Change your thoughts and you change your life - we’ve heard this lesson in multiple forms from many teachers. May Kay Ash told us that "If your mind can conceive it, and if you can believe it, you can achieve it." Dr. Norman Vincent Peale told us about the power of positive thinking. The Christian Bible tells us that "whatever a man sows, so shall he reap." We know from personal experience that if we wake up in a bad mood and do nothing to change our negative attitude, the rest of the day will be full of disappointments and snafus. There is something about our inner thoughts, attitudes and beliefs that have an annoyingly reliable tendency to be reflected in what happens to us.
This week I was struck by the power of this lesson in my own life. We have a teenager in the family who is only weeks away from going away to college, and his behavior and attitude toward his parents is edgy, to say the least. We figured it was completely normal, and perhaps even God’s way of making us look forward to him leaving the nest. My husband and I have been complaining to each other about him - until I happened to be speaking to an adult friend of my son’s who said, "Your son told me he is really going to miss you when he goes to college, and wants to spend some time with you this summer." I was shocked that my son would think that, much less say that to a trusted friend. Ever since then, I’ve looked at my son with different eyes. He looks so handsome, so kind, so smart now! I give him a kiss more often, tell him I love him and will miss him - heck, I even gave him a back massage this week! The miracle is that my son has been sweet to me ever since I changed my attitude toward him.
What a whack on the side of the head! Duh! Of course, he could pick up on my energy, attitude and impatience with him, and he was acting accordingly. There was also a lot of normal teenaged hormones and the process of individuation going on at the same time, but as my husband always says, "Who’s the adult in this situation? It’s you, honey, not the kids." I needed to change my inner thoughts to change the outer life of our family.
Is there someone in your life who is irritating you? Perhaps it’s a son or daughter, or a co-worker, a customer or a friend. Could you change your attitude, your inner thoughts about this person? Could you start to think they are handsome, kind or smart, like I did with my son? Could you see that person with the eyes of God, as a blessed child of the universe? I bet if you can change your inner thoughts, the other person will start behaving differently also.