Thursday, April 3, 2014

What If II


“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

Anne Frank

“What day is it?"
It's today," squeaked Piglet.
My favorite day," said Pooh.”

A.A. Milne

“In this hour, I do not believe that any darkness will endure.”

J.R.R. TolkienThe Return of the King

 After writing my last blog, Five Victories, I reflected on the possibilities of a new way of thinking.  What if all, or at least most, of my thoughts were positive?  What if I looked for the positive in the potentially negative?  I’m not talking clichés.  I mean, what if I really trained and disciplined myself to think differently?  What if I looked at the world, and more importantly, myself differently?  I’m also not talking about blind optimism here.  I’m not talking about ignoring tragedies or even small problems.  But what if I really looked for the good in every situation and, again, in myself?  What would that do for me?
Tonight I was stuck with a problem I couldn’t resolve.  I began listing all the positive factors in my life and all the choices I had.  I wrote at least ten different items, including good health, a job and a car.  Soon I felt lighter.  I came upon a solution and I was able to move forward.  This was not the surprising thing.  The surprising thing is that this surprised me.   Then, with some embarrassment, I had to ask myself some questions.
·     How often have I come upon a solution to a problem that vexed me?
·     How often did I fear the worst only to see it not happen?
·     How often did the worst happen and yet I still survived it?
·     How often could I have solved many of my problems simply by exerting more effort?
·     How often were my problems more the result of my thinking than actual events?
·     How often did I see a change in attitude change the actual situation as well as my view of it?
·     How often did I learn from my troubles?
·     How often was I able to use my troubles to teach or encourage others?

The answer to all these questions is, “Often.”  The exception is the third question, to which the answer is “Always, so far.”  I have always survived.  In fact, when I was willing, I was able to use my troubles to teach others and to spare them from the same thing.  I was even able to make light of my troubles through the gift of humor.
Repeatedly, I go into “catastrophe thinking.”  I am sure the next problem will be so overwhelming that I won’t even survive it.   Yet, I have seen people live with paralysis, cancer, AIDS, genocide and concentration camps and make something worthwhile out of these experiences.  My troubles have been nowhere near those. 
In addition, I myself am gifted and blessed not only with possibilities but also with internal resourcefulness, inner strength, humor, intelligence and a teachable spirit.  In addition, I have a God and people who love me.  I’ve had a pretty good life and I’ve done pretty well for myself.  I’ve made money, lost it and then made it again.  I’ve had problems and then resolved them.  So why do I constantly allow negative thinking to pervade my thoughts?  The problem with negative thinking is not only does it leave me discouraged and defeated before I’ve even tried, but it’s rarely, if ever, truthful.  There are many setbacks I’ve experienced, but I’ve faced no disasters from which I’ve never recovered.  None. 

It’s not that I am ignoring pain, problems, difficulties or defeats, but does my life have to be defined by these things?
Perhaps, as I wrote before, maybe God allows battles so that we will experience victories. 
What if life were meant to be series of victories?
What if life were meant to be viewed through the lens of gratitude?
What if I didn’t need to panic every time there was a problem or a perceived problem?
I’m not writing this as someone who always practices this.  But what if I did?  What if I remembered, no matter what the problem, to Get Started and Keep Going, to trust that it will work out somehow?
Indeed, what if?