It’s how I feel some mornings when I first leave the sanctity of slumber in favor of the responsibility of wakefulness…. Dread…
Why? I’m alive aren’t I? Had enough to eat yesterday… didn’t I? Still got a roof over my head? Etc…
But there it is…. The ever-present insistence of doubt and fear worming its way into my projecting Mind, trying to undermine my ability to navigate still-another day as a mere human being…
Happened last week, as a matter of fact. Woke up… noticed I was conscious again, and I started to put my “Dread” on like a fog enveloping my mind and heart-space….
- “What’s going to happen today with that one situation?”
- “Why did he have to do that thing yesterday?”
- “What if this or that happens – then I’ll really be in trouble!”
Like a great writer once commented about fog, dread can creep in on little cat’s feet… Can’t it?
But then… an awakening.
Like the subtle beginning of a Mozart clarinet concerto… a single note of insight began it’s high drift into my mind of possibility nudging a different mindset, a different possibility…. Followed by a low and resounding complimentary chord of understanding that brought all the pieces together like a beautiful symphony of understanding…
I decided, even before getting out of bed, that I would try on trust. I would try on possibility. I would try on the courage to have faith in the future, despite my time-tested tendency of doubt and fear. And I could only begin this magical transformation by asking myself a critical question:
“What would “Grateful Optimism” be feeling, thinking and doing today?”
I drove to work, ate my breakfast, and interfaced with clients, colleagues and situations throughout that day with this constant mantra: “What would Grateful Optimism be thinking about this situation, what would Grateful Optimism be doing with this problem?”.
And, my friend, it was almost miraculous how the day, and then the week became one of the most enjoyable, heart-warming, authenticating experiences of the past several years. New clients suddenly began calling, meetings went smoothly and productively, and people I haven’t heard from or thought of in 30 years suddenly called up to reconnect. Life became alive again… instead of just a process of executing solutions to the day-to-day red lights of worry that normally preoccupied me.
Nature abhors a vacuum, and seeks to fill it. By creating a vacuum of possibility through this simple thought change, it seemed quite miraculously like my whole life suddenly turned back into a field of flowers – Sunny days; Postman whistling; bluebirds singing, dogs barking, children smiling…
Why did it change things so dramatically, this simple notion of changing my internal dialogue with myself? I believe it follows a predictable pattern something like this:
- Being Grateful is a remembrance of the larger context of our life that is working fine (I’m breathing, have enough to eat, people who I love and love me, a roof over my head, a good mind and healthy body, etc.). This is 95% of our Reality – things are working perfectly. It is the 5% that doesn’t seem to be working that we work to solve, ruminate on excessively, and ultimately create a false Reality of despondency out of by misplacing our focus. Gratitude invites joy and humility, and that has an impact on the Universe around us. It resonates forth, and creates a response from that Universe that we can’t control, predict or form to our ego-wishes, but blesses us beyond what we would want anyway. Gratitude is an act of courageous faith in the face of adversity, and by being responsible enough to choose to practice it, it is a message that whatever lessons we needed to learn from being ungrateful have been learned. Thus, the fertilizing influence of doubt and negative thinking has performed its purpose – to encourage and require us to grow beyond who we have been;
- Being Optimistic is easy for some people, but not for others. I’m one of those “others”. Dr. Martin Seligman in his wonderful book “Learned Optimism” offers a test for seeing how naturally optimistic you are. I’m a “3” on a scale from 1 to 10, (by scripting or genetics). I’m also fear-based and a worrier by nature. That’s all probably why I created my company that supports people into being the opposite of all of these states, since I’ve spent my life wrestling with them. I have finally realized in my older age that optimism is work worth taking on if it doesn’t come to you naturally, because as the old saying goes: “Whether you think it is possible or you think it is impossible – you are right!”. Optimism is another courageous choice of belief that overrides all the negative scripting we get in life (from the nightly news to our own worst experiences) in favor of trusting the Divine Intelligence behind all this. And… we are a part of that Divine Intelligence, and therefore can access some of its manifesting power if we begin with the core belief that things will turn out for the good, rather than the bad. But that belief is ours to adopt and practice, or not.
- Being Grateful and Optimistic generates considerable energy that resonates in all directions – internally to our physiology to slow us down and create chemicals of joy instead of chemicals of survival and fear; externally in how we interface with people and situations to give greater license to the good rather than the bad in outcomes. That energy is a huge force in the Universe, which, after all, is nothing more than a macro-energy system itself. It resonates a positive impulse outward that, ultimately, circles back to us in the form of opportunity, relationships and events.
My life changed over the last week by choosing “Grateful Optimism” as a daily and moment-to-moment mantra.
“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not,
but rejoices for those which he has.”
– Epictetus –
“In the hour of adversity, be not without hope;
for crystal rain falls from black clouds.”
– Nizami –