Take a cup of rotten milk and add a cup of fresh milk to it.
Well, you waste a cup of fresh milk without making the rotten milk any useful.
This situation is similar to what happens when people try to imbibe positivity in the form of videos, books, and other stuff outside.
And without actually cleaning their soul and stopping the creation of negative thoughts inside.
No, these aren’t originally my thoughts. I heard BK Shivani, a teacher at the Brahma Kumaris Spiritual Movement say this and it got stuck in my head since.
But how can we control the creation of negative thoughts?
Maybe practices like meditation and working out might help. I haven’t tried them enough to say if they work in this regard for me or not.
But I did come across two stories, that helped me out.
The Two Stories Which Remind Me to Focus on the Good
The doctor who conquered depression.
He got over his depression by himself in a matter of 3 years.
And later became the founder of a Philosophical School of Pragmatism and also a leading psychologist in America.
I am talking about William James.
He graduated as a doctor in medicine in 1869 from Harvard.
However, he didn’t have a really good time there, owing to illnesses and depression.
Panic attacks and hallucinations were troubling him a lot.
His father had faced a similar situation many years back, so James thought it was biological and he can do nothing about it.
But what led to the change then?
It was the definition of ‘Free Will’ in an essay by a French philosopher.
He defined it as ‘the sustaining of a thought because I choose to when I might have other thoughts.’
The realization was that we can choose one thought over the other.
We can control what we think.
He didn’t say we can control our consciousness.
Because that depends on various things like what our minds consume – intentionally and unintentionally.
So, yeah, we can’t control the birth of our thoughts.
But we can decide which thought to focus on.
Because we have Free Will.
This realization is the difference between
“I can’t help but feel this way” & “I feel this way because I ‘decided to’ feel this way”.
I found this story in the book Think Straight by Darius Foroux. And am thankful to him ever since.
The farmer who said ‘Maybe’.
There is a possibility you might have heard of this story already.
It’s quite a famous Zen story.
I heard it first from Youtuber Prince Ea in one of his beautifully presented videos.
Here’s how the story goes.
It’s about an old farmer.
Once his highly useful horse ran away.
The neighbors came to know about this and offered their sympathy.
“Oh, Such bad luck!” they said.
The farmer then replied, “Maybe”.
The following morning the horse came back. But with it came a few more wild horses.
“Wow, how lucky.” the neighbors said.
“Maybe.” replied the old farmer.
The next day, the farmer’s son decided to ride one of the wild horses. Since they were untamed, unsurprisingly he was thrown on the ground while he was trying to ride.
Falling on the ground caused to break his leg.
The neighbors saw this and said, “Oh, how unfortunate”.
The farmer again replied the same, “Maybe”.
The next day some military officials visited the village so as to add some young men to the army. They wanted to take the farmer’s son as well, but since his leg was broken, he was not deemed fit for the army.
Seeing this the neighbors felt happy for the farmer. His son wasn’t being taken away.
They exclaimed how great news this was. But again the farmer said, “Maybe”.
The first story about William James helps me remember that I always have Free Will. Yes, some things can go wrong in life. (The year 2020: ~smiles~)
But we always have the power to focus our attention on the right, the positive and the happy thoughts.
The second story teaches me two important philosophies of life.
- Never judge any situation as you can’t imagine how good or bad it can turn out.
- Things always end up on a happy note, no matter how bad they may seem at this moment.
One day during the lockdown and with all kinds of negativity around (you know very well how 2020 went by), I was thinking of these two stories and went onto focusing on all the good in my life.
Yes, the world outside wasn’t happy. But I can always be if I have a sense of gratitude.
So, with happy vibes, I started writing a poem. Wrote the first two lines, then more popped up in my head, and I continued, to end up with what you are going to read next.
Don’t judge me; I am quite an amateur at poetry.
We get to shine another day.
I can breathe today.
I can love today.
My mom and dad are beside.
The sun’s outside.
I can write today.
I can read today.
I can spread some good vibes.
I can make potato fries.
I can smile too.
And there’s so much I can do.
Life has gifted me happiness today.
I am not gonna frown,
to shove its effort down.
I’m a special being
who gets to shine another day.
Remember what Albus Dumbledore once said? ‘Happiness can be found in the darkest of times if only one remembers to turn on the light.’
To me these stories, and now this poem helps turn on that light.
What do you think of these stories? Let me know if they brighten your life in any way.
Also, if you know of any such inspiring stories that could help us all keep our minds happy and healthy, please share it with us in the comments below.