May 31 – What You Think Upon Grows Day

Posted May 31, 2015

I read in several places that “What you think upon grows” is a bit of Eastern philosophy, and perhaps it is – although not necessarily in those exact words. I did some research and couldn't find anything quite like this in the sayings of Confucius or Buddha.

It's not the same as the Eastern belief in karma – a sort of “what goes around comes around” – the idea that the sum total of a person's actions in a previous life decided his or her fate in this life, and that the sum total of a person's actions in this life will decide his or her fate in the next life. Note: There is no evidence for karma, nor for any earlier or “next life.”

The closest I could come to “What you think upon grows” is the old Cherokee story:

The Cherokee nation is not what I think of when I hear “Eastern”I think of Chinese or at least Indian peoples and philosophies. Still, I live in California, and the Cherokee certainly did and do live east of me!

Another instance of the idea of thinking positive thoughts is from the Bible, apparently written by the apostle Paul: “...whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”Philippians 4:8

The idea is, if you dwell on why you are angry at a person, how you can get revenge on someone who wronged you, how mean someone is, or how bitter you are that someone else got the position that you wanted...

Well, those negative thoughts can spiral you down more and more. You will get angrier and angrier, or more vengeful or bitter. Possibly your anger and envy will consume you!

Actually, when you smile, changes
happen in your brain, and you WILL
start to feel better!
Instead, you should try to climb on an upward spiral. Try to think the best of someone who hurt you – try to meet unkindness with kindness – try to find a silver lining to a bad situation. Sometimes, when you try to be more positive, you can get back a smile, a kind word, something that can make you feel more positive. And when you feel a bit better, you can act even more positive, and gain even nice, more positive responses from others...and on and on, in an upward spiral.

The date for “What You Think Upon Grows” Day is the birthday of minister and author Norman Vincent Peale, who was born on this date in 1898. He is famous for writing The Power of Positive Thinking.

Warning: The reality is that Peale's idea of the brain is overly simplistic, and some people may have been harmed by the advice in his book. Also, over-emphasis on positive thinking and optimism can be harmful to people who are feeling down, because they often feel guilty about feeling negative, which of course brings them down even further. People can't always just think their way into a more positive state of mind!

What do you think about the maxim “What you think upon grows”?

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