It seems so obvious, if you think bad thoughts then bad things happen. Stressful thoughts damaged my health as a young man. My grasping need to be successful, recognised and wealthy way beyond my ability resulted in an ulcer. Inability to accept myself for who I was made me sick. I did not acknowledge it then, but my mind took control of my body. Unfair tragedies, failure and bereavement wrapped around me as a wet blanket and the coldness of sadness seeped in. Untethered my mind plunged into depression. As I thought, so was my life.
It was recently, when I did enough reading on thought development, the fog seemed to clear and what was there all the time eventually showed itself. My mind is the orchestra and I am the conductor of my own symphony. The music is mine to make. If then, my thoughts have such powerful impact on destiny, I knew needed to become skilful in how to go about thinking. But where to start?
If I can only learn optimism, surely much of my misfortune will be confronted. Rather than run away, I could hopefully walk forward towards my struggle and pain. And so it was that Martin Seligman and his book on Learned Optimism came into my hand. For in truth, the cultivation of an optimistic mind-set significantly increases my chances of health, wealth and inner happiness.
“Go deeper” my restless mind was beginning to awaken and wanted more. It was now the turn of James Allen – As a Man Thinketh. An old book, to be sure – but no less relevant to my life today. From him I learned that I don’t attract what I want, but what I am. It is only by changing my thoughts that I can change my life. “There is more,” my mind pushed on.
Florence Shinn was the next great adviser – The Game of Life and How to Play it. This woman sounded more like a Baptist aunt, but her voice and her message is clear and unwavering. If I can only think of life as a game then I must be so motivated so as to apply the rules for my own success. “Very good” my mind clapped its hands in what seemed as joy. Inwardly I began to grow.
“Deeper still” insisted a quiet inner voice. The Power of Your Subconscious Mind is a book written by Joseph Murphy. For a while, then, I delved into the mysterious subterranean world that lay below the superficiality of consciousness. It is here, in the darkroom of hidden desire that dreams are developed and become a crisp picture. Be careful what you wish for, reads the sign hanging on the wall. Silently I nod at the admonishment and move onto the next book.
I recognise that my well-worn mental habits have dulled the experience of life. I resolved therefore to regain control of my thinking, and experience life anew. It was Ellen J. Langer’s book on Mindfulness that helped me here. Stop, pay attention – be here now.
Finally, I have come to realise that unless I can gain control of my rampant emotions any mental development is futile. A mind in the grip of anger’s turmoil, fearful and resentful cannot be tamed. An untamed mind cannot be trained. Where does one go to find such emotional intelligence? It was Daniel Goleman’s seminal work that gave me a glimpse of how to attain such self-mastery.
I look across the room and SevenStones, sitting in the shadows, stares back. “You have come a long way” he says and vanishes into the evening.