Do you know people who always see a bright hopeful world? On the other hand, do you know people who consistently see a world of failure and despair?
What’s the difference?
Picture two people standing together looking at and dealing with the same world going on around them. A difficult situation has presented itself to both at the same time.
One has a smile and is thinking of all the good things that are going to happen today; or she is clearly recognizing the issue and considering the ways she can deal with the issue and get beyond it. She sees a solution around every bend in the road.
The other is downcast and completely overcome by the issue as he sees it. There’s no hope. There’s no future. He might as well go back to bed or get a strong drink or something else to mask his painful prospects. He sees failure like a prison wall. There’s no way out of the sadness.
The former has developed the habit of hope. She knows that any problem can be solved. She believes that she already solved this problem and it’s just a matter of uncovering the solution. Her habit lets her approach every issue in life as just a bump in the road; certainly not a barrier..
The latter wallows in the habit of despair. He is convinced that the world is going to dump on him again just like it has so many times before. His habit is dwelling on all the negative things that have happened or that might happen. He may be caught up in reliving anger; or fear, or embarrassment, or guilt and shame; or victimhood.
His negative thinking completely blocks everything from his mind. He couldn’t see hope even if it were standing there right in front of him.
The irony of his pain is that it’s not usually happening right now. He’s ruminating on the pain of something that happened in the past; sometimes many years in the past.
He can’t get beyond the pain because he keeps recreating it by dwelling on it again and again.
It’s entirely possible that what he thinking about actually did happen. But chances are it’s not actually happening again today. But he’s thinking about it and feeling the pain just as if it were happening all over again.
Dr. Ben Carson is a world-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon who grew up in the poverty of Detroit, Michigan. He gives his mother credit for his success. What would have happened if his mother had seen only the despair of the Detroit slums instead of the hope that an education offered her sons. Click here to learn more about Dr. Carson.
Helen Keller, at age seven, was a wild, undisciplined child who lived in a dark, silent world brought on by an illness as an infant. What would have happened if Anne Sullivan had not had the vision of hope that gave her patience to teach Keller how to communicate and to learn? What would the world have lost without Anne Sullivan’s hope? Learn more.
More about Anne Frank
What would have happened to America if the millions and millions of immigrants had given in to the fear of the unknown and just hunkered down where they were, imprisoned by despair? Much of the richness, color, and texture of American society would have never been enjoyed. More on Ellis Island.
Given a few minutes, you could make quite a list of people past and present who have risen above circumstances because they could see hope.
In the same few minutes, you can probably make a list of people who never quite made it because they couldn’t see beyond their failure and faults.
Negative thinking has the capacity to make us blind to hope; to success; to peace;
People of faith often use a technique of counting their blessings to overcome times of difficulty. Counting blessings can become a habit that slams the door on negative thinking.
People of faith can also overcome circumstances by singing or speaking praise to their God. That too becomes a habit leading to peace and purpose.
But what if you’re not a person of faith?
All of us are made with a capacity to choose what we let ourselves think about. If a negative thought of a past hurt or shame pushes into our mind, we can simply and effectively dismiss that thought by saying something like, “I take that thought captive;” or “I will not think about that.” Do that and the thought always goes away.
It will probably come back and you can dismiss it again; and again; and again.
Dismiss it consistently and a part of your mind learns that you don’t want to think that thought and your mind dismisses it automatically.
When your mind is free of the thoughts that blind you, even for a few minutes, you have time to rationally consider your circumstances and make decisions that will lead you to a life of peace and hope.
Someone just thought, “That’s too simple. It won’t work for me.”
I suggest that you should immediately dismiss that thought and enjoy a moment of peace. Dismiss it again and enjoy a minute of peace.
Develop the habit of peace; it’s part of your nature if you let yourself see it.
These thoughts were prompted after reading a piece in The Upper Room by Sue McCoulough of Great Britain. http://devotional.upperroom.org/devotionals/2014-01-02.
Resources you can use.
The author has developed an online course, Finding Personal Peace, that simply and effectively shows you how to develop a habit of peace and then how to apply what you’ve learned to making better life choices and in dealing with pesky life habits.
You can learn more about and enroll in this free course at http://findingpersonalpeace.com.
What do you see? If you see hope and victory, that’s great. If you see despair and failure, that doesn’t have to be your future. Find and enjoy peace starting today.
I hope Finding Personal Peace helps you with your sadness as much as it helped me with my anger.
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P.S. We’ve written several short stories with some good life lessons. You can check them out by searching by category at the right. My son told me that Ben’s Story gave him something think about in his life. Thanks.