“If you realized how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative thought.”
― Peace Pilgrim
We are all prisoners of our birth, or so many of us believe. We think we are limited, by our world view. Many Hindus follow the fatalistic philosophy of “Karma,” according to which the actions of the past birth determine the events in present birth. “Everything is predetermined,” say the believers, “we cannot change our destiny.” This fatalistic philosophy propagates the status quo. But the pathbreaker changes the world. Born in the same social milieu, some are able to transcend it, because of their will to overcome the circumstances of their birth and pursue the path of success. Others, dwelling in negativity, remain mired in poverty and some are even drawn into the underworld.
The fatalists amongst us forget the power of positive thinking. They forget that it is our thoughts which nurture our beliefs, shape our thinking, determine our philosophy, and create our world. That is why often while one sibling in a poor household rises to becoming a resounding success, other siblings languish in poverty.
It is said that when you think a thought in your mind, you then experience a matching emotion in your body. The negative emotion will attract more negative energy as well as negative people, which will give rise to more negative circumstances. Our negative thoughts create pall of gloom, negative energies pull us down, negative thinking make us buckle under the constraints we face, and we give up, telling ourselves that we knew all along that we were going to fail. That is why the world is divided into the optimists who see the glass as ”half full,” and the pessimists who see it as “half empty.” Negative thoughts are debilitating.
The converse is equally true. Positive thoughts create positive images, attract positive people to us, leading to positive outcomes, which enable us to channelise our energies fruitfully, to set goals and to work hard to achieve them. Everything falls into place when our beliefs synchronise with our efforts. With the positivity thus created, we are able to overcome the pitfalls that come in our way and achieve our hearts desires.
But, of course, thoughts do not occur in a vacuum. They are at times driven by external forces. They may be influenced by the environment we live in, by our mentors, including our parents and teachers, and fuelled by the media or other external forces. But in the end the thoughts are our own, and thought is free. How then does it work in practice? It is said that you visualise the world you aspire for, and draw it up in your mind’s eye. You fill it with details, and then go about achieving it. The thoughts do not turn into reality on their own. It would then make the dictum, ”If wishes were horses, beggars would ride,” come true. But those who believe in their thoughts, can radiate positive energy and really move mountains. Otherwise how is it that JK Rowling transitioned from living on state benefits to being a multi millionaire within a span of five years? It is because she did not give up her dream to be an author and went on to be a best selling writer! It is the power of our thoughts which leads to self belief, the belief that `I can do it.’ This in turn leads to the acquisition of skills to translate them into reality.
It must have been Dhirubhai Ambani’s positive thinking, which made him rise from his humble beginnings and become a business magnate and to bequeath to his sons an empire which makes Mukesh Ambani the richest man in India.
Our thoughts are not static. They change. And in turn they change the reality around us. It is these thoughts which had the power to change Ratnakar the dacoit into Valmiki, the saint who wrote the Ramayana. Doctors have today conceded the victory of mind over body and admitted that it is the mental will which enables people to survive. When the doctors tell patients that they have cancer, for many it sounds their death knell. They think they cannot survive this deadly disease and they simply give up on life. The doctors describe it as the “Nocebo effect,” as opposed to the “Placebo effect.” Other cancer patients on the other hand, say that they will survive and they do. This is of course an oversimplification, certain cancers are aggressive and chances of survival are few. But even so, the quality of their lives and their lifespan improved because of their positive thoughts. People who have a death wish however, commit suicide because of the negativity which surrounds them.
There are those who have overcome the vicissitudes of illness and pain to achieve unimaginable goals. Wilma Globedean Rudolph contracted infantile paralysis at the age of four. Born into a poor family, with a father who was railway porter and mother who was a maid, she went on to win three gold medals in the 1960 Olympics and was called “the fastest woman on earth.” While many, who had braces on their twisted legs, would be grateful to be able to walk normally, Wilma proved that positive thoughts can change one’s world.
Closer home is the example of Deepa Malik, the 2016 Para Olympic silver medallist in shot put, who despite being a paraplegic, has won 54 gold medals at the national level and 13 in the international level in swimming, javelin throw and shot put. Paralysed from her waist downwards, she is still full of positivity. As a wheelchair bound woman, people expected her to give up on life, she has instead brought laurels to the country.
Thoughts are free and unfettered and often fuelled by imagination. That is why poets wrote about man going to the moon long before scientists sent the first man, Neil Armstrong, to the moon. Thoughts and beliefs have not much bearing on academic excellence. People who have been great achievers have not necessarily been exemplary students. Albert Einstein was a school dropout and Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard. Others that belong to this exclusive club were Steve Jobs and Richard Branson. But there is something which tied them together. They were all visionaries and their thoughts gave wings to their dreams.
Thoughts can well be negative. And it is this negativity which fuels hatred, and converts the brainwashed into terrorists. It is this negativity which does not allow men to rise above their environment and causes murder and mayhem, because negative thoughts can warp minds and lead people to the path of destruction and self-destruction. Crimes like rapes, acid attacks, female foeticide and honour killing are the products of negative minds and warped thinking. It is this negativity which destroys lives.
So ultimately we are the makers of our destiny. It is up to us to channelize our mind power positively and conquer the world or to harness it negatively and destroy ourselves.