Chapter 9: Choosing One’s Attitude
You Have Chosen to Remember: A Journey of Self-Awareness, Peace of Mind and Joy by James Blanchard Cisneros.
Everything that we see and experience is seen and experienced through our physical senses. The emotions and feelings we hold in regard to these forms and experiences make up our perceptions.
Let’s take the example of snow. Snow is a phenomenon of nature and because it is a natural phenomenon, it is of God. The way you perceive such a phenomenon, the purpose and function you give it, and the attitude you take toward it is up to you, your free will in action. The following is a true story of how one man I encountered changed his world by simply changing his perceptions and attitude – toward a snowflake.
A heavy snowstorm fell throughout the day. As most of you know, when it snows, it takes more time to get to work. You become more concerned about possible car accidents, your ears, nose and feet freeze, the wind can reach into your bones and even walking becomes a hazard. On this particular day, I participated in “A Course in Miracles” study group and I could feel that the snowstorm had taken a toll on the energy of the group. It had taken a toll on all except for one of the students.
I wondered how he could be so upbeat after such a day, especially since this man had a job that kept him on the road. He shared with the group that on the way to the post office, he went into a coffee shop to get out of the storm and cold for a while. While sitting in the coffee shop he looked around and saw that most of the people there seemed miserable with red noses, sniffling, coughing, bundled up in layers of clothes. He too was feeling quite miserable. He too was sniffling, tired and cold. Then he remembered that in the Course, it stated that you are in control of your perceptions. Right then and there, he decided to do something about his attitude.
In an instant, he decided that on the way to the post office, each and every snowflake that hit his face would bring him joy; that those snow flakes would no longer cause him grief, that they would no longer make him curse the weather, or in any way negatively affect his state of mind. So after finishing his coffee, off he went walking to the post office.
As the first snowflakes hit his face, interestingly enough he also experienced his first smirk of the day. And as the snowflakes increased in volume, so too did his smirk, which turned into a smile. Soon joy became an actual thought in his mind. He began to sing “snow flakes are falling on my head” as he walked by so many other souls who had chosen, in their own way, to see the day and their walk as a hassle, inconvenience and a hazard. At first, he sang the song in his mind, then just loud enough for himself to hear it. As the snowflakes increased, so too did his volume. There he was, singing joyfully as other pedestrians probably wondered what this poor schizophrenic person was doing out in this kind of weather. The snowflakes kept falling on his face and now that his rendition of the song was a number one single in the charts of his mind, he could sing it loud, proud and with joy.
This action made adult pedestrians cautious and made children smile and laugh. Seeing that children, in their own way, were “getting it” made him more joyous and soon he began to be thankful to God for the snowstorm, for the cold, for the icy streets and for the children. The more he thanked God for the moment, the more perfect the moment became and the more joy he got from being in it. With an increased joy for the moment, there came an increase in his energy and stamina. To say that by the time he reached the door of the post office he was the happiest person ever to walk into a United States Post Office might not actually be stretching the truth.
What had begun as a hassle, inconvenience and hazard had become an energy booster, a spiritual high and a gift. Nothing in the physical environment had changed, only the way he had now chosen to perceive it. Only his perception and attitude changed. By changing his mind, he changed the world around him from one that was a hassle to one that made him happy, from one that was a hazard to one that made children laugh, and from one that was an inconvenience to one that became a gift simply because he chose to see a snowflake differently.
As he retold the story, tears came from his eyes, but they were not from sadness or fear. They were from recognizing that every moment, if looked upon from a place of love, is miraculous. And tears filled our eyes and joy filled our hearts, because as we listened, we too remembered this possibility.
I spent about two years going to those classes once a week. It was a beautiful experience and I learned and remembered a lot by interacting, listening and discussing our different perceptions. But never throughout all those years did one story or spiritual thought touch or stay with me as much as the story of the snowflake that changed a life.
In his book, “Something’s Going on Here,” Bob Benson offers another example of how an individual can completely change his thoughts and attitude about an event in his life by simply reinterpreting the event in his mind. Bob writes:
30 “W.T., how did you like your heart attack?”
“It scared me to death, almost.”
“Would you like to do it again?”
“Would you recommend it?”
“Does your life mean more to you than it did before?”
“You and Nell have always had a beautiful marriage, but now are you closer than ever?”
“How about that new granddaughter?”
“Yes. Did I show you her picture?”
“Do you have a new compassion for people – a deep understanding and sympathy?”
“Do you know the Lord in a richer, deeper fellowship than you had ever realized could be possible?”
“How did you like your heart attack?”
Silence was his answer.
30. Bob Benson, Something’s Going On Here, Copyright 1977 (Impact Books).
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