WHY is right thought so important? It is important because it influences our actions. It is important because it builds up character and a steadfast mind. It is important because upon it our well-being and the success of our whole life depend. It is important because it is by right thought that we can overcome harmful suggestion.
First of all we have to realise that thought is the cause of our actions and decisions. It is largely because of this that our circumstances depend upon our thoughts. If, for instance, we do not overcome life’s difficulties in our thoughts, then we can never overcome them in actual experience. By this I mean that our difficulties must be boldly met and conquered in thought, if ever we are to hope to overcome them actually. In a way it is good advice to tell people not to dwell upon their woes but to think of pleasant things instead, but it is liable to lead to a habit of thought almost as destructive as brooding over trouble. This negative application of what is meant to be good advice is responsible for the failure of those who say: “I have tried right- thinking, but it makes no difference.” The reason “it makes no difference” is that it is not right-thinking at all, but actually a form of wrong-thinking. Such people say: “I never indulge in wrong thoughts about my troubles, I refuse to think about them.” Just so, and it is here where the whole trouble lies. Instead of life’s trouble being met boldly and conquered in thought they are run away from. As soon as the mind comes up against an unpleasant thought, thought of an irksome duty that must be done or of a crisis that must be faced, or of a difficulty that has to be overcome, the mind “dodges” it and hits on to something more pleasant. The one who says : “I never think of my troubles” and who runs away from unpleasant thoughts of this kind finds that he can never overcome the actual difficulties when they arise. In fact his so-called right thinking prevents him from making decisions and from dealing firmly and sensibly with his difficulties. We must first overcome in our thoughts, if ever we are to overcome in actual experience.
The world may be divided into two classes of people: (1) those who overcome life, and (2) those who are overcome by life. Those who overcome life’s difficulties are those who do so in thought. Those who are overcome by life’s difficulties, are those who do not overcome in thought. If the latter have not deliberately made a practice of “dodging” unpleasant thoughts in an unfortunate attempt to follow a form of wrong thinking which they erroneously believed to be right-thinking, they yet are passive; that is, they fail to overcome, in thought, the difficulty that must be overcome, sooner or later, in actual experience.
The secret of overcoming is in thought victory. If we continually overcome in our thoughts we develop a steadfast mind. Without a steadfast mind it is impossible to be victorious in life’s battle. On the other hand, there is no difficulty, capable of human solution, that cannot be overcome by a steadfast mind. Indeed, if a man’s mind is steadfastly directed towards a certain object, not only will he be truly successful, but the most remarkable things may happen or be achieved, beyond anything that might be hoped for or expected.
The mind becomes powerful, growing in strength continually, through meeting a difficulty, in thought; moving forward towards the difficulty, in thought; and then putting the weight of the mind and will behind it. Then the “whole man” moves forward, going right through the difficulty to the other side, victoriously. This generates inward power, that is cumulative, which, when we come to our difficulty in actual experience, helps us through it successfully.
Now this is quite different from worrying over things. Worry is a destroyer. By worrying over our troubles we not only stimulate fear, one of the most destructive of the emotions,
but we also wear grooves in the brain, round which our thoughts revolve in endless repetition. The brain becomes so constructed or arranged, through the practice of worrying, that worry becomes a habit. That is to say, as soon as a thought of some impending trouble comes to us, or something goes wrong in our life or work, or we think that something has gone wrong or will go wrong, or we fear that it may go wrong, then immediately the cells used by worry are stimulated into action–being already fully charged with nervous energy, waiting to explode–and round and round the thoughts go, along the groove prepared for them. Then good-bye to our peace of mind; good-bye to sleep; and, in time, good-bye to health.
Unfortunately, allowing such mental pictures to occupy the mind is liable to attract to them the very conditions that they fear and visualise; therefore, it is of the utmost importance that all such negative mental pictures should be reversed into their positive opposites. By this means, not only are the evil effects of such harmful picturings avoided but the very opposite states are made possible in one’s experience. If instead these mental pictures of failure, poverty, disaster, accident, disease and death are transmuted into pictures of success, prosperity, health, protection from danger and a happy old age, then these desirable states tend to manifest in the life, in place of the undesirable ones which might have appeared otherwise. For instance, if instead of seeing a mental picture of eviction, or of being “sold up” as a result of not being able to pay the rent, a mental picture is persisted in of rent paid, a comfortable home, with no care, then this happy state of affairs is likely to manifest–much more so than would otherwise be the case. As mental picturing is probably the most powerful form of thinking, too much importance can hardly be paid to its right cultivation.