I used to hate it when people would say to me, “It’s all in your mind!”
Whether trying to lose weight, quit smoking, or stop worrying, I hated those words! Yet once I came to understand there was some truth behind the cliché, I began to notice the life application. Trying to quell habits has never really helped anyway; the battle really is in the mind.
All who know me now agree I am one of the most positive people on earth. Those who knew me some thirty years ago would say the opposite. I was depressed, hated the world and was even suicidal. However, in the years following, I learned by the grace of God to turn my life around physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally. Through thirty years of teaching, speaking and traveling all over the world, I have come to truly believe that almost everything begins with our thoughts. I, like others who have been a prisoner to our own way of thinking, can learn to be both positive and productive. I am not a Pollyanna nor do I wear rose-colored glasses. Having been negative for many years, I am fully able to empathize with those who still are. Now I can help others change their minds.
Having co-founded an alternative high school, I loved the challenge of motivating the unmotivated. They were so much like I had been in high school that I seemed to instinctively know how to reach them. Conversely as an adjunct professor in the Master’s Program at Webster University, I often empathized with adult learners in the same way. My lesson “On Fire or Burned Out” targeted both ends of the spectrum. The choice to enjoy the daily journey or to just survive until graduation or retirement depends on our mindset.
One of my favorite community activities through the years has been prison ministry. Not surprisingly, I have found similarities. The biggest difference is that for some in the prison population, this becomes a first time opportunity to realize they have this choice. Their “boot camp experience” so to speak allows them to learn they too can change their whole mindset, and eventually their futures. Instead of “doing time” they learn to use time for available schooling, classes, religious and legal studies. As many are making plans for when they get out, others are making plans for how to beat the system.
A positive person seeks out positive choices and expects positive results.
Having been in over sixty foreign countries, many times we find the people have virtually nothing. Yet many in the most adverse circumstances still find purpose, hope and joy.
There is an old adage that says, “Perception is reality.” Think about it. Two people can experience the same adversity; yet one grows because of it while the other gives up. We can’t control all of our circumstances, but we can learn to control how we react. An example is two brothers I had as students who grew up in what they called “The Projects” here in St. Louis. They both were raised by an elderly grandmother since their father was in prison and their mother was an alcoholic. One ended up homeless, doing and selling drugs, with no hope for his future. The other worked hard in school, went on to college and became a successful businessman. When asked what the difference was, the first son replied, “With an alcoholic father in prison and no mother, I had no choice.” The second successful son replied, “With an alcoholic father in prison and no mother, I had no choice.” Actually they both did. One chose to use his negative circumstance as an excuse to fail; the other chose to use it as a catalyst to overcome. And so it is for you and me. Once we get our mind out of the gutter, the rest will follow. And once we are out of our “gutters” what a joy to reach down and help one more out as well. Each one can reach one, or two, or far beyond.
Read more posts by Debra Peppers, Ph.D., here. Dr. Peppers blogs for JenningsWire.
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