Are we truly free to direct our own thoughts?
And how does our thinking affect our situation?
I battled with these questions a LOT in 2012 when my body was fighting an intense battle with intestinal disease.
I had very publicly declared my belief prior to getting sick, that “this is a Truly Amazing Life,” and that we are all in control of our thoughts and thus our life experience.
Then one day suddenly my body began breaking itself down for no apparent reason and became ravaged by disease.
Over the course of 2 months I lost over 50 pounds and ended up getting hauled off to the ER in an ambulance in the middle of the night to have an emergency surgery removing my large intestine.
Here’s a picture of me 2 days later:
It was pretty grim.
I would have likely died of toxic shock if I didn’t get surgery that very day to remove my diseased colon. It was basically disintegrating…riddled with holes.
But before and after that day, as I suffered through months of debilitating, intense pain, I was accosted with negative thoughts, and attacks on my previously promoted beliefs.
We are all free to direct our own thoughts.
And our thoughts quite literally dictate our experience in life.
And the big kicker…everything is conspiring for your benefit!
Obviously our thoughts don’t control and dictate every circumstance. But they absolutely do control our own personal state of being.
And regardless of our situation, we always have the freedom to choose the way we think.
Of course outside circumstances, people, & events influence thinking. But ultimately it is up to us to decide what to think and how to think it.
We get to decide whether to accept or reject any way of thinking.
Just a few months before I became deathly ill, when everything in life was smooth sailing, I had created this poster as a foundational reminder to myself of what things bring me true fulfillment.
That poster became my daily reminder, and I now refer to those principles as the 12 pillars of a Truly Amazing Life.
I had spent weeks pondering and writing on why I kept waking up each day so full of energy, life, excitement, and absolutely thrilled to be alive.
And those were the core reasons why.
I wanted to capture them on poster as a reminder for myself for the future because I had a feeling it wasn’t always going to be that easy to feel amazing all the time.
I felt like I needed some kind of anchor to keep me from drifting away from this amazing state I found myself in.
And then about 3 months later, for no apparent reason, my seemingly healthy body suddenly became overwhelmed by pain and severe disease.
Very quickly I was no longer waking up each day absolutely thrilled.
In fact, I was rarely going to sleep the pain was so intense most nights!
Everything had changed so fast.
Quite suddenly I found myself wanting to tear that poster off the wall and rip it into pieces!!
In those moments, all I could see was my pain and how life was pretty much terrible! Made even worse by the contrast of how amazing I felt just weeks before.
How could those words be true?
How could anyone think that life is truly amazing when they are suffering intense pain daily, almost constantly?
And how can I possibly help others improve their lives and see that we are in control of our thoughts when I feel like I am floundering and completely out of control of anything?!?
Especially the negative thoughts bombarding my head space!
My situation had gone from exceptionally fantastic, to horrendously nightmarish almost overnight.
And I couldn’t see how I had any control over any of that happening to me.
Nor did I have any clue what I could do to change it.
So I suddenly found myself questioning, and even hating those previously firm beliefs.
Literally every word, every stated belief on that poster was put to the extreme test.
As I’m sure you have experienced too, negative states hate positivity with a passion.
When I was in that state, I probably would have hated getting this email from me.
But as it turns out, here are the results of those tests: It’s all true.
Every single word.
And every day as I waded through the pain, I didn’t rip down the poster.
Because every time I tried to hate those words, I had to admit they were true.
And as soon as I did…as soon as I let go of my hate and anger toward my situation and opened my heart to the truth that something amazing is in all of this…
…Miraculously joy would come flooding in.
And I discovered from very personal experiences more painful than I can possibly describe, that our circumstances do not dictate our state.
I often found myself overcome with tears of joy, completely elated and overwhelmed with gratitude, even in the midst of intense, burning pain in my body.
I knew this on some level before, but I came to understand very deeply that…
…Rregardless of our situation, truly we get to direct our own thoughts.
I found out that even in the midst of severe, intense, unrelenting pain, I still had free will to think however I chose to think.
I could choose to see the pain as bad for me, or good for me.
I could choose to focus my attention on the pain and the loss, or I could choose to focus my attention on the potential good that may come of the experience.
Nobody could force me one way or the other.
My situation certainly brimmed with opportunities to focus on the horrific pain.
But even bombarded with negative thoughts constantly, there was always another thought possible.
There was always a positive side to every single thought and circumstance.
Now I can affirm from intense personal experience, that this is indeed a Truly Amazing Life.
And believing that, and actually living the principles outlined on that poster, are absolutely possible – regardless of one’s situation.
Regardless of your situation you absolutely can choose to Believe that this is a Truly Amazing Life…and live it that way.
Regardless of your situation you can:
– Celebrate Life in some way!
– Enjoy and find meaning in this moment
– Choose your thoughts
– Create your life experience
– Succeed right now by simply focusing on one thing.
– Remember who you are
– Empower others
– Give of yourself
– Grow and expand your mind
– Love unconditionally.
All of those things are possible no matter what situation you find yourself in.
And I submit that living those principles is the way to live a deeply fulfilling life each day.
Here’s just one example:
Regardless of your situation you can absolutely smile.
And believe me, I understand how completely challenging that is when you are suffering with despair, depression, and/or severe pain.
I have been there.
And I completely failed to smile many times, even though I knew it would help me.
It can be very hard.
But other times I succeeded!
Even when everything in me desperately did not want to smile.
And it made a massive difference in that moment when despite all hell being loosed against me I smiled anyway.
It was incredibly empowering.
It brought me joy in moments that would have otherwise been consumed by despair.
Seriously, when you are down, whether it’s major or not…
…Just try to smile!
See what happens!
You will be amazed at the result of what that physical action can and will enable in your mind.
And even better than just smiling…look in the mirror and smile!
No matter what you are going through, I guarantee you will be better off for doing that.
And you absolutely can do it regardless of your situation.
And while you’re looking in the mirror anyway, remind yourself of who you are.
Tell yourself “I love you!” and reminde yourself why. You will likely be amazed at how much your emotions will change and improve by doing that.
If you need more proof that you can live the 12 pillars of a Truly Amazing Life regardless of your situation, go read “Man’s Search For Meaning” by Victor Frankl.
It’s an amazing and completely inspirational book.
His experiences of years of suffering in Nazi concentration camps were exponentially worse than anything I have gone through, and yet he was able to find joy and meaning throughout his horrendous experiences in those camps.
His example and teachings are so valuable.
And the reality is, the very reason he survived those camps was primarily because he sought to find meaning, purpose, and joy in all of his circumstances…
…Rather than allowing himself to think thoughts of defeat and despair.
Regardless of your situation, you can live a Truly Amazing Life!
That’s the truth.
Make today amazing somehow! Take the reigns. Even if you currently feel like today pretty much stinks! I dare you 😉