My brother called me the other day very excited about a new mantra he just started using. It wasn’t really a mantra in the way we usually think about them—some word that you say over and over again in your mind during meditation. It was more like a little expression or affirmation he could repeat often that would remind him of his beliefs and his values. In this case the expression was, “Everything’s working out for me.” Of course, he couldn’t prove that this statement was true because it was just his interpretation of events but it was powerful nonetheless. The mind, as you probably have observed, organizes around an intention. When he intends to see the world this way, his mind starts gathering evidence to support his assertion. He told me that it has started to affect his reactions to formerly upsetting situations.
He owns and operates a limousine and is on the road much more than most people. He has always been an amazing driver. He knows every shortcut in the city and every way to minimize traffic jams. Despite all the miles he puts on his limo, he has successfully avoided accidents by his alertness and his habit of observing what is happening several car lengths ahead of him. Unfortunately, not everybody drives as well as he does and this frustrates him sometimes.
Late the other evening, he had just finished a job and was happy to be heading home. It was 1 AM and he was traveling on Rock Creek Parkway in downtown Washington, DC. Unfortunately, he got stuck behind a cab doing 25 mph on the two lane road. Ordinarily this would have elicited a negative reaction from him e.g., “Oh, Great! Why did I have to get stuck behind this guy when I’m trying to get home?”
But this time, rather than look for an opportunity to scoot around him and speed up, he checked his reaction and repeated his new mantra to himself, “Wait, everything’s working out for me.” He decided to just slow down, not be in such a hurry and follow the cab from a greater distance. Just saying this to himself calmed him down and reduced his stress. A minute later, as they went under an overpass, he saw several policemen standing on the shoulder pointing radar guns at passing cars and handing out speeding tickets. Seeing that he had just dodged a bullet, he repeated the mantra to himself with a big smile, “Yes, everything is working out for me.” The incident reinforced his belief in the validity of his statement. He had several other stories to tell me with a similar theme.
There is great power in training ourselves to see the world in a certain way. It can not only change our perceptions of our situation but can change how we feel during the day. I’ve noticed then when I say, “Everything is working out for me” (I’ve tried this out since he told me about it), I feel hopeful, safe, lucky and loved. These feelings alone make the mantra worth repeating. I, too, start gathering evidence to support this theory. As I come to believe this statement, it allows me to change not only my attitude but my behavior. Like my brother, I can choose peace over frustration, anxiety and stress.
Do you have a mantra of your own that helps you put the world into a better perspective? I’d love to hear about it.