It’s fall, and I’m doing one final rake to get the straggler leaves off of my lawn. I noticed a tendency of leaves to settle in gaps where there is no grass. Leaves on lawns make a less favorable situation for the growth of grass, and leaves gravitate to where there is already no grass… unfortunate for the grass trying to grow in the gaps.
Have you ever been certain that your life isn’t working because negative circumstances keep showing up? As with leaves on lawns, there is a tendency for the reverse to be the case. Negative circumstances show up when we are certain our life does not work. Just like the gaps in the lawn in to which leaves settle, negative thoughts make a dip into which negative circumstances settle. To mix my metaphors, habitual negativity is a petri dish for negative circumstances.
I’m not an absolutist. I won’t tell you that all of your life circumstances are the result of your thoughts. But some are. So how to know which?
I am an empiricist. I don’t take seemingly esoteric notions at face value, but neither do I claim I know for certain that esoteric notions must be false. So I test things out. I have been personally testing this for over twenty years and have been surprised to find it is more often true than not.
How to test it for yourself? Try out the opposite thought patterns. Notice habitual negativity and replace it with optimism. This can be a tall order for some; negativity can be addictive; pulling out the needle can be tough. Said another way, habit reinforces neural pathways. Forging new pathways requires concerted effort. When trying out optimism, it will feel unnatural. You won’t believe it, it will feel like a lie, a betrayal. After all, all the evidence around you is telling you that optimism is not warranted. That’s ok. Fake it. If favorable changes happen, try some more. Look for a pattern of improvement.
If you take on new habits and circumstances change, there is a chance they are related. Empirically speaking, one thing is certain— it is impossible to know which is the case without trying both. Unfounded certainty can be dangerous. If you are certain your circumstances are not the result of your thoughts, then you wouldn’t mind putting your certainty to the test. If you are unwilling to put your certainty to the test, you may be ensuring a future covered in leaves.