A Pastor drives through the country on his way to visit a church member. He sees a large field, rich with green healthy corn stalks, rows and rows of vegetables, near ripe and bright with color.
The field seems to stretch for miles, with an abundant and vibrant crop. As he approached the end of the great field, he spotted the farmer repairing a fence. The Pastor slowed his car and pulled up next to the farmer who paused from his labor. “The Lord has blessed you with a wonderful and fertile plot of land”, said the Pastor.
The farmer raised his sweat beading head, turned and cast his gaze behind him, without a word. “Yes, He did “, said the farmer, wiping his forehead on his raised sleeve as he turned back. His blue eyes fixed back on the pastor as he spoke with deliberate clarity,
“But you ought to have seen it when only God owned it”.
This is a rendition of a story based on a radio program with Earl Nightingale. The topic of the focus centered upon rewards returned from an investment of service. He shared that too many in our world expect rewards without providing a valued service to others. This type of mindset has been massaged deeply into our society. When this process blossoms, it is manifested in those who spend their life seeking treasures, blessings, and recognition without knowing about responsibility and the healthy pride of mastery. One does not have to look far to find such people. They exist in two common camps; Takers and Wanders.
Takers have an issue with those that possess riches, treasures of due effort; even though justly earned. Takers believe the world is unjust and success depends on the lucky. Takers believe they are justified in taking what they wish, and treasures are acquired by those that are skilled in taking. They are often personable, and engaging. They often assume roles where recognition is placed on what they gain for themselves or others they represent. In time, they are often discovered as Con Artist or scam artist. The more polished they become and the more skilled they become in their trade, the harder it is to unveil their schemes. Takers leave devastation in their wake. Often, you will find they are involved in a number of social circles. Yet, each separate circle members rarely share a connection between groups due to the risk of being found out. In order to maintain separate identities, it is necessary to limit friendships that share common circles. This keeps their influence broad while minimizing the risks of being discovered.
The other camp belongs to those that are Wanderers. These are those that seek “happiness” as if it is a state of life to acquire. They are on a quest to find contentment and feel the burden of discontent in their daily ventures. They attend a variety of events, change jobs, move from place to place; never feeling complete and at peace. As time unfolds, they leave a trail of brokenness in their wake. They are usually good people, having the intent of sincerity and honest lives. But feel their choices to invest in others and activities are unfulfilling. Worst yet, they see the hurts their lack of commitment causes in the lives of others, but it lacks impact on their own course. They never really learn about trust and the value of need in others. Instead, they seek avenues of life which are safe, independent, esteemed as strength, less attached, more mechanical and aloof. Though possessing an active life, often recognized through great achievements, they appear controlled and calculated in all they do. Yet, behind this cold curtain of control is a fear which torments and threatens loneliness of isolation which visits them in every quiet moment.
Can “Takers” and Wanderers” find the happiness and contentment they desperately seek?
Yes. But it requires a tactic which is foreign and vastly different than what they have ever known before. You see, throughout life’s journey, they have clutched firmly to a mental map which leads them astray. But they tend to believe their particular map has been the reason for their success. It did, in fact, serve a valuable place in their life. It brought them some recognition and their map did help them to make sense of their world in a time when they sought stability and certainty, especially at a time when all seemed to be falling apart around them. Often this was viewed as a tragic time, likely due to the choices of a primary caretaker in their life. It may be a partner, the parent or a different type of security, which failed, was lost or became dismantled at a crucial time. In order to steer through the threatening storms in those dark moments, survival required them to unhook themselves from was what was firmly trusted, and reattach their security to what was most available and secure; their own control. Often, in order to manage the storm, they may even absorb guilt for the loss (imagine as something they did to interrupt love) or maybe even construct elaborate logical frameworks to tease out a variable that can be identified as a reason for this trauma( he left because of a good reason). In identifying a variable that clues the disaster, they can believe the myth that the risk of another trauma can be averted. Unfortunately, such a belief will not only oppose their happiness but left unchecked, will assure a destination of only repeated sorrow and pain. Sorrow is the only destination when safety is the goal. After all, it is very safe when you are alone on an island.
It is only through challenging the mental map, can we correct our voyage for the contentment we seek. A principle which is at the heart of mental health is found at the seat of our own mind. It is about control, but a realistic and truth based control. We have to come to the point of knowing what is within our control and what is not. We can never know the mind of another person. We can only observe their choices in decisions they make. As we are individuals, we have our own mindset; we make our own choices, good and bad. When outcomes are not what we desired, we have the ability to make changes for different outcomes.
The quality of our life is determined by our mindset. A great motivational speaker, Jim Rohn, once said, “The voyage of our lives is not dependent upon the waters or the wind but by the set of our sails”
In Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, there was a debate with Brutus about Cesar, held to be God-like and powerful, who ruled with divine authority, as if elected by the stars of heaven. “..the fault dear Brutus is not in our stars but in ourselves, that we are underlings”.
In his book, “As a man thinkers”, Author Vic Johnson states:
We can control our thoughts. We possess our own thoughts. When people meet a challenge we are faced with decisions. Our decisions lead to outcomes. If the outcomes are not what we had expected, we then have the capacity to make a different choice. But this is only about our own choices, not someone else’s choices. If we wish to make truth based choices, we will need a way to assure they are actually true. The great thing about truth is, when it is applied, it will assure the outcome will always be true. If true happiness is the goal, we need to employ truth based thoughts. In order to help people think more truth based, I have a tool which I will share that can be very useful.
But before I provide a tool to evaluate thoughts, it is important to set a correct perspective about happiness. Just as John Lennon once shared, “Life is what you do when you are planning life”, happiness is also similar. Happiness is not an end in itself. It is the process which accompanies right and truth based thinking. Chasing happiness is like chasing your shadow. It will always appear within reach but never obtained. When we are at peace with who we are and we are confident about our integrity and investment into the lives of others, happiness will present itself and cloak us with warmth in the coldest and darkest moments.
Now, to end this writing, I share once again the life-giving tool which brings great peace to my life. It is not a new paradigm but was already provided by the writings in God’s Word. Here I will list them briefly in a simple format. Feel free to read more on this on my blog in the section labeled, “What lies beneath”.
The following lines reveal lies that our thoughts brew up. Identify the lies, challenge them and replace them with truth statements. This will lead to the truth we seek true happiness.
- Maximizing others, minimizing ourselves
- Overgeneralizing from one situation to another
- Personalizing content as if it is about us.
- Jumping to conclusions; it is just going to happen again
- Ignoring the evidence; it seems good but it is not
- All or Nothing thinking; it is all good or bad
May your Joys be full in the coming New Year Dear Friends.