If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.
Reality is both static and fluid, something which can be “nailed down” to an extent by machine measurement while at the same time remaining unique to each individual. In an earlier post (Sticks and Stones) we looked at how we may affect reality through observation and thought, but I believe our relationship with reality is something both a bit deeper and much more powerful than that. Dr. Frankl had little effect on those who imprisoned him, but made a conscious choice to experience reality in the way he chose – and became a beacon for hope and humanity for future generations.
We are able to record a great deal of observations about our surroundings and we also have a definitely measurable effect on some things we observe (water crystals and electrons, for example – check out the What the Bleep movie on Youtube), however it doesn’t stop there. Our experiences, as Dr. Frankl states, are for a time held in our heads before we decide how to react or remember them, and whatever choice we determine is the very thing to which we respond or think about. We can’t help being thinking creatures, we have no choice. The memories and responses force physical change in our bodies and unavoidable changes in our minds which inform everything in our individual futures. Although those changes are not always monitored, many studies recognize their existence – and their existence is what we can only experience as our reality.
Although Dr. Masaru Emoto documented the physical effect our thoughts may have on water crystals most of the very real reality between our ears has not been fully explored, so perhaps it’s wrong to make my statement unequivocally. However, there are several very simple experiments which can be done to prove this, many of which are described in The Secret and The Moses Code.
One very simple experiment is to change our vantage point for a person or event. The steps are easy:
1. Pick a person or event and recognize/articulate how it makes you feel and how it impacts your decision making (The flagman at a construction site slowing your commute, for example)
2. Imagine being that person or event looking back at you, and imagine the response he/she or the event might have to your behavior (I’m doing my job, why’s he flipping me off?)
3. Imagine if you were the person or event, what could justify the behavior you despise? (I’ve been out in the hot sun helping guide ungrateful, angry motorists to safety through this site, and all I’m getting is nastiness – why can’t someone smile to me?)
4. Extend the benefit of the doubt (Perhaps the flagman has had a real rough day, and all I need to do is smile and wave)
What immediately begins to happen is our mind opens to the possibility that someone else is just like us, and by shifting our perspective we can dramatically shift our reaction. Swearing and getting angry is wearing and bruises the rest of our day, but the realization (in this example) that the flagman is having a horrid day, too, gives us an excuse to wave or smile and makes the day a little brighter – both for the other person and very definitely for ourselves. Try it, you’ll see what I mean.
Wallace D. Wattles wrote a series of books in the early 1900’s exploring a scientific method for applying these (personal) reality-altering concepts, well before the double slit experiment and Dr. Masaru’s work. His books discuss how anyone can achieve success, greatness, and prosperity, with all his arguments strongly rooted in Western scripture (one of them can be accessed here); the majority of the science involves changing a person’s attitude and way of processing perception – and presages some of the spirit of Dr. Frankl’s work. I came across Mr. Wattles as I was researching movies like The Secret and The Moses Code, looking for independent verification and support of the principles addressed. And very similar ideas circulate through every major religion; we have the last say in how we decide to react, and how we decide to feel.
Of course, all the people involved with these things could very well be full of malarkey.
But what if they’re not?
If there’s even a chance changing my thinking will make the world a better place for me, my family, and those around me, I’ll take it.