There are so many secrets in our world. Secrets about health, sex, love, politics, even Victoria’s Secret. So what is the secret to all these secrets?
Two years before Ethan got sick, I started reading this book called The Secret. Yes, I can see you rolling your eyes eyes. Stop it. For those few of you who never heard of The Secret, it’s a worldwide best selling book touting the benefits of positive and affirmative thinking, and sending good energy out into the world. The book advises you to make a “dream board” – a board contains pictures of all the things you desire (or as the book says, the things you “aspire” to have).
Not long after my mom passed away, I read this book. I was on a unique path at the time and felt the need to search for a different kind of spiritual guidance, a kind of guidance that relied on me to do the hard work, not any higher power. To be clear, I am not putting down organized religions or God in any way. I come from a family of Catholic Italians, and that will always be in my blood. But I considered myself more spiritual in a general sense and I was looking for new ways to better myself directly through my own actions, my own power. And thus The Secret found its way into my hands and into my head.
I made my dream board, cut out pictures, kept a journal, woke up every day saying, “I am so excited about what this new day will bring.” Even if the idea of sending out positive energy to get back positive things was hard to believe, I felt it kept me in a positive frame of mind. It kept me in the moment, in a good moment, a moment that I had helped to create and influence. Hey, if something is making you feel good and it’s not hurting anyone else, does it really matter if others believe?
I kept this board up over the years and changed things as they came true. Yes, things came true.
For example, I had a picture of Columbia University on my dream board and this was before I had even gotten my undergrad degree and filled out any grad school applications. (For those who don’t know, I am studying psychology at Columbia.)
Some refer to this stuff as luck. I call it hard work. After all, I was the one waking up everyday looking at the board and not just wishing for these things but also imagining myself enjoying them. I put in all the hours.
Last winter, I discarded the dream board because every single thing on the board came true. Actually, I didn’t throw it out because I wanted proof in case my faith ever wavered. Then lo and behold a few months later my faith was tested with Ethan’s diagnosis. How could this happen? I was so angry. But even as I felt my faith in the power of such positive and aspirational thinking waiver, I knew I couldn’t give up it. In a very real sense, the most real sense of my life, I had to keep doing it -and believe in it more than ever – for myself and Ethan.
A friend of mine who does acupuncture recently suggested I read the book Jerry and Esther Hicks’ book Ask and it is Given. This book was described to me as a more intense version of the teachings of The Secret, a more involved life-changing process for people seriously dedicated to this type of thinking. I have finally finished the book and I am amazed by how helpful it has been.
At the time I began reading it, I was so sad, depressed, and angry with things that were going on with Ethan. It was hard to retrain my mind to rid myself of these negative thoughts. Thinking positive all the time can be harder than we know. Try it for a whole day. Make a mental note every time a negative thought enters your mind; every time you curse at someone driving; every time you think about how annoying work is, dread making dinner, etc. Then when these thoughts pop up push them out and replace them with some positive.
In case you aren’t getting the point, it’s helped me immensely. What I have especially liked about this book is there is 22 different processes you can use to help change their way of thinking based on your current state of emotion. They give you a scale of emotions to gauge where you are and then based on that you find the right process. If you are happy, you use the process based on that emotion, and so on.
I really enjoy the one process Jerry and Esther describe as a virtual reality game. You picture yourself in the world you desire. Close your eyes, picture yourself in that ideal world, smell the smells, feel the temperature in the room, feel the emotions in your heart. This can take anywhere from one minute to 30 minutes depending on how much time you have or want to spend.
I do it on the subway, waiting in line, before I go to bed, anytime I have a chance. There is always time to do something for you.
I wanted to share these thoughts with you because no matter what you believe or what your situation is, you can always picture something more joyful or fun. You can always brighten or improve your virtual reality. It takes so little time and the benefits are overwhelming. Please, if you’re coping with something right now, or even if you aren’t, take a few moments today and go play in your virtual reality!