One thing to live for
When I was about 24 years old, I did something I had never done before. Nothing dramatic. Nothing bad or good. I just went for a drive and walked around the mall with no aim in mind. Just wandered. I’d never done that before and I don’t think I’ve done it since. But on that occasion, I just so happened to meet a woman named Tracey—although these days my wife goes by Hope.
Later on, during her depressive years, my wife read a whole library of books searching for something, anything, that could make the difference in her life. Sometimes I would hear the sound of her latest book hitting the wall from where she’d thrown it. “Do they think I’m an idiot?” She would say. “It says to think happy thoughts instead of negative ones. Do they really think I’m not trying that?” At one point, the two of us totaled up the money we had spent searching for a cure for her depression, and it was up over $100,000. And although none of those things was the answer, the process eventually led to the discovery of the Healing Codes, which was the one thing that proved able to effectively treat her.
My point is this: sometimes one little thing makes all the difference, and it can often be something seemingly small and innocuous. A book that finally holds the answer that works for you, an airplane ride where you get a crazy idea or a casual drive to the mall where you just happen to meet the love of your life. I can’t tell you how many lives I’ve seen improved or even saved to some extent by just one small change, but how can you ever know where to look for the one little thing that will help you?
The truth is that there is no way to predict life’s surprises. But I can give you an example of such a tool that is common to all of us. This comes from one of my personal heroes, Victor Frankl, the founder of Logotherapy and a Jewish holocaust survivor. When he talked about his experience in the concentration camps, he said that he was able to survive by exercising the last of human freedoms: the right and ability to choose his internal state, regardless of his circumstances.
So what exactly does that process look like? Frankl talked about two images that he fixed in his mind’s eye during that time. One was an image of the past, sitting by the fire with his family, reading, laughing, just being together, and enjoying the warmth of each other’s love. The second was an image of one day getting out of the camp back to normal life and writing a book that would help lots of other people with their own trials. He noted later in his book, Man’s Search for Meaning that many people didn’t have images like his to give them that internal freedom and those people usually died.
Let’s talk for a moment about the power of these images. In German, there are actually two words for imagination—one for daydreaming and one for creating. When you hear the word “imagination,” there’s a bit of a stigma to think more of the first, but it is important to realize that imagination is the first and greatest creative tool in the universe. Everything mankind has ever made was made first in the imagination, and that includes your best life.
There are a couple of points I should clarify. First, creating an image of your future in this way should be an act of faith—not of expectation. An expectation is just another failure condition that could cause you even more stress than before. Instead, you are simply exercising a belief that your life can improve and doing whatever you can to move toward it. Second, whatever you do must be rooted in truth. Whether you’re returning to memories of the past or creating an image of the future, you must not lie to yourself, or you’ll only cause more stress. Your aim should be the most positive possible interpretation of a memory or vision of the future that you still consider to be truthful.
This concept is something that I explored more deeply in my book, Memory Engineering. For many people, their internal state is so negative that even things which would normally be of great benefit, such as the Healing Codes, are suppressed. I’ve found that spending some time actively imaging things that are both true and powerfully good in your life can be one of the most freeing and powerful things you can ever do, and I hope you’ll give it a try this week.
Have a blessed, wonderful day!