There is a game that we play in our minds.

There is a game that we play in our minds. This game separates us from our happiness.

Our true state is happiness, which instills peace and joy. It is only when we listen to our thoughts of fear, loss or anxiety and believe them that we hide our peace.

When one decides that he or she doesn't want to play the game anymore, it is time to use the "barometer of peace" to watch the thoughts. When a thought comes up, ask yourself, does this thought take away my peace or cause me pain? If so, you need to take a look at that thought with your higher self, holy spirit or the part of your inner self that knows the truth. Do not try to ignore the thoughts or push them away, but look at them with the truth and they will just dissolve. This is something you practice, practice, practice.

Once you've done this for a while you may ask yourself, why do I keep having these thoughts? You may even blame yourself or feel guilty for having them. Guess what — this is just another version of the same game. This is just how tricky the game is.

The more you value the subject in the thought (for example, a person that you love, something you think you need to survive or even something that cost you a lot of money), the more likely you are to make up stories about the thought, which snowball into even more thoughts that become even harder to turn over and look at with truth.

What is amazing is this is just a game we play in our own minds. This comes from looking outside ourselves for happiness. "I need you to make me happy" or "I'll be happy as soon as I get this" are more thoughts of the game. There is a verse in the Bible that goes something like this: "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." When we turn and look inside, we are looking for the part of us that is eternal, the truth, an unconditional love. This is where our true happiness and peace come from. When we think something outside of ourselves is where our happiness comes from, we are just asking to play the game. So the choice is yours — do you want to play the game of pain and fear or do you want to start practicing the truth of what is inside?

The choice seems simple. The truth of what is inside sounds way better than pain and fear, but wait until you try it — there is something else you will find. There is a resistance to quitting the game. How can this be? Some of the resistance comes from a fear of trusting the truth inside. We trick ourselves. The flip side of looking outside for happiness is if we feel guilty that we might have caused someone else to be unhappy. We are not responsible for anyone's happiness but our own. Only I can change my thoughts about whether I'm happy or not. No one is responsible for my happiness but me. This is because we identify with the thoughts we have. We listen to our thoughts and think that they are us, which is another aspect of the game. The game doesn't want to stop and wants you to believe that if it stops, so do you. That's how strong we identify with our thoughts regardless of how painful they can be. On the other hand, if we diligently practice trying to look at the truth inside we start to see we are that truth and not the thoughts. Shakespeare's "To thine own self be true" reflects this. If we are truthful and love ourselves without that neediness for something or someone outside ourselves then we can be more honest with ourselves and others. This opens the door to the peace and happiness that is truly ours for true love is giving and not needy. Peace be with you always.

Mike Bradshaw lives in the Rogue Valley and walks his dogs daily. Send 600- to 700-word articles on inner peace insights to Sally McKirgan innerpeace@q.com