A couple of years ago I thankfully realized that my mind had fallen into an endless cycle of judgement. Strangers I passed on the street were too overweight, dressed in a distracting way, were lazy, or raising their children poorly, my family was focused on the wrong things, unhealthy, victims of their own mindset, and too negative, friends were lazy, complained about things in their lives too much, and didn’t take action to solve their complaints. I was able to find fault in everyone and everywhere! It was quite a gift.
Yes, I am quite embarrassed to write that paragraph, but it is the truth. I was proud of myself that I kept all of these thoughts to myself and that I wasn’t a gossip or a negative talker. I thought that made it all okay and that it was uncontrollable. That these were just the automatic thoughts and the narrative that played in my backdrop of my head when I saw strangers, family, and friends. Yes… What an excuse, I understand now there really is no difference between thinking these things and saying them out loud. Actually, thinking them and not sharing them might actually be more toxic and negative. It was only when I made this realization that I was able to start to clean up my mind and end this constant narrative.
As a Man Thinketh, by James Allen explains this philosophy much more eloquently than I ever could and how I wish I would have stumbled across this book as I was trying to improve my character.
James explains how the state of your mind creates a reality for your body:
“Thought and character are one, and as character can only manifest and discover itself through environment and circumstance, the outer conditions of a person’s life will always be found to be harmoniously related to his inner state. This does not mean that a man’s circumstances at any given time are an indication of his entire character, but that those circumstances are so intimately connected with some vital thought-element within himself that, for the time being, they are indispensable to his development.”
“His wishes and prayers are only gratified and answered when they harmonize with his thoughts and actions.”
James Allen sums up this entire concept very well in this paragraph:
“A man only begins to be a man when he ceases to whine and revile, and commences to search for the hidden justice which regulates his life. And as he adapts his mind to that regulating factor, he ceases to accuse others as the cause of his condition, and builds himself up in strong and noble thoughts; ceases to kick against circumstances, but begins to use them as aids to his more rapid progress, and as a means of discovering the hidden powers and possibilities within himself.
On the other hand, beautiful thoughts of all kinds crystallize into habits of grace and kindliness, which solidify into genial and sunny circumstances: pure thoughts crystallize into habits of temperance and self-control, which solidify into circumstances of repose and peace: thoughts of courage, self-reliance, and decision crystallize into manly habits, which solidify into circumstances of success, plenty, and freedom: energetic thoughts crystallize into habits of cleanliness and industry, which solidify into circumstances of pleasantness: gentle and forgiving thoughts crystallize into habits of gentleness, which solidify into protective and preservative circumstances: loving and unselfish thoughts crystallize into habits of self-forgetfulness for others, which solidify into circumstances of sure and abiding prosperity and true riches.”
Even by surrounding yourself with virtuous folk you still will need to put in an effort yourself:
“A strong man cannot help a weaker unless that weaker is willing to be helped, and even then the weak man must become strong of himself; he must, by his own efforts, develop the strength which he admires in another. None but himself can alter his condition.”
Through complete control of your inner mind you can create a calm, infectious state in your life:
“The strong, calm man is always loved and revered. He is like a shade-giving tree in a thirsty land, or a sheltering rock in a storm. “Who does not love a tranquil heart, a sweet-tempered, balanced life? It does not matter whether it rains or shines, or what changes come to those possessing these blessings, for they are always sweet, serene, and calm. That exquisite poise of character, which we call serenity is the last lesson of culture, the fruitage of the soul. It is precious as wisdom, more to be desired than gold–yea, than even fine gold. How insignificant mere money seeking looks in comparison with a serene life–a life that dwells in the ocean of Truth, beneath the waves, beyond the reach of tempests, in the Eternal Calm!”
I am happy to report that now it is very rare that I have judgmental thoughts. It still happens and when it happens it happens again in quick succession. But now I am aware of it and it proves to me how this cycle is reaffirming and if you don’t put better thoughts in your head it can become a default mode. I was able to rewire my thought pattern, but it required intentional effort and it was a lot of work. But it has been absolutely worth it. I have realized that by loving others unconditionally and trying to find the best in everyone has had another benefit of allowing me to be more at peace with myself, love myself, and to be taken to another level of calm.
“But to think well of all, to be cheerful with all, to patiently learn to find the good in all–such unselfish thoughts are the very portals of heaven; and to dwell day by day in thoughts of peace toward every creature will bring abounding peace to their possessor.”
“Only by much searching and mining, are gold and diamonds obtained, and man can find every truth connected with his being, if he will dig deep into the mine of his soul; and that he is the maker of his character, the moulder of his life, and the builder of his destiny, he may unerringly prove, if he will watch, control, and alter his thoughts, tracing their effects upon himself, upon others, and upon his life and circumstances, linking cause and effect by patient practice and investigation, and utilizing his every experience, even to the most trivial, everyday occurrence, as a means of obtaining that knowledge of himself which is Understanding, Wisdom, Power. In this direction, as in no other, is the law absolute that “He that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened;” for only by patience, practice, and ceaseless importunity can a man enter the Door of the Temple of Knowledge.”