This piece is a follow-up to my last post about negative thinking. The reason I know a little about the subject is not from anything I read in a book, but from experience.
Believe it or not but I was once a very negative person. I believed in Murphy's Law, “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” Along with that other little philosophical gem, “Shit Happens.”
I will give you an example; sometime in 1986 I was painting a custom frame. I was spraying a candy-apple red over a white base. The nature of this paint is that it is semi transparent, and you see the base color through the top color. Like looking at the apple through the candy coating; hence the name.
It is absolutely essential to spray the paint on evenly or the result will be light and dark patches because of the varying thicknesses of paint. I had just started spraying the red coat when I became aware of a large black fly buzzing around inside the totally enclosed paint booth.
I couldn't stop painting and catch the fly or open the door to let him out, because to do so the paint would dry on the half finished frame and there would be streaks where I started painting again because the dry paint would not flow in with the wet paint. I had no choice but to keep going. I kept telling myself, "That damn fly is going to land on the frame, I just know it."
The fly did not just land on the wet paint so maybe I could have carefully lifted him off leaving only six tiny footprints. No, he flew right in front of the paint gun, into the stream of paint, and ended up "splat" in the middle of the top tube.
With any other type of paint the fly could have been picked off, and after the paint had been oven cured it could have been sanded smooth and touched up. With candy-apple paint the whole frame had to be stripped of paint, down to the bare metal, re-sandblasted, and repainted from scratch. This involved many hours of work.
At that time my ex-wife and I were going to marriage counseling, and that same evening I was talking to the female councilor, telling the same story I have just outlined here. She listened, and when I was though venting, she said, “Can't you see you created that to happen by your negative thinking?"
She pointed out a framed quotation she had hanging on the wall of her office. It was from Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, it read, "Nothing is good or bad, that thinking made it so."
It was an epiphany, a light bulb went on in my head, I thought about the huge space the fly had in the paint booth and what were the chances of it flying between the paint gun and the frame within seconds of my negative thought. In addition, a top tube is only one inch wide, the fly could have easily gone over or under and not landed smack in the middle.
In the days that followed I went back to work a changed man. I recognized my negative thoughts and replaced them with good positive thoughts. About a week later the power of positive thinking was demonstrated to me in a very dramatic fashion.
I had to go to the bank to deposit some checks and get back to my shop as quickly as possible as I was expecting a visitor. It was 4 pm. in the afternoon in a town in Southern California, the traffic was horrendous.
I came out of the bank and as I walked to my car I was thinking, "I'll never make it out of here." I had to cross four lanes of traffic to make a left turn, with no traffic light. Then I told myself, "Don't think that way, there will be a gap in traffic."
I pulled out of the parking lot and on to a four lane highway there was not a car in sight in either direction. I made a joke about it, I leaned forward in my seat and looked up at the sky and said, "Thank you God, I just needed a space to get out, you didn't have to clear the whole fucking town."
As I drove towards my shop, cars came towards me and from behind and I was back in normal rush hour traffic. Those who have read my novel, Prodigal Child, will recognize this story. The story is true, although in the book, a work of fiction, the location is changed.
That single event had a profound affect on me. I have never had the power of positive thinking demonstrated to me in such a dramatic fashion since. However, I can assure you positive thinking continues to provide parking spaces and gaps in traffic when I need them.
I still ride my bike defensively and always stay alert on the roads; there are also certain roads that I will only use at weekends when traffic is lighter. I think positive but I don't act stupid.
I can tell by some of the comments that some do not fully understand this concept. It is not “Blame the Victim.” A person holding a fear of being robbed, is clearly not to blame if they are then robbed. However, a positive thought may have prevented this outcome.
It is not religion, it is the way the Universe works; it is Metaphysics. Having said this, even the medical profession accepts that prayer can help a sick person heal. What is a prayer? It is a positive thought; a statement of an outcome made with the quiet knowing that it will be so.
This is where the faith comes in. It is not the blind faith of religion, but confidence in the outcome of the positive thought. Without that, the positive thought will not work, but then again, without the faith in the outcome, it is no longer a positive thought.
Not only must we be aware of our own positive and negative thoughts, but those of others around us. Show me a person experiencing a string of misfortune, like illness, accident, car trouble, a victim of crime, etc., and I can practically guarantee that person has some other crap going on in their life.
For example, a divorce or break up of a relationship, trouble at work with a co-worker, conflict with a family member; anywhere there is conflict and a lot of negativity flying around. The good news is if you are aware of this, your own positive thoughts will cancel out the negative ones of others.
I care about cyclists, and it bothers me when I read about people taking abuse on the roads. Especially when I know that a change in attitude will make a huge difference in rectifying the problem. It will not happen overnight, like any learning process, it takes time and effort.
For close to fifty years, my philosophy in life was this: "Life is a bitch, and then you die." I lived a life of pain, suffering, misfortune, failed relationships, etc. etc. I got what I expected from life, and as Shakespeare said, "Thinking made it so."
The course of my life was changed for the better by a chance comment by a female marriage councilor, whose name I don't even remember. I pass on my experiences that it may cause others to think on their thought process. That is all; I am not trying to convert anyone to anything.
Doug commented on my last post with a story about a dog who chased a group of cyclists, the dog bit the one woman who held negative thoughts about dogs. This story is similar to my story about the fly in the paint booth, the fly and the dog both did exactly what we thought they would.
If a cyclist has negative thoughts about other road users, there a plenty of drivers out there who hate cyclists; the two are going to be drawn to each other. Call it Karma, call it Bike-ma if you wish, but it is the way this Universe works.
Reverse the polarity; change your thinking from negative to positive and you will no longer draw the bad stuff towards you. You will not eliminate the assholes; you will just not attract them to you. Not only will you be helping yourself, but helping the cause of all cyclists.
Cyclists are constantly calling for change. Mahatma Gandhi said, "Before you can change the world, change your own thinking."