This is a story about the power of our thoughts. Some years ago I was playing a game of doubles in racquetball, meaning there are two players on each side. The object of the game is to keep the ball in play, trying to force the opposing team to make an error. Unfortunately, my partner was making most of the errors that evening. Although outwardly I tried to sound encouraging, inwardly I was thinking, “Can’t he hit anything back?” As the game progressed, he got worse and worse, and my thoughts followed right along behind.
Then I remembered that our teachings tell us that our thoughts have the power to affect an outcome, and decided to test this out. I began to hold a positive mental image of him and inwardly compliment him with thoughts like, “He is really trying hard.” When he did anything well, I mentally congratulated him.
Soon we began to win point after point. I don’t remember whether or not we won that night, but I gained a huge inner victory. More important than outward results was the fact that, with a positive mindset, I began to enjoy the game. I learned from that experience that my negative thoughts not only hurt the outcome, but also hurt my partner, and made me unhappy as well.
This lesson is directly applicable in situations we face every day. If you want someone — a spouse, a child, a boss or coworker — to behave differently or perform better, then it is up to you to create a positive space for them to step into. If you can’t, and remain inwardly critical, then you are part of the problem.
Here is a simple law: Positive thoughts produce positive results. Negative thoughts produce negative results.
There is a difference between discrimination and judgment. Discrimination sees something for what it is, while judgment includes an emotional component. It arises when something doesn’t align with our desires. We might see that something is wrong, but if we go on to react judgmentally to it, then we have crossed over into quite another mindset. It usually means that we ourselves have that same issue, and are projecting expectations and self-criticism onto someone else.
In the Autobiography of a Yogi, Paramhansa Yogananda talks about an incident with his guru, Sri Yukteswar. Yogananda had left the ashram to go to the Himalayas and then returned some time later:
“’I am here, Guruji.’ My shamefacedness spoke more eloquently for me.
“‘Let us go to the kitchen and find something to eat.’ Sri Yukteswar’s manner was as natural as if hours and not days had separated us.
“’Master, I must have disappointed you by my abrupt departure from my duties here; I thought you might be angry with me.’
“’No, of course not! Wrath springs only from thwarted desires. I do not expect anything from others, so their actions cannot be in opposition to wishes of mine. I would not use you for my own ends; I am happy only in your own true happiness.’”
A gentle reminder to our regular readers: Remember to practice the Touch of Light and Joy at least five times each day.