Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Moving From Pessimism to Optimism

One thing about being a priest is that no matter how bad things seem in my life, I am always meeting people whose lives seem worse. That's one of the problems with suffering (and one of the differences between me and Jesus); suffering usually makes us self-focused. So when we are feeling bad about life, remember, it can always get worse.

A Maharaja went out to sea when a great storm arose. One of the slaves on board began to cry out and wail in fear, for the man had never been on a ship before. His crying was so loud and so prolonged that everyone on board began to be annoyed and the Maharaja was for throwing the man overboard. But his Chief Adviser who was a sage said. “No let me deal with this man. I think I can cure him”. With that he ordered some of the sailors to hurl the man in the sea .The moment he found himself in the sea the poor slave began to scream in terror and to thrash out wildly. In a few seconds the sage ordered him to be hauled on board. Back on board the slave lay in a corner in absolute silence . When the Maharaja asked his advisor for the reason he replied, ”We never realize how lucky we are until our situation gets worse”. (Anthony de Mello, Prayer of the Frog vol 2, p. 212.)

So things can always be worse! And in addition, remember what Jesus said: the sun will shine tomorrow. Hey, it will be a new day, with new opportunities, and new gifts to see and enjoy if we open our eyes. The sun will shine. And if things still seem bad, remember, very rarely do things turn out as bad as they seem they might. Very rarely. About the only one I know is death, because that is pretty definitive. (But even that can't swallow up all the goodness of God.)

The three keys to moving from pessimism to optimism:
things could be a lot worse
the sun will shine tomorrow (and there are lots of good things in life)
and things rarely turn out as bad as you think they will

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