Negative thoughts destroy our mental health just like bad habits destroy our physical health. Maybe you’re a smoker who has been told over and over that smoking will kill you. And part of you even acknowledges this is true. But there’s this other part that continues to light up, inhale and blow smoke into the sky. The part that whispers, “Nah. It won’t happen to me.”
Negative thinking is the same sort of animal.
You know negative thinking makes you feel angry, hopeless and depressed but you tell yourself, well that’s life. Maybe you’re even suspicious of people who think positive all the time. You suspect there is a whole of suppression going on. You suspect they probably go home after a day of acting all Zen and kick the cat.
Besides, life is full of negative things. You’ll never change that. Better to accept it then to be all Pollyanna with the rose colored glasses, right? People should just grow up already. Be a realist. I mean, isn’t being positive all the time simply naïve?
No. No it’s not.
Say you’re a gardener. You draw up a plan, sow your seeds and then a couple weeks later you return and discover your garden is smothered with weeds. You could say, “Well, there you go. Weeds are a fact of life and no matter what I do about it, they will just keep coming back so I won’t do anything about them at all. I’ll just let them take over the garden. To try and do something about the weeds is just spiritual quackery.”
You could do that. But that’s not what successful gardeners do. They know if they are going to reap a harvest they have to keep on top of the weeds. The weeds compete with the vegetables for nutrients and moisture and are much more tenacious than the vegetables they are competing with. Left alone, the weeds will win every time.
So every day the gardener goes up and down the rows, hoeing some weeds up here, pulling a few there and nurturing the vegetables along. You don’t need to weed the entire planet. You just need to weed your own plot. And if you will do that, at the end of season you will have a bountiful harvest. Others will not only enjoy the fruits of your labor, they will be inspired to keep their garden free of weeds as well.
And so it is with our thoughts.
Keep on top of them if you want to harvest inner peace. You need to be alert. When a negative thought sprouts up in your mind, yank that sucker out like a noxious weed and bury it in the compost heap. And then quickly transplant a positive thought in its place.
And that’s how I intend to grow the Zen garden of my mind; one square foot at a time.