Positive Thinking . . . A Gift of Faith.
As I've mentioned to you, my father was an insurance salesman who overcame many personal qualities (he was very shy and prone to pessimism) to become an outgoing, confident, highly knowledgeable insurance agent.
Along the way he found a couple of motivational books that helped him get beyond his personality weaknesses: N. V. Peale's How to Win Friends and Influence People, and The Power of Positive Thinking. These were life changers for dad, and he insisted his pouty teenage son read them both.
I hated them. They seemed so '50's, so "establishment" as my generation would caustically remark. "Just think positively and everything will turn out peachy keen," I mocked. "Tell that to the guys in Viet Nam," I said with righteous fervor. Get real dad.
That was a long time ago. As in many things, I've come to see my dad was right. You become what you believe in. You acquire the qualities of what you take into yourself.
For example, if I spend my time watching dark or violent or lustful images, I begin to have a hunger for these things in real life (ever see one of those cage matches on Ultimate Fighting? We become excited by human blood and pain. Horrible).
If I pride myself in finding something wrong in any given situation, I begin to prefer the negative. I feel validated by it, proclaiming myself a "realist". Our spirits are shaped by what we take in to our minds.
On the other hand, if we feed on things that speak of goodness or generosity, forgiveness, mercy, sacrifice, joy and light, our spirits will have that same beauty.
Regard the face of the social worker who has devoted her life to helping the poor, or the face of the old nun who has taught thousands of school children, or the face of the symphony conductor finishing Beethoven's Pastoral symphony . . . They are beautiful! Look at the face of the mother kissing her new born
. . .so full of love.
Now this is not a psychological trick like some chameleon becoming the color it touches. It's real. The light is real. Goodness is real. Love is real. And . . . guess what? The light has overcome the darkness. Love wins!
How do we know this? Because Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. "The Light has shown in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." Jn. 1:5
So what do we do in these winter weeks (and all year)? We take in the light, not the darkness --- you know the difference, you can feel it. We give forth the light, we walk with those in darkness and negativity helping them to see life's goodness.
And all of this "positive thinking" is not just some childish wishful thinking. It's the rock on which we live our lives - - - Take courage. I have overcome the world." JN16:33.
Let's get to work.
"We constantly need to contemplate the mystery of mercy. It is a wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace. Our salvation depends upon it."
(Pope Francis, MV.2)
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