A fictitious character recently informed me, and I now believe, that it is our attitude towards the various happenstances of life that controls the outcomes. Whatever may happen, whatever mistakes we may make, our attitude is the defining factor. To paraphrase without attribution, we may chose the right attitude, or the wrong one, one that is constructive, or one that is self-destructive. I found this to be a remarkable insight into our lives here on earth, and the basic assumption certainly worked very well for the character who espoused it. Conversely, the failure to follow this advice certainly doomed the character to whom the advice was given. The worked-very-well side of that conversation had much more appeal for me.
It was quite the little epiphany, sitting on a nice, air-conditioned bus in heavy Bangkok traffic, reading a scholarly article that the New York Review of Books website had generously allowed me to download free. I had recently read all five of the novels that were the subject of the article, and I profited from the “reviewer’s” analysis of the title character. Reading the books, I admired the character’s panache, and his willingness to do whatever was required to retrieve bad situations, but I felt that I was merely observing his successes. The article made me realize that I could adopt the character’s techniques to my own life.
I started smiling, and I couldn’t stop. It would be possible, I realized, for me to cast the entire experience of my life in positive terms, and then believe it. I could invent new, wonderfully positive and helpful attitudes to almost everything that has ever happened to me, and substitute them for my customary negative and self-condemnatory ones. What a remarkable idea! And well within the capabilities of the human brain, which is much more flexible than we give it credit for.
What a wonderful opportunity! The fascinating prospect of re-inventing my entire life, no, not re-inventing, re-interpreting. It all happened just like it did, after all, but my understanding of what it all meant was terribly, terribly wrong. Not to worry, though, there’s plenty of time. I can’t wait to discover how this re-evaluation of my past might affect my future. It’s just possible that I have always been a success, but that I have never known it. I have always felt like a lucky man, but perhaps I am even more lucky that I have realized.
What a wonderful adventure!