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, September 19, 2023

The Magic Word

 (Reposting one of my favorites!)

I’ve discovered the magic word.  It’s not abracadabra and it’s not a secret.  It’s not a mystery wrapped inside a symbol.  The long sought magic word – the utterance of which brings immediate reward to the speaker – has been found.  By me.

 I’ll tell you exactly how I found it.

As I was driving to work one morning, one of those idiot motorists clustered around me, lane-hopped near my rear bumper.  The idiot then challenged other drivers as he (maybe she, it was dark) then darted back into my lane, inches from my front bumper.  My ego first impulse was to let loose a string of verbal (or at least mental) descriptions of the idiot’s clearly errant consciousness.  But I didn’t.

The driver was an “accident looking for victims.” This was a time when I was practicing “complaint free” principles in my real-time daily living.  I was creating a habit to say and think what I desired in every moment, and not what I disliked or disapproved.  Did I desire for the idiot to cause an accident?  Of course not.  Therefore I thought and spoke to him/her what I genuinely desired - “May you arrive safely at your destination.”

I thought that pretty good, and, sure enough, felt a bit of relief.  A few more consciousness-challenged motorists wandered into my path, and I managed to send each along his way with the affirmation “May you arrive safely at your destination.” 

Yet there needed to be a closing, an “amen” conclusion, to the thought lest I continue my attention on the behavior of the driver I’d rather not encounter.  Hey, I’m a slow learner, but even I understood that attention given = attraction to.

Then flashed into my mind the magic word – the conclusion to that moment which would free my thinking and attention, and make it available for what I desired in my morning drive, rather than attract more idiots in my experience.  I appended the thought:  “May you arrive safely at your destination.  Ashalli.”  That was it.  End of drama.  The lanes cleared and I drove happily on my way.

I repeated the affirmation and magic word every time I drove and encountered idiots.  It was evident, after a couple of days, that there were less idiots on the road.  Ashalli.

The question was, of course, if this magic word produce the same effect off road?  A few days later I picked up a couple of items at the neighborhood grocery store when a patron with a cart full of stuff beat me to the “10 Items or Less” express checkout.

What?  You’ve never had such an experience?  Ego impulse was to scowl at the offending person (I had a flashback to the road idiots).  But, determined to practice complaint free, the thought was offered “may you move quickly with your tasks to your desired end.  Ashalli.”

The remarkably efficient clerk scanned the entire cart in record time – and with a quick payment from the person.  I liked this magic word.  Then the same clerk struggled with the bar code on one of my items.  I sensed the glare from the burly fellow in line behind me.  The laser scanner finally behaved and I was quickly beyond reach of what I imagine were less-than-complaint-free invectives from the fellow.  Well, why not?  I thought for him “may you have a pleasant day.  Ashalli.”  I went on about my business.

I’ve used the magic word frequently and it works.  However, it works only as the conclusion to a thought desiring a positive outcome for the person or situation.  I say that because I desire to give my conscious attention, as best I’m able, to what I would like.  I’ve heard that before – did someone say The Golden Rule?

Do I want others to complain and condemn my erroneous moments?  Or, do I desire that they treat me as I desire to treat them?  That’s Ashalli.

There is a difference between “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” and a variant that goes like “Do unto others as they would have you do unto them.”  These two approaches are 180 degrees apart.

“Do unto others as they would have you do unto them.”  It sounds okay on the surface.  It smacks of consideration and kindness.  Yet it requires that you adjust your behavior and interactions to please what others want from you.  To do unto others as they wish accepts the obligation to act according to their rules, which may or may not coincide with your values and feelings.  In effect, you focus on what others want you to do (or be.)  If they are satisfied, they may respond kindly.  If they are not satisfied, well, they’ll let you know, so you can try harder.

If you’ve ever spent time on that merry-go-round you know that it can’t be done.  You can never achieve joy this way.  But you can attempt to do so and work really hard to please others for five, ten, fifteen, thirty, fifty years or more.  It’ll never happen because you can only treat others as you wish to be treated.  Would your life be more joyful and less entangled if you focused on treating everyone as you wished to be treated?

That approach places creative power in your hands and you’re no longer dependent on the good graces from pleasing others.  It’s nice to be loved and appreciated – but there’s a huge difference between Love and Appreciation and conditional “love” and “appreciation.”

How do you reconcile demands to treat another in a way that makes you feel badly?  The bad feeling is your indication that you’ve got the equation skewed.  The best guide is to always treat others the way you want to be treated and you are more likely to feel good.  It’s not about what other people do or don’t do.  It’s what you truly desire for them – as what you would desire for yourself.

The more I practiced the magic word the more relaxed many daily tasks became.  Then, one morning driving to work, another idiot zipped around.  At once I thought “May you arrive safely at your destination.  As Shall I.”
As Shall I.  It’s not magic.  It’s what you want for yourself.  May you have a wonderful day.  Ashalli.

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