This simple wisdom inspires a quantum leap toward creating a newer way of thinking. It is one of the most powerful wisdoms. I acquired it from an individual who overcame the most devastating of life’s circumstances.
John is a paraplegic. His broken neck changed his life when he was a teen. It was a game of football turned tragedy. From that day, he no longer had control of his legs or arms. Physically he knew he would be dependent on others for whatever time he would live. Yet, when I met John, he was applying for a job as a senior therapist. A helper took him to classes and literally turned the pages. He earned his doctorate in psychology. He met a woman with shared interests and they married. He and his wife were raising their adopted daughter. He was not simply alive; he was living and loving his life.
How had he turned himself around? What made the difference? I had to ask and I’m so glad I did, for I received the gift of this stren, which I can now pass on to you. Here is his response, as close as I can remember:
“For several years I was miserable. My thoughts were constant that I didn’t want to live. And then one day I had the thought that changed my life:
"As long as I thought about what I’d lost, what I didn’t have, or might not attain, I realized I would continue to feel miserable. I began to focus my attention on what I had attained, what I had available to me right now, and what I might yet attain. This simple idea changed everything."
Two recent bestselling books, Tuesdays with Morrie and The Last Lecture, provide inspirational examples of individuals who made their life experience meaningful in spite of the terrible hardships fate provided: ALS (Lou Gehrig’s muscle wasting disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) and cancer of the pancreas. Surely, these individuals managed through their way of thinking. What can you learn from such examples? How would you compare your life situation? And how do you deal with it?
Too often, too many people dwell on what they have lost, what they don’t have now, and/or what they may never obtain. This is the sure formula to create misery. I have sent this stren to friends at holiday time and received many grateful comments to verify its effectiveness. My most recent letter was from a young woman whose father died recently; she turned her thoughts and feelings around when she began to focus on her happy experiences with her dad and all she had received.
“There were two prisoners looking through the bars;
the one saw mud, the other saw stars.” Anon.
When we experience any loss, one of life’s many unfairness or setbacks, it is normal to hurt. Why unnecessarily add to the necessary hurt by dwelling on the loss, guilt, or the missing part of our life? Who would go to the supermarket, pay for their food, and then get back in line to pay for the food again? It’s hard enough to have to deal with the loss; why compound it? Though it may take time and will not be easy, we do have the resources to get over the blows fate deals us. Keep this in mind and stop the nonproductive negative mental dwelling!