We Have the Power to Determine Our Life’s Direction
Starting today, I am reading the classic self help book, ‘As a Man Thinketh. by James Allen. Allen’s book is considered a classic in the self-help genre.
“As a Man Thinketh” is available online at gutenberg.org under the Harvard Classics.
Allen begins his book, “As a Man Thinketh, ““THE aphorism, “As a man thinketh in his heart so is he,” not only embraces the whole of a man’s being, but is so comprehensive as to reach out to every condition and circumstance of his life. A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts.” Pg. 10
Walking is available online and gutenberg.org under the Harvard Classics.
NOTE: Our thoughts have great power over us if we are sleepwalking through life. We may accept someone else’s thought as truth without questioning it. We may act on our first thought as if it is the only thought we have without realizing the possibility of an infinite number of thoughts. If we are awake, we have the power to discard a thought that brings us and other a negative benefit. And, we have the power to choose a thought that serves to bring benefit to us and others. Our thoughts lead us to action and our actions determine our life’s pathway.
Joseph Campbell says in Reflections on the Art of Living, “I know when my life is not in the center. I get desirously involved with my relation to some achievement or system that is tangential to the real centering of my life. And I know when I am on track that is, when everything is in harmonious relationship to what I regard as the best I’ve got, and me. P. 72
Note: We know when our lives are spinning out of control. We’re stressed. We snap at folks we love. We’re not taking care of our physical and spiritual side. That’s why it’s important to set aside quiet time. A time to lower the body and mind’s speed limit. Once we bring our emotional speed limit down, we can center ourselves and regain a sense of peace.
Victor Frankl in Man’s Search for Meaning speaks of a man losing all hope, and when he had lost all hope, he died. Frankl says, “Those who know how close the connection is between the state of mind of a man, his courage, and hope, or lack of them, and the state of immunity in his body will understand that a sudden loss of hope and courage can have a deadly effect. . . . When speaking of his friend who died, Frankl said, “His faith in the future, and his will to live, had become paralyzed, and his body fell victim to illness. Woe to him who saw no more sense in his life, no aim, no purpose, and therefore no point in carrying on, he was so lost.” Pps 84-85
NOTE: One of the greatest gifts we can give each other is the gift of hope. Hope is the anchor to tomorrow. Hope gives us something to look forward to. It gives us something to wait with expectation of receiving. Hope is a gift of life. It is an emotional transfusion that reignites the life spark in a human being.
Victor Frankl in Man’s Search for Meaning speaks of prisoners who gave up all hope, “A man who let himself decline because he could not see any future goal found himself occupied with retrospective thoughts. . . . They preferred to close their eyes, and to live in the past. Life for such people became meaningless. Yet, in reality, there was an opportunity and a challenge. One could make a victory of these experiences, turning life into an inner triumph, or one could ignore the challenge, and simply vegetate, as did a majority of the prisoners.” Pps. 82-83
Note: Frankl’s description of the prisoners is applicable to us. We need to find meaning in our lives, in our everyday actions. When we don’t have meaning in our lives we, like the prisoners Frankl describes, live in the past when we replay grievances and fail to forgive. When we let go of those things that continue to drag us into the past it is easier to get engaged in something meaningful (there are an infinite number of possibilities) keeping an eye on tomorrow. Keep looking ahead, never backward.
Viktor Frankl, in Man’s Search for Meaning, described the things that helped the prisoners cope with their horrendous conditions, “To discover that there was any symptoms of art in a concentration camp must be surprise enough for an outsider. But he may be even more astonished to hear that one could find a sense of humor there as well; of course, only the faint traces of one, and then only for a few seconds or minutes. Humor was another of the soul’s weapons in the fight for self-preservation. It is well known that humor more than anything else in the human makeup can afford, and aloofness and inability to rise above any situation, even if only for a few seconds p. 54.”
NOTE: The use of humor can take a tough situation and reduce the tension associated with it, if only for a moment. We frequently create our own humor by adding an exaggeration to a situation. For example, an insensitive boss tosses a stack of papers on a worker’s desk and demands, “I want this report in an hour.” The worker in the break room relays the incident to his colleagues and adds, “We he gets home I wonder if he tells his pregnant wife, “I want the baby born now while I have a minute.” They all laugh and agree that is probably what happens.
Viktor Frankl words from Man’s Search for Meaning: “I did not know whether my wife was alive, and I had no means of finding out (during all my prison life there was no outgoing or incoming mail): but at that moment it ceased to matter. There was no need for me to know; nothing could touch the strength of my love, my thoughts, and the imagine of my wife (pp. 50).“
Note: No matter our situation, no matter where we find ourselves, no one can take away the memories we choose to cherish. No one can take away the moments we felt loved. No one can take away those moments when we were surrounded in a bubble of happiness. We can recall those moments anytime we choose. Try it. Recall a time when you felt happy, truly happy. Who was there? What was the occasion? Now that you’ve recalled it, how do you feel?
Small acts of kindness make a difference. Kindness is priceless. It is a no strings attached act of love toward another.
The ocean tides rise and fall. Our lives, like the ocean tides, are subject to change. We can’t stop the changes. When we learn to adjust and adapt to the changes in our lives, things go better. Fighting inevitable changes is akin to trying to stop the tide from rising or falling. Make the changes in your life work for you. Discover the opportunities hidden in them.
Each day is filled to overflowing with promise.
It lets us know we have another chance.
It cautions us to leave yesterday behind.
Grab hold of this wonderful gift that comes with each sunrise.
Grateful for the promise it offers.
Balance is important in life. We can’t ride a bicycle without it. When we’re in balance our emotions compensate for each other. We more easily find that space where we feel peaceful. Are you out of balance? Is one area of your life overwhelming all the other areas? It may be time to bring things back into balance.