We are all free to choose our thoughts, which control all of our experiences.
And regardless of our circumstances, we always have the freedom to choose the way we think.
Certainly outside circumstances, people, events etc. influence our thoughts and 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 thought or belief.
I battled with this concept during the months when my body was fighting the intense battle with intestinal disease.
I had put my firm belief out there prior to getting sick, that This Is A Truly Amazing Life, and that we are all in control of our thoughts and thus we are all in control of our life experience.
And then one day all of a sudden my body started 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 for an emergency surgery removal of my large intestine.
I would have likely died…
…if I didn’t get surgery that very day to remove my colon because it had perforated in multiple spots.
But before and after that day, as I suffered through months of debilitating daily intense pain, I was accosted with negative thoughts, and attacks on my previously promoted beliefs.
In April, 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. This poster became my daily reminder, and I now refer to it as the 12 pillars of a Truly Amazing Life. I spent weeks pondering and writing on why it was that I was waking up each day so full of energy, life, excitement, and thrill to be alive. And these are the core reasons why for me. 2012 was an amazingly joy-filled year for me. I learned how it was possible to never have a bad day, and I LOVED living that way.
Then in August, for no apparent reason, my seemingly healthy body became overcome by pain and severe disease. 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.
But I can still honestly say that through it all I never classified any day as a ‘bad day’. I went through the most severe and intense trials, pain, and challenges of my life, but I did not then, and still don’t look at any of that as bad.
However, I do have to say there were a few moments when I wanted to tear this poster off the wall and rip it in half. In those moments I could only see my pain and how my life pretty much sucked.
How could this all be true? How could I think that life is truly amazing when I’m suffering daily with intense pain that I didn’t even know the cause of? And how can I help others improve their lives and by helping them see we are in control of our thoughts when I feel like I am floundering and completely out of control of anything??
My circumstances had gone from really, really awesome, to horrendously nightmarish almost overnight.
And I couldn’t see how I had any control over that.
And I certainly didn’t have any conscious control over it. Now that I understand the cause better, I can see how I did indeed play a part in the cause, but not intentionally of course…and that’s a topic for another time.
But not feeling in control of anything, I seriously began to doubt those previously firm beliefs. And literally every part of that poster and my beliefs were put to the extreme test.
And here are the result of those tests:
It’s all true.
Every word of that poster. I don’t care what your circumstances are. Nobody controls your thoughts except you.
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 incredibly difficult circumstances, or I could choose to focus my attention on the potential good that may come of this experience.
Nobody could force me one way or the other.
The circumstances certainly influenced me to focus on how horrible life was and how unfair everything was. But even though I was bombarded with those thoughts constantly, there was always another thought possible. There was always a positive side to every single thought and circumstance.
I can now affirm from a place of more experiential knowledge, that this is indeed a Truly Amazing Life. And believing that, and doing the other 11 things outlined on that poster, are absolutely possible regardless of one’s circumstances.
Regardless of your circumstances you absolutely can choose to Believe that This Is A Truly Amazing Life and live it that way.
Regardless of your circumstances you can Celebrate Life, Smile, Enjoy and find meaning in the moment, Choose your thoughts and Create your life experience, Succeed, Remember who you are, Empower others, Give of yourself, Grow, and Love unconditionally.
All of those things are possible no matter what circumstances you find yourself in.
And I submit that doing those things is the most fulfilling way to live life.
This is just one example, but regardless of your circumstances you can absolutely smile. Well, I guess if you had severe facial damage you would have a hard time with that one temporarily, but even then you can smile with your eyes, heart, and thoughts.
And believe me – I understand how completely challenging this is when you are suffering with despair, depression, and severe pain. I have been there. And I completely failed to smile sometimes, even though I knew it would help me. It can be very hard.
But other times I succeeded. And it made a massive difference in my life in that moment when despite all hell being loosed against me I smiled anyway. It was incredibly empowering, and brought me joy in moments that would have otherwise been consumed by despair.
So Smile! You will be amazed at the result of what that physical action 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 circumstances. And while you’re looking in the mirror anyway, remind yourself of who you are. And say I love you to yourself and tell yourself why. You will be amazed at how much your emotions will improve by doing that.
If you need more proof that you can do these 12 things regardless of your circumstances, 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 he was able to find joy and meaning throughout his horrendous experiences in those camps. And actually, the reason he survived was principally because he sought to find meaning, purpose, and joy in all of his circumstances, rather than allowing himself to think thoughts of defeat.
Regardless of Our Circumstances, This Is A Truly Amazing Life!
Believe it! It’s true.
P.S. – I am running every day now. I’ve gained over 10 pounds in the last couple weeks, almost up to 160. Every day I’m gaining strength as well as passion and excitement for life. The last few months were insanely challenging and trying, but I’m thrilled to report that I’m back to being able to be a husband and a Dad again. And what makes me happier than anything is that my 8 year old son has recovered immensely in the last week and appears to be back to his sensitive, fun, excited about life, pre-emotional breakdown self. My heart is full of gratitude for many things.