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Monday, September 12, 2016

Choosing Hope in the Midst of Despair


There is much to be said about how you use choice in your life. Most particularly, the way you choose to react and behave, and where you choose to find hope in the midst of despair, may well make the difference between a life of frequent pain and one of inner well-being and harmony despite outer events.

Choice comes into it in many ways, but one of the most immediate and important, is choosing to remain aware. You can't possibly make choices that are good for you if you are not aware of the fact - in a situation of despair, pain, or fear - that your thoughts are running away on you; indeed, that it is precisely your thoughts that are causing much of the turmoil that is going on inside of you.

Next on the list of how choice comes into it is choosing to actively do something about those thoughts that are running away on you. By being aware of them you can do this (begin to practice doing this), and most particularly, you can choose to first find a place of inner calm and equanimity before you consider what might need to be done out there, on other levels, in order to deal with the event.

So you choose to become aware in general in your life at all possible times, and you choose to intend to be in charge of your thoughts when they race towards places in your mind that do you no good, and you choose to focus elsewhere in order to achieve that inner harmony and equanimity. Note that this is not a question of running away from a problem, or pretending it doesn't exist, but rather, a question of deciding you will first take charge of yourself, your inner state of being by taking charge of your thoughts. In order to do so, you will help yourself greatly by choosing where to focus. The more you focus on the event and the emotions it has created, the more you increase the weight of the thoughts that do you no good. And so you choose to focus elsewhere. You can focus on beauty, as I so often recommend here.

Focusing on beauty in nature is a simple method that allows you to be present. Being present (or mindful) allows you to leave that dark space in the past or future where your thoughts had taken you - the thoughts that fill you with trepidation, pain, worry, stress, or fear. Being present allows you to access inner calm. And being in a space of inner calm, allows you to choose your thoughts. Choosing your thoughts implies you can choose hope (and if you don't believe me, or if you think your particular situation is so much worse than anything I could imagine and hence does not apply to this post, take a look at the lives of Viktor Frankl, Nelson Mandela, or Christopher Reeve, and the books they wrote from their deepest despair. They chose to choose hope).

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