by Bernie Siegel, M.D. excerpted from 101 Exercises for the Soul
In fact, by spending all your time creating a vision of an unhappy future, you help create that future. Remember, your thoughts guide your decisions, and negative thoughts lead to negative decisions. Nothing is solved by visualizing the worst outcome, but much can be accomplished when you desire and intend to achieve the best possible result. Optimists may not be more accurate about life – whether interpreting the past or predicting the future – but they live longer than pessimists.
Over God’s desk there is a plaque that reads,
If you go around saying I’ve got a miserable life, I’ll show you what miserable really is. And if you go around saying I’ve got a wonderful life, I’ll show you what wonderful really is. A positive attitude can open many doors for you and help create the life you desire.
A negative attitude affects you first by ruining your moment-to-moment happiness. This truth was brought home to me many years ago. One of our children, then aged seven, had an X-ray that revealed a bone tumor. The odds were that it was a malignant tumor and that he would not see another year of life. I was very depressed by what I thought was going to happen, and my attitude showed it. I also tried to get my wife and his four siblings to understand and develop the proper depressing attitude. After all, how you can you laugh and play when someone you love is going to die?
One day our son walked into the room where I was sitting and said,
Dad, can I talk to you?
Sure, what is it?
Dad, you’re handling this poorly.
With his talk, my son reminded me of what every child and animal knows instinctively: Today is the only day that exists. And as for my son, I was wrong about what was going to happen; he survived and is very much alive and happy today.
The future is unknown, and we should never let our fears, worries and negative attitudes prevent us from enjoying the day and finding fulfillment, no matter what tomorrow seems to hold.
When disappointments and setbacks occur, learn to view them as events that will redirect you to something good. My mother taught me this, and it creates a positive shift in your attitude and your view of the future. Cultivating a hopeful approach to life is an important part of your soul workout. [It will] strengthen your outlook and help you to create the life you desire.
Excerpted from the book 101 Exercises for the Soul, copyright 2010 by Bernie Siegel. Printed with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA.