As within, so without. Those four words compose one of the most powerful truths brought to mankind.
And I am almost ashamed to admit that it took me a lot of the twenty-five years since my first exposure to metaphysics to have that awareness crystallize in my consciousness. That what happens within is the determinant to what happens without. Carrying it one step further, in order to change our physical lives, we must look within for answers.
That's where meditation and prayer come into play.
Through meditation and prayer, we can change our thoughts. And with the changing of our thoughts comes the changing of our lives in the physical.
The Buddha says all we are is the result of our thoughts. We are made by our thoughts.
If we choose to accept the Buddha's words as truth, then it would seem logical to monitor our thoughts.
After all, we have dominion over our thoughts, although sometimes we find ourselves saying "I can't help what I think."
We Can Help What We Think
We can help what we think. At this moment I choose to think I'm going to take a London vacation, that to root for the Chicago Cubs is to set yourself up for one hundred disappointments a year, that a pretty girl is like a melody, and that time and space exist as long as light exists.
So, if we have dominion over our thoughts, wouldn't it make sense to think thoughts that lead to happiness instead of thoughts that lead to sadness, depression, and despair? I categorically think so.
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I was on a US Airways flight out of Atlanta, bound for Buffalo, when the idea struck me! How many thoughts that lead to happiness could I list? I opened my flight bag, pulled out my pad and pencil and began to write.
Quite to my surprise, after filling out one page, I noticed two elderly women standing to my right watching what I was doing. One of them asked, "What are you writing?"
Thoughts That Lead to Happiness
"I'm writing thoughts that lead to happiness," I answered playfully.
"Oh yeah. What's a thought that leads to happiness?" she asked, picking up my playful attitude.
How about number one on the list?
1. Send Love To Someone You Feel Has Wronged You
"Why should we do that?" she asked, with the playfulness subsiding and interest taking its place.
"Well, for one thing, carrying around anger robs you of peace and tranquility. After all, you started out peacefully, then you perceived someone did something to you that shouldn't have been done, and you chose to be angry about it.
"So another person has taken your power. Now you're walking around angry and resentful, and how long is that going to last?
"You chose to be angry, but there is the other choice. Love. And when love is introduced, the healing begins. For the other guy as well as yourself. And this way you remain tranquil."
The woman thought about it for a moment and then asked for a copy of the first page I had written.
She had been touched by the fact that she had a choice.
It isn't a given that anger must be returned with anger.
We don't have to act destructively just because the other person acts that way. We have a choice.
I know that this may appear to be a difficult concept to accept, but isn't it worth a try -- what have you got to lose?
And as the women returned to their seats, after vowing to return for the copy they requested, I thought to myself, "Maybe I have something here. . . ."
I began to ponder number two on the list
2. There Are No Bad Guys
When we take a good look at the "bad guys" who appear in our lives and analyze who they are and what they're thinking, we suddenly realize that they're teachers who have come along at precisely the right moment in our lives. That's what they are: teachers. They present an obstacle to overcome that teaches us a lesson to be learned, forcing us to stretch ourselves because they stand in the way of the path that leads to our personal heaven.
They're an illusion that appears to be very real.
I remember standing in the doorway of my carpet store in Key West, looking out at the road being torn up. The city fathers had voted to "four-lane" Flagler Avenue, and anybody who had a business there had better beware. We were looking at six months of torn-up road.
I remember thinking, "Darn it. The business is just getting off the ground. Now what?"
I had a couple of choices.
One: I could visit City Hall and complain. Saying that to tear up Flagler Avenue would mean the finish of most of the small businesses located there. But I knew that wouldn't stop them.
Two: I could abandon the business and look for a new livelihood, because it would be impossible to survive once that road was completely torn up. Customers just wouldn't park three blocks away and overcome an obstacle course to get to my store. It was asking too much.
Three: I could look for a new location and hope for the best.
I chose number three. And it was to be a choice that would thrust me into a position of financial gain that no one could have foreseen.
So, where's the bad guy? It would seem the city fathers assumed that role.
But with everything played out, we discover that instead of bad guys, they were the instrument that forced me to move downtown (a desolate area at the time).
You could actually have called it a ghost town. As I think back, I say to myself, "It truly was a ghost town. Spirit was there."
And when the opportunity arose to purchase the largest building in downtown Key West, at bargain prices, just prior to the tourist business explosion, I now know that spirit was there.
I didn't have a dime to put down and still managed to acquire that building. So the city fathers, acting without concern for the business on Flagler Avenue, seeming to be the bad guy, in my case turned out to be the good guy.
Bad guys are actors in the play of life, and since we write our own script, where's the problem?
If we would just row our own boat and go gently down the stream, we would realize that obstacles appearing on the path are really teachers: forcing us to stretch ourselves as we reach higher.
Now, those are two thoughts that lead to happiness. And as I bring them to you, I am more convinced that merely by adjusting our thoughts, our choices in life, we can guarantee our own bliss, our own happiness.
3. Using Our Creativity Rids Us of Depression
When I was traveling around the country in a musical group, getting nowhere fast, I was often angry and depressed because of what seemed to be a no-win situation.
But when I finally stopped the music and created a carpet business out of a two-hundred-dollar investment, I used my time to enhance the carpet business instead of thinking about anger and depression.
I loved that business from the beginning, and when you love what you're doing, good things happen, because you are bathed in God's Light.
4. Don't Hurry, Don't Worry, Don't Think Too Much
Egypt is a great place to visit. If you can get there, get there. And please don't miss the Pyramid of Gisa. When you're at the Pyramid, visit the King's Chamber and the Queen's Chamber. Ancient energies are awaiting those who are aware.
I'll never forget the old man who had been hanging around the Pyramid for many, many years. His name is Champion, and he might still be there.
His words of wisdom were, "Don't hurry, don't worry, and don't think too much."
Pretty good advice for a person seeking happiness.
5. Listen -- Meditate
There is an inner voice speaking to you at all times. You'll never hear it if you don't quiet your mind. Listen -- Meditate.
The voice saved my life.
I was on Kennedy Drive in Key West waiting for the light to turn green so I could make a left on Route 1.
Just as it did, and I was about to go, a tiny voice in my head said, "Wait!"
"What do you mean," I thought. I hesitated and a car came speeding through the red light, going at least 60 mph. Wow, I thought.
After regaining my composure, I found that the light had turned red for me.
Then it turned green, and, again, I heard the voice, "Wait." And impossible as it may seem, again a car came crashing through the red light.
Twice, within a period of ninety seconds, I was saved.
My mind is forever tuned in to the small voice that is talking to me.
6. Read About Love
Feeling down in the dumps? Read about love.
The advice I'm speaking of has worked for me hundreds of times. I'm so happy it came to mind to include it in this book.
When you're feeling bad and dejected, pick up a book by Alan Cohen, Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, Marianne Williamson, Leo Buscaglia, and many others. They speak of love, and when you read about love, it is impossible not to have your spirit lifted.
7. Catapult Yourself into Your Dreams
No matter what your situation in life, you can catapult yourself into the place of your dreams.
The key is to believe -- I mean believe -- or to put it another way, to know of the world of infinite possibilities.
I know what happened to me. And now I know that another level is always there within reach. And another level after that. Look at all the examples that you know of. The same possibilities are there for everyone.
* Elvis Presley: from Tupelo, Mississippi to worldwide fame.
* Colonel Sanders: refusing to accept failure, ends up with KFC.
* Bill Gates: from his garage to billions of dollars in his possession.
There are endless examples.
Set your goal and take a step toward it. It can become a reality.
8. Teach and Learn
You teach best what you most need to learn. -- Richard Bach's Illusions
For the past thirty years, I have had this burning desire to absorb God's truths, and I know in my heart that if I were to lecture on them, they would be impressed in me as spiritual knowings, instead of just surface information.
Just repeating the words Love, Forgive, Give, Go Within, etc., and explaining their meaning, is a most satisfying thing in my life. I can feel the peacefulness come over me as I write these words. Please don't miss this opportunity open to all.
9. Live To Never Be Ashamed
Live never to be ashamed of anything you've ever done. Then you can go about your life without fearing something might surface that you aren't proud of.
It's being impeccable, it's showing the people you encounter that you can be counted on to be an ally - never an enemy. There's a good line: Always be an ally -- never an enemy.
It's doing things that you know will enhance the quality of someone's life, and it's not doing things that carry a measure of destruction with them.
Everybody deserves a high quality of life. Everybody. Leave judgment out.
So, staying on a path of heal and reveal is going to bring the sweetness of life to you.
Then, you will be living without the fear of exposure. And any fear we can eliminate from our lives takes us one step closer to God.
10. Always in a Healing Mode
We are always in a healing mode -- physically, spiritually, mentally.
Even if you reject the idea of meditating (and I can't think of one good reason why you would), just closing your eyes and being still for a few moments will allow you to feel the healing going on.
Think about the healing you are absolutely sure of. Like cutting yourself with a kitchen knife. Do you have any doubt that the cut will heal itself? Of course not.
That is physical healing.
Mental and spiritual healing work in the same manner.
Have you recently gone through a divorce? Lost a loved one or suffered some other emotional stress? In most of these cases, time is the healer. Of course you never forget the lost loved one, but at least the emotionalism is reduced to a minimum.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Hampton Roads.
100 Thoughts That Lead To Happiness: A Metaphysical Primer
by Len Chetkin.
In every way possible, who we are is the result of what we think. Here's how to understand how that really works. What Len Chetkin learned the hard way, you can learn the easy way, in this simple yet profound little book.
About the Author
LEN CHETKIN is a retired home furnishings entrepreneur and real estate investor who owns a fine dining restaurant in western New York. His first book, Guess Who's Jewish, was published by the Donning Company in 1985.