Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Except When It Doesn't

“What we really want to do is what we are really meant to do. When we do what we are meant to do, money comes to us, doors open for us, we feel useful, and the work we do feels like play to us.” -Julia Cameron

Except when it doesn't work out that way.

You can do what you love and end up in deep debt with insufficient income. Doors may open or close. And you may have to do other kinds of work to eat and pay bills.

For every J.K. Rowling - and bless her, really, for never giving up and writing every day no matter what was going on in her life - there are plenty of talented and hardworking writers who don't make it.

There are people in this town who remember Tom Cruise when he was a young fellow driving a beat up car, wearing a thrift store blazer and a big smile, showing up at casting agencies with his resume and pic. Most of us would say that hard work, perseverance, and his talent paid off for him. And it's true. He kept a positive attitude, worked really hard, and made it.

The Positive Thinking fallacy is this: It promises that your attitude determines your results. There is an important step or two missing from that summation. Mainly, the part where all the hard work happens. Attitude certainly does influence the quality of your effort. If I keep a bad attitude, I will be inclined to give up more quickly or fail to consider all the possibilities of a given situation; my view becomes unclear, and I misjudge. With a bright attitude, I see possibilities everywhere, feel energized, and work harder, longer, smarter. The latter certainly enhances the possibility of success. Yet nothing is guaranteed. The results are not determined by your attitude. You can control your effort and make success more likely. That is the extent of our control.

The world we experience is a world experienced through our mind, and so changing our mind changes the world. Yet the teaching of our Zen sutras points at something very important: when mind is extinguished and the world is extinguished, that's when you begin living.

That said, everything does work itself out. Everything, just like it is, is the truth. Nothing is wrong with the universe.

Still, I didn't sleep much last night because I was worrying and feeling frustrated about worrying. Instead of criticizing my feelings or trying to change them, I just watched them as a child might count sheep, watching the circular process of worrying. Things are always in the process of working themselves out. Events happen, and the events don't care whether you see them as chance or as God doing His work. Hurricanes really don't care what you think, and neither do rainbows.

Then it hit me. I don't need to worry about money. All I need to do is write a book about how to think yourself rich. People love to hear that message. People love to hear that you can choose your reality and change matter with your mind. The book will sell millions of copies and Q.E.D. I will be an authority on how to be a self-made millionare. Then I can give talks and workshops and write still more books about how you can become rich and happy.

So I will close today's entry and start working on my book. Hmm, working title: BUY MY BOOK AND YOU'LL BE RICHER!

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