“What we see depends mainly on what we look for.” John Lubbock (30.4.1834 – 28.05.1913)
Sir John Lubbock was a banker, Liberal politician, philanthropist, scientist and polymath. He was also nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Truly a multi-talented man.
Recently I was chatting to a friend who related how she always sees the positive in a situation and in contrast her husband always sees the negative. The other day, they woke up to find the heaven’s had opened. There was a real downpour.
Husband: It’s raining, what a miserable day.
Wife: That’s wonderful for the garden!!
You’ve guessed right, her positive attitude does irritate him.
Our attitude affects our mood and our behavior, so whenever you’re feeling negative, try to look at the situation from another perspective. Negativity is just a bad habit that can be broken.
“If you board the wrong train, it is no use running along the corridor in the other direction.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (4 February 1906 – 9 April 1945) was a German Lutheran pastor, a theologian, a spiritual writer, a musician, an author of poetry and fiction. He was also a martyr dying for what his beliefs. His writings on Christianity’s role in the secular world, have become widely influential, notably his book ‘The Cost of Discipleship’ which is regarded by many as a modern classic.
Bonhoeffer also became known for his determined resistance to the Nazi dictatorship during World War II. He was a strong opponent to Hitler’s euthanasia program and genocidal persecution of the Jews. He didn’t just speak words of protest but was involved in plans by the German Military Intelligence Office to assassinate Adolf Hitler. Arrested in April 1943 by the Gestapo, he was executed by hanging in April 1945, only twenty-three days before the German surrender.
His beliefs and convictions ultimately cost him his life in a Nazi concentration camp. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was one of the most famous theologians and martyrs of the 20th century.
“You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down.” Ray Bradbury
Ray Bradbury was a great horror writer who was utterly without fear. He never went to college and did all his learning through reading everything including Shakespeare. Such was his confidence that he really didn’t care less if all the literary giants accepted him or not, but they did. He never even learned to drive. Best known for his science fiction, he wrote in very genre from fantasy to poetry and he wrote beautifully enough for adults and clearly enough for kids.
His advice to writers was: “You’ve got to jump off cliffs all the time and build your wings on the way down”. But isn’t this good advice for everyone? Don’t let fear hold you back from living life to the full – that’s the way you will grow wings and fly!
Ray Bradbury died at the age of 91 on the 5 June 2012.
‘Character isn’t inherited. One builds it daily by the way one thinks and acts, thought by thought, action by action. If one lets fear or hate or anger take possession of the mind, they become self-forged chains.‘ Helen Gahagan Douglas
Helen Gahagan Douglas (1900-1980) began her professional career on the Broadway stage and was regarded as a “star” at the age twenty-two. By the 1930s, she moved to California with her husband, Hollywood actor Melvyn Douglas. There she soon found herself involved in politics and was elected Democratic National Committeewoman from California in 1944. For the rest of her life, she remained a tireless public speaker and activist.
Douglas gets to the core of how character is developed with this quote of hers. You can’t blame your genes for your character. Actually if you do, you become a victim and develop a victim mentality. ‘I can’t help it …. that’s the way I’m made ..’ is the cry of a victim mentality.
I love hearing about people who have succeeded despite the odds being stacked against them. Our thoughts direct our mood and our behavior. If you have a victim mentality, you will have ‘victim’ behavior. Our character is developed by choosing ‘right actions’. Fear, hate and anger keep us in the past and keep one a victim, chained to the past. The only way to move forward is through forgiveness, letting go of hurts and anger. The person who hurt us has forgotten what they did that offended us, while we hang on to the hurts and stew in the pain through not forgiving. And fears? You’ve got to face them as it’s avoidance that keeps a person anxious.
Forgive and move on, that’s the way to build good character. Carefully watch your thoughts and discard any that keep you miserable.