There is an exhibit at the Israeli Children’s Museum called “Dialogue in the Dark” where visitors are led through complete darkness by a blind or visually impaired guide. My sons and I completed this tour yesterday. And it was an incredible reminder of the power of perception.
Our guide encouraged us to ask questions. I asked him how long he had been blind for? He told me that he spent the first 30+ years of his life with full sight but had been completely blind for the past three years. I then asked him how he deals with the hardship of losing his sight. He admitted that he was in fact depressed and in a bad way for a while. That was, until he took back his control.
He realized he had a choice – be the victim or be the hero of his own story. He chose to be the hero.
On a daily basis, he commits to writing a gratitude list so that he can focus on all the positive things in life. And on his most difficult days (because he still has them) he doubles down on the gratitude. The decision to name himself the hero of his life altered the course of life.
So what can we do to attain a happy and stable life, even through profound hardship, like this gentleman? We can take ownership of our thoughts. We can hold onto beliefs and practice habits that uplift and inspire us. Because when we refuse to give away our control to negative thinking or false beliefs (that we are victims of the bad things that happen in our lives) we can author our own story. A story that serves our truest selves and ambitions.
I left that museum fired up with good intentions. I was reminded to appreciate my gift of sight and ever more committed to a practice of gratitude. But by the next morning, I had already forgotten about the gratitude I was feeling for my eyesight. The day’s responsibilities and commitments had claimed my energy and attention.
But, I too write a gratitude list. And repeat a daily mantra. My mantra is, “HaShem (God) I surrender to your will for me as I know you love me and will always steer me in the best way possible. I know you have my back!”.
After repeating my daily mantra, a calmness came over me. I experienced a stillness in which I could appreciate my gifts and, again, bring gratitude to the forefront of my thinking.
This daily ritual is a simple method to put me in a mindset of self-empowerment. And a belief that the world is working for me, not against me. Every thought and decision I make can stall or further my happiness. And the choice is mine. The choice is ours.
This week, write out a daily affirmation and gratitude list. Speak it out loud for added reinforcement. List out all the things, big and small, that provide you happiness, love, and security. Not only will you benefit from a burst of dopamine, but it will help you navigate the harder times. We can all be the hero of our own lives. And it all starts with the power of perception!
Accountability, Community, Unconditional Love.
-Asher Gottesman, CEO & Founder of Transcend Recovery Community