To think bad thoughts is really the easiest thing in the world. If you leave your mind to itself it will spiral down into ever increasing unhappiness.
To think good thoughts, however, requires effort.
This is one of the things that discipline – training – is about.
James Clavell, in his novel “Shogun”
I read this book as a young man and have to say it is still one of my favorite novels. At the time I was training very hard in Karate and this novel steeped me even further in the history and culture of old Japan, brutal, savage yet elegant. Today I teach students in the art of Karate and hopefully Life. I am an avid observer of the world and I see increasing negativity in general. One of the aspects of how I train my students is control of themselves and their minds. The above quote goes to the root of my teachings (though I never connected the two) in that we control nothing in the world without first controlling ourselves. Negative thoughts are destructive to yourself, your world and those around you, it is like a disease. Our thoughts are ours to do with as we please. Yes our thoughts can be influenced by the things around us. That is why it is a bad idea for an Alcoholic to hangout in a bar with his/her friends. Ultimately though we have ourselves to deal with, the environment or situation we are in are only as influential as we let them be. This all sounds so easy but it is a lifetime of work and practice and failure to become proficient at. The world is dynamic but our inner world’s are infinitely more dynamic, to infinity and beyond! But like any lesson it starts small, baby steps, with awareness. We cannot change or control anything we are unaware of, become and observer of the world. First we need to see the small things most people never see. We can find perfection in the small things, the cut of sunlight through a cloud or the beat of a butterfly resting on a flower, or even the silence of being totally alone in a room. Some of the things you will notice may make you uncomfortable in a strange way, that is your body fighting awareness the way you fight waking in the morning (if you are like me!). What does this have to do with not being negative? Everything. You could start by focusing on not thinking negative thoughts, however your success would be short lived. You have to have something to fill the void left by the negative thoughts you eventually will banish. Why? Because your brain never stops, it is always churning away, in the computer world we call that paging. Paging is moving information into and out of usable memory, if you page to much you can’t do any useful computations or make any useful observations. Observing the little things in the world require you to stop thinking so much, to quiet your mind or in computer terms to limit or stop paging so we can take in new information. As you do this you are increasing your positive memories and thoughts and reducing your negative thoughts without trying to force it. You will eventually get to a point where you will be able to control what your brain is processing positive or negative and more importantly know when you are paging negativity because you are more aware. Awareness is one of the keys to good thoughts with its byproduct, happiness. As an observer you often find yourself in a calm state of acceptance like someone watching a play…but that is a topic for another discussion.
‘Stop and smell the roses’ are words of supreme wisdom which few of us ever understand until it is to late. Stay positive, train hard, train often.