“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble,
whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely,
whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent
or praiseworthy–think about such things.”
— Philippians 4:8, NIV, The Bible
“Why should we think upon things that are lovely?
Because thinking determines life.
It is a common habit to blame life upon the environment.
Environment modifies life but does not govern life.
The soul is stronger than its surroundings.”
— William James
“The more man meditates upon good thoughts,
the better will be his world and the world at large.”
[Classic post from 4-30-11]
I don’t often quote The Bible, but the Philippians quote above is one of my favorites because it continues to guide me to focus on what is going to be most beneficial to my psyche and it encourages love through the act of appreciation. Then William James says it how it is according to what I have learned, that thinking determines life and finding appreciation or things to appreciate keeps us from blame, which is the opposite of appreciation–indeed, it is depreciation. I love the Confucius quote in this mix of quotes because it says it all so succinctly in that the more we focus on good thoughts, the better everything looks and feels.
I would take it considerably further by being open to seeing things we would not normally think of as lovely, or good, and pretend they are. After all, what is lovely or good are judgments as much as what is not, but the main reason is that they all serve us if we will but be open to that possibility.
Can a forest fire also be a benefit? How about a crippling disease? A financial disaster? There are so many examples of things that we might normally think are bad, where it turned out to be the best thing for a wide variety of reasons. Think of some of the famous people who have had devastating losses and come back even stronger and more focused, and even more successful. Or, people who have come back from a crippling accident or disease where they refused to blame circumstance and events and instead counted it as a blessing.
It seems to me that as we blame, we hold ourselves away from the potential of joy and happiness–even as we may think by finding fault not on our court that we indemnify ourselves from harm. As I have seen it around me and in my own life, that blame game is a self-inflicted wound and does more damage to me than anyone else. As Nelson Mandela stated (although he used the word resentment, which is virtually the same idea as blame. . .): “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” So, blame is like trying to make yourself look faultless, and in so doing create personal harm, through resentment and anger.
The best answer I have found is to forget all about blame and when I find myself playing one of those old tapes from memory, turn to focus on good thoughts, things of beauty, excellence, and such, in appreciation of them for the purpose of getting back into alignment with love. It is in purposely and actively practicing this that I find even more to appreciate and find ever more beauty and excellence. Therein is a fountain of joy that one would not know existed otherwise.
When I Focus On Beauty, Excellence, and What I Think Is Right and Good, I Feel Great. Seems Like A Good Enough Reason To Focus There.
Spread Some Joy Today–The best way to spread joy is to be experiencing it!