I want to tell you a little story. It happened during my first year in college. I was sitting in my room, late one night, studying for a chemistry test.
Tests seemed to be a major part of my life in those days. I longed for the time when I would never have to take another quiz, study for one more test or await the results of final exams.
I took a break from the chemistry book to reflect on the injustices of life. The food in the cafeteria seemed designed for nutrition and not enjoyment. The professors were unfair, so many projects, too much homework, too little time, too much this and too little that.
Shaking my head, I reached for a book a friend had dropped off the day before, leaned back in my chair, and switched my attention away from studying, at least for a short while. I looked at the title of the book. It was “The Night They Burned the Mountain,” by Dr. Thomas Anthony Dooley.
I casually flipped it open and thought I’d skim a few pages. My eyes settled on a sentence that was to determine, to a great extent, the path my life would take. The words read, “It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.”
I looked once more at the words. They seemed to burn into my mind. I closed the book, went back to studying for another hour or so and then went to bed.
Before falling asleep, I looked at my professors in a different light. Instead of seeing them as demons intent on making my life miserable, I now saw them as dedicated teachers trying to impart their knowledge and wisdom to me. Perhaps the cafeteria food was not so bad after all. Tests were there so that we could measure ourselves of today against ourselves of yesterday.
What Dr. Dooley said to me on that night long ago was this: Bring light into the situation, don’t berate the darkness; be grateful for what you have, don’t be angry at what you don’t have; change the way you look at events and the events will change the way they appear to you.
I took the test the next day and got an “A”. From that day on, I realized that the circumstances and events around us somehow reflected our inner landscape. That perspective is important and by changing the way I look at my world, I could change my very world.
Decades have come and gone since that first year in college. I have acquired various degrees in chemistry, mathematics and business and have worked in the hallowed halls of corporate America. I have written best-selling books and have lectured from Sydney, Australia to San Francisco, California; from Bali, Indonesia to Bombay, India.
There are many things I have done and still many more I have left undone. Yet, wherever I go or whatever I do, I use as one of my guideposts in life, “It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.” Those words have stood me in good stead through the darkest nights of my soul.
I heard again Dr. Dooley’s voice when I stood at the deathbed of my wife. It kept my company through the loss of my business. It was with me when my car was repossessed and when they foreclosed on my house.
Times have changed dramatically since my journeys through the “Valley of the Shadow.” But have times really changed or have I changed the way I look at things? Life is a lot more pleasant now or could it be that I have learned how to look at life differently?
Change the way you look at life and life will appear the way you look at it. Look for the good in everything and the good in everything will look right back at you. The way I figure it, you could berate the thorns on the rosebush or tenderly pick a rose and enjoy its beauty.
Perspective, choose it and use it. Use it or lose it. The Universe is biased on your side. Trust the process.