Dr Dale Peterson, What do you think,Norman Cousins, thought patterns, beliefs

What Do You Think?

What Do You Think?

© 2000 Dr. Dale Peterson; © 2006 Wellness Clubs of America.com

“What do you think?” You’ve probably been asked this question hundreds of times and in many varied situations. It’s a fairly common question in our society. You’ve probably asked the same question of others. On the other hand, I suspect that you’ve never been asked, “What do you think?” This is a very uncommon question today.

“Wait a minute!,” you are probably saying, “You made a mistake. You wrote the same question twice. What did you really mean to write?”

I meant to write just what you read. What I didn’t give you were the accents. The first question, the one that is commonplace is, “What do you think?” The more important, but rarely asked question is, “What do you think?”

What we think determines to a very great extent how we live. Although this idea has been promulgated by a number of modern philosophers and motivational speakers it is not a new, revolutionary concept. Solomon wrote of this phenomenon approximately 3,000 years ago. “All the days of the afflicted are evil,” he commented, “but he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast.” In another of his proverbs he stated, “A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones, “ and in yet another he observed that, despite outward appearances to the contrary, “as he thinks in his heart, so is he.”

Solomon, proclaimed the wisest man to ever live, was an astute observer of human character and behavior. One of his chief observations was that it is our way of thinking and not our environment that most determines whether we live in anguish or in paradise. Listen again to the first proverb I quoted. “All the days of the afflicted are evil, but he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast.” I believe he is saying that what we think about the things that happen to us from moment to moment determines whether we have a good day or a bad day.

A person who is “afflicted” is someone who thinks, “Woe is me. The world is against me. Murphy was an optimist!” No matter what happens to such an individual he or she will have a bad day. Guaranteed. If the sun is shining he or she will think, “Not again! My garden is going to dry up and I won’t get any tomatoes this year!” If rain clouds are on the horizon he or she will think, “Oh no! I just washed the car, and now it will be dirty again!” When greeted with an hearty, “Good Morning!” he or she will reply, “What’s good about it?!” When such a person arrives home in the evening it is never necessary to ask, “How was your day?” The answer is always the same. Rotten!

C. S. Lewis depicted the result of an afflicted attitude in his book, “The Last Battle.” In one of the final scenes a group of dwarves are invited to take part in a magnificent feast. Rather than rejoicing and taking part in the meal they are indignant and refuse, for the delicious food appears to them to be nothing more than manure from a stable.

He who is of a merry heart, on the other hand, will have a good day no matter what happens. He or she has the “Charlie Brown” philosophy. When asked the secret to happiness Charlie Brown once said, “The secret to happiness is to have a convertible and a lake. That way if it’s raining you can think, ‘Fantastic, my lake is filling up,’ and if the sun is shinning you can think, ‘Great! I can ride with the top down!’” Such an individual will greet others with a smile and often get a smile in return. When asked how the day went he or she will reply, “Terrific!”

Solomon’s words are more that witty sayings. They often contain sound principles of health and illness that are only now being appreciated by the medical community. Hearty laughter lowers levels of stress hormones and helps release natural pain relievers known as endorphins. Author Norman Cousins recounted his experiences in reversing an “irreversible” condition with positive thoughts and laughter in his book, “Anatomy of an Illness.” His response amazed the physicians and nurses who were supervising his care. We should all take to heart and apply what Solomon observed, “A merry heart does good, like medicine.”

The corollary that a broken spirit dries up the bones is equally valid from a modern medical perspective. Unresolved anger, bitterness, envy and similar emotions cause the body to become more acidic. The body responds by pulling calcium from the bones to neutralize the excess acid. As a result the bones become weak and brittle. They literally dry up.

What do you think? Your answer to this question will determine the quality of your life to a greater extent than any circumstance you will ever face. Understanding this should be extremely encouraging. If you are an “afflicted” person you can change your quality of life simply by changing your habitual thought pattern. You become what you think about. Earl Nightingale called this the strangest secret. He did so not because it is strange. It is very reasonable. Nor is it really a secret. It has been known for millennia. No, he called it the strangest secret because so few people ever grasp the reality that they can let their thoughts control their circumstances rather than allowing their circumstances to control their thoughts.

Receive the latest Wellness Updates and News. Subscribe now at WellnessClubsofAmerica.com