By Patricia: One of the things I have learned as a reader is that what makes the most difference in our lives is not what happens to us or around us, or what people do to us or for us, it is what we think about those things. I have had friends who can take the happiest events and make something dire and negative out of them, and other friends who can take disasters and find something positive. Of these two groups of friends, I would far rather hang out with those who find the positive rather than those who find the negative. One of the things that is universally true is that you will find what you spend your time looking for, good or bad.
If you are a person who tends to focus on the negative, change is a matter of training your brain by catching the negative thoughts about what can go wrong, and replacing that thought with either the solution to that negative thought, or a positive thought to replace the negative one. Sometimes you can do both at the same time. For example, if you are going on a vacation and you intend to drive a long distance. You may think, “What if my car breaks down while I’m in the middle of nowhere?”. You could resolve that issue by getting your mechanic to safety-check the car – brakes, oil, tires, engine, etc. You can check to be sure you have towing and repair insurance. Or, you can remind yourself that it is a good, solid car and isn’t likely to break down. Or you can do more than one of these. That will derail the negative thought, and you can relax and enjoy your vacation.
What does all that have to do with obstacles and opportunities? Your attitude toward a problem can make that problem either an obstacle or an opportunity – it all depends on how you look at it. A change in attitude can change your world. One real-world example. We had two horses boarded at a stable about 50 miles (80 kilometers) from our house. The ranch owner allowed us to board there in exchange for labor a few days a week. One day, the owner decided she no longer liked the deal and gave us 5 weeks to find a new home for our horses. Huge obstacle – we had to build a corral and a tack room-hay storage building before we could bring the horses home. We could manage the corral, as we already owned enough of the panels that enclose a corral, so all we had to do was transport them home and set them up – about 2-3 weeks of labor for 2 senior women.
However, there was no way to afford a prefab shed or the wood it would take to build one ourselves. We could have looked at this obstacle and given up; just tried to drape a tarp over everything and hope for the best. Looking at the need for a shed as an obstacle would have had us defeated. Instead, we looked at it as an opportunity to get creative. We used pallets, which can be gotten very cheaply, and repurposed wood we had on the property. Is the tack room pretty? No. Is it functional? Yes. We are actually pretty proud of it. By changing our attitude from “we can’t afford it” to “how can we do this?”, we created an opportunity to learn new building skills to do what we needed to do. We turned the obstacle into an opportunity.
This can apply to just about everything in our lives. Anytime we look at a problem, we decide how we are going to approach that problem. Look at the people around you. I am willing to bet that the people who look at a problem with a positive, can-do attitude get far more problems solved than those who approach a problem with a negative, what-more-can-go-wrong attitude. In addition, those with positive attitudes tend to have friends who also have a positive attitude. People with positive attitudes are far more likely to reach out and help when a friend is in trouble.
Basically, if you spend your time looking for all the things that can go wrong, then at least some of those things will go wrong. On the other hand, if you spend your time looking for all the things that can go right, at least some of those things will go right. It’s kind of like target fixation. Remember when you were learning to ride a bike, roller blade, ski, whatever sport where you use your body to help determine direction. You’re riding your bike and all of a sudden, a ball appears out of nowhere rolling across the road. You stare at the ball, telling yourself “Don’t hit the ball, don’t hit the ball”. If you continue to stare at that ball as it rolls across the road, odds are very high you are going to hit it. (This is the voice of experience, by the way.) So those who look for obstacles and bad experiences will find them. Those who look for opportunities and great experiences will find them. It’s our own choice, every time. It does, however, take practice to look for what you want to find.
Love and Light,
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