Thoughts on Thinking

"When somebody persuades me that I am wrong, I change my mind. What do you do?" John Maynard Keynes

"If you're unhappy with your life, change your thinking." Charles Fillmore

"The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it." Eckhart Tolle

"People are not disturbed by things, but by the view they take of them." Epictetus

"The unexamined life is not worth living." Socrates

"Consciousness is a terrible thing to waste." PunditGeorge

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Think Goodness!

The end of the calendar year is an extended time of celebration for most folks. October through January is a time of great Holy Days. In the United States we add a specific non-holy-day just to be thankful. Thanksgiving has always been a favorite for this blogger.

Count your blessings, one by one. So goes the hymn we sang in Unity Church the other day. A hymn to counting blessings? Count blessings? A casual glance at CNN, Fox news or whatever displays a foul and unhappy world. How can anyone be happy or be thankful with all that misery on earth?

That’s precisely the point. It is possible, desirable, and perhaps, intentioned, that one be blessed, happy, delighted, excited, appreciative and so forth each day. If a choice is to be made, consider the options:

Count your miseries, one by one. Or: Count your blessings, one by one.
Which of the two feels better?

It takes more effort to feel bad than it does to feel good. Regrettably, many folks are very practiced at feeling miserable, and thus it is easier than feeling good. This is a variation of the adage, alleged to both Mark Twain and Abraham Lincoln, that “most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” That sounds about right. I suspect, however, that many people mentally toss such a statement into a slush-pile of “gee that sounds nice, too bad it ain’t real.” If such thinking is automatically thrown into a mental garbage pile, then of course it won’t be real – it never had a chance.

Why count blessings? If nothing else, it’s always refreshing to actually inventory the good and wanted aspects of life. How do you feel when you reflect upon a single blessing? Any blessing will do – being alive this moment is a good start. Living in the United States is a good one. Having the presence of mind to be able to make a mental inventory is really good. Having a car is good. Having a marriage is good (if such is important to you) and so on. You’ve probably eaten a good meal or two today – that counts. Heck, even a good cup of coffee or tea can do it for the moment.

The bottom line for blessings is that at any given moment a person can, if they so choose, find something to appreciate (and hence, feel better.) Granted, it may take some fine slicing of blessings to find one, but reflecting on even the slimmest blessing results in a momentary good feeling. How far is the mental leap from that sliver of a blessing to another? Not far. It can be done. Voila, double the good feeling. Hey, if you’re on a roll, step up to another blessings and another good feeling. Set up a cascade of good feelings. You get the idea.

It’s the same process as dwelling on some slight or offense and churning out bad feelings that feed on one another resulting in anger disproportionate to the initial “cause.” So, the question looms – do you want to feel good or feel bad? Lincoln and/or Twain nailed it: You’ll be about as happy as you decide to be.

Will your momentary happiness make other people feel better? That’s up to them. Will your good feelings create joy in dismal places? No. But the same process is available to everyone. Perhaps by choosing to appreciate, to count blessings constantly, and enjoying the resulting good feelings, others might wonder what the hell is wrong with you that you seem so cheerful when, according to them, you ought to be miserable. After a while, they just might try it. The knack is to avoid mortgaging your good feelings on what other people may or may not do.

People do what they are going to do. Period. It’s a big universe – there’s abundant resource for everyone to be what they wish. It’s your choice. Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s are back-to-back reminders that Life is all about the good stuff. Take inventory, enjoy the moment. Then do it again – all year long. Now that’s a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Enjoy, if you choose.

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