So during one of my idle moments I started to wonder, wonder a little too much, about the power of the mind. I decided to read "As Man Thinketh" by British philosopher James Allen to give me better insight into what I struggled to articulate to myself.
We have the power to control our thoughts and the direction our lives take. Only we can determine our reaction. No one else can dictate our thoughts. Therefore, the consequences that befall us are due, in part, to our thoughts (mind that I did not say circumstances, although that, too, is mostly true. Remember, there are always exceptions). In a more convoluted manner, Allen states this message as such, "Act is the blossom of thought, and joy and suffering are its fruits; thus does a man garner in the sweet and bitter fruitage of his own husbandry." Thoughts indeed are very much like a garden that we tend to, and it will flourish as we desire it to, or wilt when we neglect it. How many times have you tactlessly made a statement in the fury of anger? That, reader, is an example of neglecting one's garden.
While your environment to great degrees influences your behavior, you are in possession of yourself and have the ability to inspire change. If you so choose to wallow in the abyss of depression or foster the traits of a degenerate, what can anyone do for you? They can advise you and guide you, but the change begins with YOU. No one can force you to be anything different than you aspire. In truth, "Man is made or unmade by himself; in the armoury of thought he forges the weapons by which he destroys himself." I mention this solely because some people are very quick to blame others for who they are, when, in reality, you can at any moment change.
As the master and maker of yourself, as Allen states, it's up to you to utilize these roles of empowerment. That second chance, that glimpse at the transformative power you harness, that forgiving glint reverberating within all of humanity, sits awaiting the moment you decide to use it. Your environment, your destiny, your experience, is connected to you, and it's up to you what you contribute. What you give is what you shall reap.
Indeed, your thoughts help develop your state of being. According to Allen:
Thought and character are one, and as character can only manifest and discover itself through environment and circumstance, the outer conditions of a person's life will always be found to be harmoniously related to his inner state. This does not mean that a man's circumstances at any given time are an indication of his entire character, but that those circumstances are so intimately connected with some vital thought-element within himself that, for the time being, they are indispensable to his development.
What does all this mean? It means that your environment does not control you. There's a great freedom in gaining self-control of your thoughts and emotions. Until one learns that they are in control, and not all the pressures and temptations present on a daily basis, then one discovers true mastery. Circumstance is not to be credited with making the man, but with revealing man to himself. After all, "no such conditions can exist as descending into vice and its attendant sufferings apart from vicious inclinations, or ascending into virtue and its pure happiness without the continued cultivation of virtuous aspirations." In short, who you are, your actions, may be spurred on by external factors, but your inclinations belong to none other but yourself. Once you "cease to whine and revile, and commence to search for the hidden justice which regulates [your] life. And as you] adapt [your] mind to that regulating factor, [you cease] to accuse others as the cause of [your] condition, and [build yourself] up in strong and noble thoughts; [cease] to kick against circumstances, but [begin] to use them as aids to [your] more rapid progress, and as a means of discovering the hidden powers and possibilities within [yourself]." Sadly, with all the distractions blockading progress, it seems many miss the opportunity to cultivate this truth.
In life, you "do not attract that which [you] want, but that which [you] are. [Your] whims, fancies, and ambitions are thwarted at every step, but [your] inmost thoughts and desires are fed with [your] own food, be it foul or clean. The "divinity that shapes [your] ends" is in [yourself]; it is [your] very self." You can choose to imprison yourself or free yourself This is common sense, right? You know you CAN do this. But why don't you?
Much happens in life that leaves us simply flabbergasted. We often wish and pray, but wishing and prayer is only facilitated through some effort on your part, because "UNTIL thought is linked with purpose there is no intelligent accomplishment."In agreement with Allen, "wishes and prayers are only gratified and answered when they harmonize with [your] thoughts and actions." Moreover, nothing will improve for us if we refuse to improve yourself. So while it's okay to have visions of your house with the white picket fence, to become a head chef, a teacher, or president of the United States, those desires will never be realized unless we pursue it with a passionate ambition and relentless determination. Every time we fall and get back up means that we are one step closer to overcoming a weakness. Always, "Cherish your visions; cherish your ideals; cherish the music that stirs in your heart, the beauty that forms in your mind, the loveliness that drapes your purest thoughts, for out of them will grow all delightful conditions, all, heavenly environment; of these, if you but remain true to them, your world will at last be built." That ideal, no matter the sacrifice, will be achieved if your heart is set on it. Nothing is without sacrifice.
In order to achieve great things, a great sacrifice must be made. The sacrifice of time, the sacrifice of a night out on the town, the sacrifice of not buying those really nice pairs of shoes, the sacrifice of not playing your favorite sport for how ever long, the sacrifice of living somewhere intolerable when you'd rather live on a raft in the middle of the ocean surrounded by hungry sharks, haha, at this point you get what I mean. As Allen states, " The man who does not shrink from self-crucifixion can never fail to accomplish the object upon which his heart is set... Even the man whose sole object is to acquire wealth must be prepared to make great personal sacrifices before he can accomplish his object." Sacrifice makes that journey worthwhile. Not everyone may realize all the tribulations you underwent to achieve all you possess. These are your battles. The scars you bear, none will ever fully know the wound before the scar. Indeed, "circumstances, however, are so complicated, thought is so deeply rooted, and the conditions of happiness vary so, vastly with individuals, that a man's entire soul-condition (although it may be known to himself) cannot be judged by another from the external aspect of his life alone." Your experience is yours and none, not even vicariously, can know it well.
What many do not realize is the power of thoughts to manifest itself into habit. Take for instance certain fears. I often catch myself hoping that something doesn't fall, and while worrying so much, it happens, haha. That actually happened to my aunt the other day. She kept worrying that she would stain her shirt to the point that her shirt got stained with her food, haha. Remember, "Thoughts of doubt and fear never accomplished anything, and never can," at least nothing good. Now this won't always be the case, but without your realizing it, your thoughts can lead to both fortunate and unfortunate circumstances. A couple months ago, I was having a conversation with my boyfriend about the connection between your thoughts and your health. It began like this:
Me: baby, when will you rescue me from my tower?
Boyfriend: When pigs fly. I'll jump on a pig and rescue you. That would be sick, huh?
That conversation was a great segue way into how much our emotions impact our health. People commit suicide over a broken heart, experience extremely high stress levels and severe depression that cause their body to emotionally shut down, and, a lot of the times, people get sick. Well, as much as the internal tends to be ignored, it's not out of sight, out of mind. The article below asserts that repressed anger and other negative emotions that remain unexpressed could potentially lead to cancer. Obviously there are exceptions. There always are. Even Allen stated that:
Disease and health, like circumstances, are rooted in thought. Sickly thoughts will express themselves through a sickly body. Thoughts of fear have been known to kill a man as speedily as a bullet, and they are continually killing thousands of people just as surely though less rapidly. The people who live in fear of disease are the people who get it. Anxiety quickly demoralizes the whole body, and lays it open to the entrance of disease; while impure thoughts, even if not physically indulged, will soon shatter the nervous system.Still, it's nevertheless an interesting concept to consider.
Emotions are part of the body. They're not as tangible as a body part, but they're just as important and should not be ignored.
My point is, strive to live a healthier life, try to control your emotions, do the little things that make you happy. Don't let envy, anger, malice and other negative emotions control you and wear you out. If you need an excuse to tell your boyfriend/girlfriend/brother/best friend/other significant person in your life, to stop harassing you, now you can say, "Stop it, you're going to give me cancer...literally." Alright, let's not guilt trip anyone and it's not something to joke about, but I think you get the gist of what I'm saying. Ultimately, one seeks serenity. When "[we become] calm in the measure that [we understand ourselves] as a thought evolved being... such knowledge necessitates the understanding of others as the result of thought, and as [we develop] a right understanding, and [see] more and more clearly the internal relations of things by the action of cause and effect [we cease[ to fuss and fume and worry and grieve, and [remain] poised, steadfast, serene.[We], having learned how to govern himself, [know] how to adapt [ourself] to others... The more tranquil a [we become], the greater is [our] success, [our] influence, [our] power" to achieve all we desire.
Your actions and the actions of others (at least those who matter to you) matter! You may not see it now, it may be a passing cloud, but think about what you say and do. There are repercussions for your actions, severe ones at times. It's important to find a balance and maintain poise of character. I'm all for more love and more compassion.
"Keep your hand firmly upon the helm of thought. In the bark of your soul reclines the commanding Master; He does but sleep: wake Him. Self-control is strength; Right Thought is mastery; Calmness is power. Say unto your heart, "Peace, be still!" -James Allen
Sand-Dollared Cataract by Sofia Mitchell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.