It takes all sorts make the world. There are those walking quite calmly in the sunlight, who appear to be at home in the environment, and there are those pacing quite angrily under a cloud, who appear to loathe everything about the environment; their deepest disdain, rather poetically, often being reserved for themselves. If we want to know from whence such differences spring, as far as anybody can know it, we must begin at the sources of the river, and not merely dilly-dally in the swamps where it straggles away into a final confusing, labyrinthine delta. We should observe simple origins, not complex conclusions; thoughts, not things. For readily understood but quickly forgotten, it’s our thoughts that shape the world, not the world that shapes our thoughts.
We are the master storytellers. So, we should take great care over the stories we tell. Events take on added significance when they converge with the narrative within. It’s from this convergence where we take the materials to build our reality. Palatial retreats or squalid slums – where we reside in our heads is entirely up to us. The world will ultimately be in alignment with it, as the planets are in alignment with the sun.
We therefore should regularly reflect on what ideas are in our heads at present, and in what way they are likely to mould the future.
“For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind”– Hosea 8:7
Commonly, we dwell on the unpleasant, the irritating, the ugly; on the unfair and the unfortunate; on what we’ve lost, on what we can never have. We can spend inordinate time complaining, moaning, whining; often, we’ll only begin to appreciate something by bemoaning its loss. But we should remember that every mind is like a God. We create our reality by bringing it into existence. Only playing the bad hands would not make for an effective poker strategy. The same is true of life. A lifetime of tolerating or resisting that which we perceive to be doing us wrong, while ignoring that which is doing us good, is sure to lead to ruin.
Instead of a persistent, nagging recognition of all that blights us, we should be grateful for the blessings within our reach, and not take them for granted. When we do so, we’re at ease with the world, not at odds with it. Gratitude is the gift of levity, without which we can be weighed down, carrying our sullen impressions about like a lumbering stone statue.
By being grateful we are arming ourselves with a cheerfulness, a lightness of touch, an exuberance, which will allow us to hurdle obstacles as if our feet were kissing the ground. Successful people, who seem to enjoy the fruits of happiness and good fortune, have not faced an absence of problems, they’ve merely acquired the ability to deal with them. Optimism – a child of gratitude – is common to all. And frankly, if we’re not practising gratitude, there’s nothing much to be optimistic about.
Hardship is universal, but there’s no doubt some of us have been fated to endure more than others. Still, I’ve never met anybody who hasn’t got things to be grateful for. And what could be better, artistically speaking, than an optimism breaking through anguish like a fiery gold encircling the edges of a black cloud. To be grateful in a world constantly trying to bring you down, is truly one the greatest accomplishments, and always rewarded. Because it is through an honest, sincere appreciation of the blessings in life where we start to calibrate ourselves to a more favourable future. Indeed, if our lives are beset by difficulty, even more reason that we adjust the settings on our metal detector, for the thing we find will invariably be of a kind with the things we sought.
We are governed by what we choose to think about. If we commit ourselves to every doctrine of insanity and despair, we give Torment the keys to our life, and make it sovereign. But we have the power to take the reins, at any moment, by independent action from within, and not mere reaction to without. To act positively and to desist from reacting negatively is the difference between being the architects of our daily experience, and not merely being the instruments of the things that happen to us.
But the ungrateful appear to imagine that affliction was a yoke mysteriously imposed on us by life, instead of being, as it is, a yoke consistently imposed by all of us on ourselves.
To take the proverbial phrase, is the glass half empty or half full? If it is half empty your thirst will never be quenched; but if it’s half full, truly, you’ll never want for a drink. Thus, when we are being grateful, we always have enough; when we’re being covetous, we never have what we need. And so, a grateful person can be the richest person in the world with very little, but no amount of wealth and riches will make the ungrateful anything other than wretchedly poor.
To sit in the driver’s seat, and to tip the scales in favour of abundance, simply, we must be more grateful than ungrateful. We must focus more on the positive than the negative. If a loved one, for instance, is suspicious of a kind gesture or of being the subject of our sincere appreciation, it’s probably a good sign that we should make more of a habit of practicing gratitude. It will change our life.