissertation: Implications of the Health Realization Model Experienced as Transformational Humor for Individuals and Organizations Dissertation Manuscript by Laura Basha, Ph.D.

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