A friend, the minister with whom I went to LA, told me about a sermon he heard. The speaker quoted from another who gave a list of the world’s ills. “Children treat their parents and elders poorly, have no concept of responsibility or the use of money, and people generally ignore the commandments and disregard their Creator. Surely the world is coming to an end!” The speaker asked his listeners to reflect on where else they had heard such things, and people nodded as they remembered these sentiments seem to be everywhere. Then the speaker shared that his comments had been taken from a sermon given over four hundred years ago. On a TV program a while ago one of the characters remarked, “Let me tell you a secret. The world is always going to pot – the only thing keeping it from getting there is hope and good families.”
A Muslim friend recently lost his job, and I asked what he was going to do. “I don’t entirely know,” he said. “However, I know that when one door closes to me, Al-Fattah always ensures two others open. I may not know what the future has in store, but I know it will be better than now and that it is meant to be.”
Jack Canfield, author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books, put this concept in a slightly different way. He calls it his “That’s Good” therapy. When something happens, something bad or a “closing” of an opportunity or experience, immediately say “that’s good” and pause for a moment. Think on how there is some element, effect, or consequence of what happened that could be positive, and focus on that. This allows an opening of the heart and an initial avenue for hope to grow. It can be serious or silly, but the important thing is to create a crack in the shadows of loss that will let hope creep in, find root, and grow. Then this hope draws our awareness to the new thing – opportunity, avenue, or blessings – opening for our awareness and experience. The important thing is finding the tiny sliver of hope which will open our hearts to growing into the future.
Of course, it’s difficult to say if reality will alter when we do this exercise to alter our thinking. But on the other hand, maybe it does. What we focus on expands in our awareness of that thing, and our experiences all begin to be transformed through the lens of this focusing filter. When we concentrate on the terrible things, everything which happens seems somehow linked to the awfulness – however, when we train ourselves to focus on positive things, we begin to see the opening of new opportunities and blessings, and then we start developing the habit of seeing good things in the majority of our experience. Perhaps this doesn’t change the world around us, but it most definitely changes us.
In this, I used a construction of the intersection of a cube and an octahedron. The cube represents the static, temporal nature of the physical realm, and the octahedron is the Platonic solid representing Air. The cube is picked out in pale green with designs based on plant forms, and the yellow octahedron is decorated in blue designs which tend to be more abstracted. The element of Air brings into my mind the limitless expansion and beautiful blue of the sky, filling our awareness with a dome of potential which seems to have to beginning point or end, symbolizing to me the potential and richness of the future, where our Creator continually opens paths for us which can lead us to better things.
Hanging inside the structure is a collection of all sorts of keys of many different sizes and shapes, and if you look closely you can see the best part, the antique can-opener. Each of us is created to be something amazing, and keeping our focus on that helps this truth expand in our individual awareness. And if our Creator intends us to be remarkable and we open our heart and turn to Him, he will most certainly open the way for us to arrive.