Thursday, December 16, 2004

Possibility Thinkers

Recently a dear friend of my husband passed away. The first thing we both remembered about him was his happy, optimistic attitude toward everything. There were no "problems" to him; only possibilities. Things that others thought were obstacles, he thought were opportunities. When he was present, it was like the sun was shining. He was full of life and always making people laugh. The last time I saw him, he was making up a game at our anniversary party, with my first grandchild, and making him laugh. I thought I would like to preserve that child's laughter, as it was so contagious. Now that this man, and others like him of that age (he was 77) are passing on, I wonder if the next generation is willing to pass the torch of the great optimism and possibility thinking of some of those people. It does seem to me that younger people tend to look on the gloomy side of life. There doesn't seem to be many people like "the old folks" used to be. When they got together for church or family events, even in their 70's and 80's they were always laughing and kidding each other. They always seemed thrilled to see others, and treated them like they were celebreties. This man was a one-of-a kind person. He wasn't made from a mold, and you couldn't pinpoint his personality into a category. He wasn't typically anything, except typically himself.He was happy being who he was, and totally unselfconscious about it.

Today my daughter made a speech about her grandmother, to a gathering of ladies at a Bible class luncheon. This Bible class has been meeting for almost 40 years. Some have gone home, and new ones have come along. Like this man, her grandmother saw a possibility in everything, even a trouble. Her greatest goal in life was to bring a large attendance to her Ladies Bible Class, which she taught on Thursdays. She went too often to the fruit and vegetable stand here, just to buy one or two more portions so she could use the opportunity to win the woman over and get her to the weekly class. Her persistance paid off. She never left her neighbor alone. No matter who was renting the house next door, Grandma would eventually get them to the Ladies Bible Class.

When it seems we are faced with some impossible situation, it causes us to think deeply and search creatively within our minds for a solution. If you don't have something, you can substitute or create. I heard a speech once in which a man said, "The only thing holding you back is your own mind." While it is true that there are unchangeables in our lives, such as our race, our place of birth, our parents, etc., and other things for which we have no choice, most of our circumstances can be changed, if we want to change them. This speaker also said something interesting. "Many people want to go on holidays and get away from the things that stress them and bother them. The only problem is, they take their minds with them, and they end up creating the same stresses and difficulties, through negative thinking."

Possibility thinking is easier if you've been brought up around optimistic people. If not, it takes some practice to get rid of the habit of being depressed or looking on the downside of everything. The best way to do this, I've heard, is to substitute a "yes" for a "no." Every time you think you can't possibly achieve something that would make life better for others and yourself, substitute a plan for achieving it, as if there were no barriers. Even if you never manage it, it does your mind a great deal of good to think on the bright side of life. For everything you think of as a problem, you have to substitute a creative alternative, and put it into practice.

From what I've observed, I think it is best to begin with small changes, rather than trying to change things on a grand scale. It is less discouraging to achieve small victories. These can be things like having company more often, getting rid of decades of accumlated clutter, smiling more often, and being an inspiration to the people in your neighborhood, to name only a few.


Lydia said...

"Impossible" appears very few times in scripture. For the most part, when someone is in a situation they claim is "impossible" to get out of, it is because they do not accept the alternatives available, or refuse to try them. There also may be an underlying motive to do something that they really want to do, as a solution to their problem. For example, the thinking that earning overrides moral decisions: - that no matter where you work, or who you work with, or what you are producing, it is desireable because being paid is more important. The end justifies the means, as they say. Biblical, Godly, wholesome alternatives are always available. It is a matter of opening the mind to the possibilities out there.

Laura Lane said...

Hello Mrs. Sherman,
What a wonderful way to be remembered. Possibility thinking is rare, but I'd like to develop it further in my life. I try to be positive, but old habits do die hard sometimes.
Be blessed,
Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage