The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Have a Delicious Day!

As I’ve said many times, I consider “The Secret” to be an unfortunate kind of magic thinking.  But oddly, it was extracted, or largely based upon another work, “The Science of Getting Rich” by Wallace D. Wattles, which is actually worthy of respect.  The difference?  “The Secret” suggests that if you visualize and think about and want something badly enough, it will come to you.

Well, that is true if you add one caveat:  “You will be able to tell that you have produced a sufficient amount of `want’ for your desired goal when you start leaping out of bed in the morning to work your butt off to get it, all day long, with monomaniacal fervor.”

Get that?  If you haven’t produced enough desire to movitate YOURSELF to act, what in the world makes you think the external universe is gonna respond?   Please.
But, curiously enough that’s not what I wanted to talk about today.  Today is Thanksgiving.  While some holidays are pure fun, I think that most serve a social function—shared purpose, rest, acknowledgement of sacrifice and honor, and so forth.  Thanksgiving happens to be one of those times when we stop and remember our gratitude for what we have, something not only important psychologically, but practically.

Back to the “Secret.”  What I extracted from Wattles’ work I call the “Secret Formula” for the sake of association and comparison.  It is comprised of four specific pieces: Goals, Faith, Action, and Gratitude.  Without any one of them, your chances of achieving positive results are minimal.
Goals because you need to know what you want and why you want it and what it will take to achieve it.  If you don’t know where land is, you’ll just swim in a circle, or dog-paddle, until you drown.
Faith because if you don’t believe you can and should do it, why bother?  Plenty of people “know what they should do” but don’t do it.  They don’t believe their efforts will ultimately bring them more pleasure than pain, and this process—avoiding pain and gaining pleasure—is at the core of all animal behavior.  People don’t do what is in their best interest.  They do what they BELIEVE is in their best interest.   And when they see no way to create pleasure or grow, they will simply squat in paralysis, or numb themselves with food, sex, drugs, or…television.  Horrors.
Action.   That’s where we started, right?  You have to take massive action toward your goals, whatever they are.    And to take note of the results you are getting, and maintain the behavioral flexibility to change behaviors again and again and again until you get the results you want.  Those behaviors should be designed to produce results WITHOUT luck of any kind.   A “patience my ass, I’m going to kill something” attitude works like gangbusters.
GRATITUDE.  And here we are at Thanksgiving.  People often struggle with discipline, deny themselves pleasure, and think that pure focus through the pain will get them where they want to go.  Well…yes, but unless you are very careful, the first time you are under stress, the old behaviors will pop right back up.  Also…tomorrow is promised to no one.  Why suffer for something you may not realize for years, when you might not live to get it?  Also…the allies you need to attract to move to another level of life are not attracted by unpleasant, negative attitudes.   But if every day, and I mean EVERY day you find something positive to concentrate upon, and give thanks for it, you not only change your attitude, but you increase your belief that there will be future things to give thanks for as well.

I’ve dealt with clients who could literally not remember a single positive thing in their entire lives.  No love, no faith, no affection, no victories.    Now, this is b.s.—EVERYONE has moments of positivity in their past, or they wouldn’t have survived.  But they interpret their past so negatively, tell themselves such a story of suffering and betrayal and abuse that they have no access to their creativity, intelligence, and courage.

But in the darkest sky, a single star can show the way.    There is a parable of a zen monk who is walking through the forest.  Suddenly, a tiger appears and began to chase him.  Fleeing, he reached a cliff and climbed down.  He stopped, because immediately below him was a cobra, ready to strike.  He started to climb back up, and the tiger swatted at him.  The vine he was holding onto started to fray.  Below the cobra was a thousand feet of rocks.   The monk looked to his right, and there was a strawberry plant, growing out of the side of the cliff.  He plucked a strawberry, ate it and said:  “delicious.”

You cannot defeat a man like this.  He can die, as we all do, but he will die happy.    But if there is a fraction of possibility, any way at all to win, it is someone like this who will find it: someone who has a goal, believes it is possible to succeed, takes every possible action…and has gratitude for this delicious moment of life.

I wish you and your family a delicious day.  One so joyous that you can remember it for the rest of the year, no matter what strife you might face.

A single day…a single star…can light the way.



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