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Why Doing the 'Right Thing' is Wrong

It promotes a negative mindset that holds us back.

by James Leroy Wilson
October 27, 2005

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Why Doing the 'Right Thing' is Wrong

If you're not living in it already, do you have a dream house in your mind? If he or she isn't found already, do you have a dream mate? Are you getting paid for doing what you love most? Are you financially secure, and do you have the resources to go where you want and purchase what you want to own? Are you healthy and energetic? Are you living the life you want?

I confess I've never really thought about these things - vague images and ideas, yes, but no clear and detailed pictures in my mind. I believed such thoughts were sinful, selfish, materialistic, soul-destroying; I thought that if I focused on what I wanted, I would not hear the "voice" of God. But the opposite is closer to the truth, and I'm only now awakening to what I really want out of life.

One school of thought says that the mind creates physical reality. That thought is energy, and this energy acts in our space-time universe to create that which is thought. Your conscious dreams of happiness and desire - the things you want - are real. Just like the painting in the artist's mind or the house of the architect's drawing. They are just waiting for their manifestation in the world of the physical senses, in the space-time world. The more you think about something, the more your own physical actions will help bring it to reality, and the more you will perceive external forces also bringing about the thing you're thinking . Which means it is very important to think about what you want, as opposed to what you don't want.

Rick is dirt poor. Pasta is cheap, so there's a lot of it in the cupboard, but nothing else. Today he says, "I'm sick of spaghetti! I hate spaghetti! I'm craving vegetable beef soup." He is down to his last $1.50. Rick goes to the supermarket, wanting the soup but worried about how much money he has. Before he heads to the aisle with the $1.29 can of soup, he notices a sale. Packages of spaghetti for 35 cents each. Four of those can provide a dozen meals. The can of soup provides two servings at best. Rick buys more spaghetti.

Steve is in exactly the same situation. He says, "I can hardly wait to have that can of soup!" Along the way to the supermarket, he is thinking about the first taste of the steaming broth. He heads straight to the soup shelves.

Who gets exactly what he wants? Who gets exactly what he doesn't want? They both have the same dream, but only one turned the dream into reality.

We create - we make real in the physical world - what we think about. Both Rick and Steve want the soup, but only Steve thinks about getting the soup. Rick thinks about not getting it. By doubting whether the soup is the best thing to get, the mind commands Rick's subconscious self to be alert to opportunities that allow him to avoid getting it. He's looking for a good rationalization to not get what he wants. But Steve's subconscious self has been commanded to focus on getting what he wants, ignoring everything else. Steve's thoughts direct his actions so that his desires are fulfilled. He has no doubts at all what he'll have for supper. The physical manifestation of lifting the spoonful of hot soup into his mouth is the literal creation of his thought.

"But, wait," you may protest, "isn't saving money in that situation the better thing to do?" That's a reasonable opinion. But my point is that even when satisfying a desire is extremely easy - like having soup for supper - we often find ways to fail. Saving money was Rick's excuse in this instance to not get what he wants. If both Rick and Steve wanted to save money, Rick would more likely buy what he feels like having, and Steve would be focused on finding what's on sale. That's because Rick constantly doubts what he really wants. When he wants to enjoy something, he worries about money. When he wants to save money, he feels deprived and considers that maybe he should "live in the moment." He will rationalize his way out of achieving any goal, and then feel miserable. Meanwhile Steve's attention, and therefore energy, is focused on what he wants, as opposed to what he doesn't have. His mind isn't distracted by thoughts of sacrifice and deprivation. Instead, as he gets closer to his goal, he feels the high of anticipation - a very powerful drug.

Others may judge us by our actions, but our lives are really the manifestation of our thoughts. Our actions reveal the state of our thoughts as they really are, not of our wants or ideals. Negative thoughts will create a negative environment.

A husband who believes adultery is the worst thing in the world, yet who is also concerned about his own weaknesses and vulnerabilities, will fix his thoughts on avoiding temptation. Far from solving the problem, he is now far more vulnerable than if he never thought about adultery or his weaknesses at all. He will perceive more and more women as potential temptresses, regardless of their beauty of charm. He will be more likely to create an emotional bond with one, and become silently critical of his wife and the everyday sameness of his life. Then the rationalizations and doubts - the what ifs, the would it be so wrongs - will spring up. The one thing that he wants to do, his one goal of remaining faithful to his wife, has now become very hard. He knows that no good will come to giving in to temptation, but he now feels deprived of the excitement and adventure life should offer. A deprivation he would not have felt had he been thinking about his wife, and not about adultery, in the first place.

This man's problem is that he is obsessed with doing the "right thing." It seems that all of mankind's problems come from judging actions in terms of objective rules and reducing ethics to logically consistent formulas. From measuring virtue in terms of temptation, and character in terms of adversity. From defining justice in terms of poverty, liberty in terms of coercion, and life in terms of death. From contemplating the desirable in terms of the undesirable. When good is defined as the enemy of evil, our thoughts can't help but think of the evil. And because thought is energy, our thoughts actually create the evil in our midst.

We believe that defeating evil and doing the "right thing" means sacrificing more, depriving ourselves more. That we live in a world of scarcity, where we must choose between doing right and doing what we want. That martyrdom is the fate of the saints. But our intuitive wisdom rejects these abstract moral categories, which is why we doubt both our religious faith and our day-to-day decisions. Our instinct rejects the concept of trade-offs, that we must give up something we love in order to get something we love even more.

That's why we rationalize. In any situation, the "wrong thing" always has a strong argument. If the "right thing" is a sacrifice, a duty or obligation that other people have imposed on the conscience for some theoretical future good or a reward in the afterlife, no wonder that the immediate and tangible benefits of the "wrong thing" often wins. But then guilt sets in, and the endless cycle of negative thoughts generating a negative environment continues.

When our thoughts are scattered by doubt and negativity, we fail to achieve our goals. In athletic competition, pressure is the fear of blowing it: losing a huge lead, missing the free throw, committing a penalty, throwing an interception. But the fear itself makes blowing it more likely, because thought is no longer focused on the desired object. We've all seen it, and we empathize. Defeat was created in the mind before it became a reality on the field. But telling the athlete to "Focus! Concentrate!" isn't going to do any good.

We all know what we're supposed to believe, how we ought to behave, what values we should embrace. But we often feel like we're asked to do the impossible, and then we feel even worse for not living up. The mind is conditioned to perform in certain ways. The power that comes from poise and confidence has to be felt; it is not a matter of having more willpower, or repeating the word "concentrate" to yourself. The good news is that this power is already within us. It is the power Steve used without even thinking about it to get his can of soup. The difference between happy and unhappy people is how often they use this power.

Imagine a woman unhappy both at home and at work. At work she's an unorganized procrastinator. Her house is a mess, she joins a fitness club but never goes, she's always late with her bills. Now, one day, as planned, she takes her children to their grandparent's house for a three day visit. It's normally an uneventful five hour drive, but today it is plagued by slow traffic, car breakdowns, car sickness, and order mix-ups at the fast food stop. Frustrations at every turn. Does it occur to her to turn around and go back home? Of course not; this was a commitment she had made to the people she loves the most, her children and her parents, and besides, she wants to see her parents too. She's been looking forward to this: she will get to her destination no matter how long it takes. The thought of turning around and going home does not ever enter her mind. It sounds absurd. Who would do that?

She feels low self-esteem because she can't get her life organized. But once allowed to do something she loves, even something as commonplace as a drive to her parents, there's no stopping her. We all have these connections - we are all "unstoppable" in some areas of our lives. We don't even "think" about them, even as our thoughts are entirely engaged upon them. We don't doubt what we're doing, let alone what we're sacrificing. We don't think about our self-esteem. We use the power of thought to bring our dreams into reality.

When we are fully engaged in something we love, our mindset is different. It is a mindset based on love, not on "right." On what we want to do, not as others would have us do. Where our discernments come from our values, not from rules. We don't define the beautiful in terms of the ugly, the excellent in terms of the ordinary, or love in terms of hate. We define them, instead by our emotions, by how we feel. We're not afraid to do the "wrong thing" because it doesn't exist. When we are passionate, we are focused. We become creators of the life we want, undistracted by doubt and negativity.

Creating the life you want means knowing the specific things you want, not just a vague feelings of peace and contentment. Your thoughts can make these dreams come true, as they direct your actions and make you alert to the opportunities that come together in the outer world. But freeing the mind to fully utilize this power means moving past negative thoughts of scarcity, sacrifice and guilt, with all the doubts they bring. You are what you think. If your dreams do not involve harming anybody else, there's no need to worry about whether you are doing the right thing. That will create the very doubt that will prevent your dreams from coming true.

The human mind has been held back for far too long. It is time to unleash it, and to fully embrace all that life has to offer.

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