'I don't believe in miracle!' I said to a friend when she narrated an incident where a terminally ill cancer patient had been cured by sheer will power. It helped her survive not only weeks but years after the doctor had given up her case as hopeless. Is the will so powerful as to counter the onward march of something inevitable?
Can positive thinking be so miraculous? Can I, for instance, think positively and change the color of my skin or increase my height or even change my gender? Obviously not, and obviously, therefore, there are limits to the power of a positive mind- it can achieve results only in the realm of the 'probable'. A longer, better life can become possible. The question then is, what is it that can be employed by us to prevent bad things from happening to us, provided that they fall into the realm of the possible?
Miracles are nothing but unexplained phenomena. The first time Alexander Graham Bell spoke over the phone it was not seen as a miracle because it could be explained. Does that mean that in the realm of the spirit much scientific work needs to be done? It would appear so. How does a saint survive for a hundred days without food? How does a mother not feel sleepy when she is keeping vigil in the hospital room of her child? How do defense personnel manage to remain crouched in foxholes for days at a stretch? How did so many Jews survive despite being subjected to severe physical and mental traumas? How does a person limit the damage done to him when another tries to control and destroy his self-esteem? What is this will power all about?
To trace it from its start, this is the whole process:
Step 1: Event, object, idea appear before subject X
Step 2: X's senses perceives it.
Step 3: X's senses transmit it to the computer brain.
Step 4: X's brain sees a match in its past records and labels it.
Step 5: The label helps the brain judge it as good, bad, etc.
Step 6: The judgment awakens feelings of joy, anger, indifference, etc.
Step 7: Joy or anger lead to desire to approach or avoid it.
Step 8: Desire becomes the will, 'I want to approach/avoid this'.
Step 9: The will approaches the brain to assist the will in execution.
Step 10: The brain complies and instructs the body to act accordingly.
Step 11: The body obeys and acts in accordance with the instructions.
From Steps 1-4 the individual has no real control, events, people ideas etc occur without our consent, we are forced to perceive them since they are in our path, and we identify them and label them. In the case of the cancer patient, it is at Step 5 that the major difference occurs. For example the same glass of water is seen as half empty by the pessimist and half full by one who thinks positively, the same computer causes fear in an old man and joyous excitement in a young boy. It is at the judgment level that the major shift takes place, they both see the same thing and label it 'good' or 'bad'. For the old man it is 'computer ergo unknown ergo fear while for the young lad it is 'computer ergo adventure ergo happiness'. They both are responding differently to the same stimulus.
While we respond automatically to discomfort with an 'avoid' command and we respond to comfort with an 'approach' command, the fact remains that in order for us to grow in life we have to suffer some discomfort. No pain, no gain! A child would never learn to walk if he avoided bruising his knees and yet he keeps at it until he masters the art of standing up without falling down. 'I don't know how to walk' might be he label; the conclusion, on the other hand is, 'I will learn even if it means falling down repeatedly. I won't allow the fear of the unknown to stunt me'.
'Similarly, 'cancer' is the label, in most cases the response might be 'surrender, give up!' However the winning mind responds in a different manner, 'Fight! I'll beat this and fight my damnedest to fight this disease!' The fight response leads to a strengthening of one's courage. Step 5 has been tackled differently and every subsequent step after this changes because of Step 5. It is the judgment that we make when something happens to us that determines how life will be for us, and not the event itself, in most cases. 'Interview' might lead us to dread and fear and an 'avoid' response. A stomach-ache might be the body's obedient action to support the 'avoid' command. The inner dialogue might have been, 'I failed in the last interview and I will fail again so I shouldn't go in the first place'. On the other hand, another person might say, 'I'm going to succeed this time, after all, I can't always lose!'
Here are lines worth remembering:
Life's challenges can be met if we remember the following lines:
The winner is always part of the answer.
The loser is always part of the problem.
The winner always has a plan,
The loser always has an excuse.
The winner sees an answer for every problem,
The loser sees a problem for every answer.
Winning is a conscious decision not to allow past experiences to paralyze one. It is the courage to say, 'so what?' and get on with trying again. And again.