by Sally Marks
In a recent interview I was asked, “What can people do to embrace the magic within?”
Embrace the Magic Within is the subtitle of my book. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting this question (I’m new at being on the receiving end of an interview after all!) The short response is the two main components are to:
A: Erase negativity.
B: Develop a grateful attitude.
The media expects sound bites and I’m used to lengthier responses, but that IS the long and short of it - erase negativity and develop an attitude of gratitude. The dilemma is “embracing the magic within” is more of a journey than a final destination. For the sour pusses of the world, it requires a shift in thought. It can happen in a nano second, develop over a lifetime, or never happen at all.
It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes by Confucius:
Watch your thoughts they become your words.
Watch your words they become your actions.
Watch your actions they become your habits.
Watch your habits they become your character.
Watch your character it becomes your destiny.
The good news is that when you expect magical experiences, they have a way of manifesting on a regular basis. For instance, a couple of nights ago my spouse and I were in the backyard. Our “night time backyard adventures” resulted in our spying a tiny mouse, a baby bunny, and a toad lurking near our backyard pond.
Then we heard a crunching sound. CB pointed a flashlight at the bushes in the common area behind the house. There were two javelina (wild pigs) munching on a bush. We watched in fascination. And don’t worry, there was a fence between us and the pigs, so we weren’t in any danger (although I did retreat a step or two when one strolled in our direction.) It was fascinating to watch the pigs interact, burrow in the dirt, play with one another, and get a bite to eat.
Ironically, the night before I had a dream that we had a yard full of javelina (although in my dream some were striped like a zebra and others were bright colors like tropical fish). Maybe my subconscious was picking up on the possibility of the pig encounter. Perhaps I heard the crunching noise in my sleep and my brain conjured up a pig dream. Or maybe I just ate something that didn’t agree with me. But the bottom line is we did see javelina and it was fun to watch.
This may not seem like a magical encounter to many folks. In fact, a few years ago it wouldn’t have seemed like a magical encounter to me either. But when I changed my mindset from negativity (or indifference) to a grateful attitude, seemingly innocent encounters seem enchanting.
There is a gosho, or letter from the Buddhist priest and founder of Nichiren Buddhism called, “On Attaining Buddhahood in this Lifetime.” My favorite snippet from this writing is this: “If the minds of living beings are impure, their land is also impure, but if their minds are pure, so is their land. There are not two lands, pure or impure in themselves. The difference lies solely in the good or evil of our minds.”
When we shift our attitude from cynical to grateful, miracles can happen. It’s as if we create a new space in our hearts for happiness, or illuminate joyful things that had been previously hidden in the dark.
I do not believe that we are born negative. It is a behavior we learn. We may enter this world with a certain predisposition toward happiness or crankiness, but it is not written in stone. We have the power to change it.
For example, I have two grandchildren, one is two years old and the other is one. Since I don’t have to deal with the day-to-day responsibility of their upbringing, I have the opportunity to observe them as they perceive the world. And I can tell by watching them that they embrace magic every day. Everything is a wonder to them.
Now some of these wonders are a “no no” (like turning the TV, computer and other electronics off and on) but other things are perfectly acceptable to enjoy. I try to expose them to as many delightful encounters as I can. The same is true for we grown ups.
We can choose to embrace the magic of every day sights, sounds and experiences, or we can go through life bemoaning the things we do not have. I believe Abraham Lincoln said it best. “"People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be."
You can go through life as a grouch, or you can embrace the magic within. The important thing to remember the choice is yours. It may be a simple decision, but it one you will need to make every day.