Creative Thinking: The importance of ‘how’

Elsa Franco Al Ghaslan

Published — Wednesday 22 August 2012

Last update 22 August 2012 9:16 pm

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MY DEFINITION of “how” is the way you carry our a certain deed, including also the feelings involved and not only the physical action. To explain what I mean, I shall recount what happened to a friend of mine.
Imagine this little skit. The characters are A, B and C. Neither B nor C physically appear. It is A’s birthday and she (it could also be “he”) expects a present from B. She finds a big box of her favorite chocolates in the refrigerator and immediately assumes it is the gift that B is going to give her later. Eventually she finds out that B had forgotten all about her birthday and that the chocolates are from C, whom A did not expect any present from.
So far, so good. A is a bit disappointed, but she tries to get over it with a smile. But then she realizes that B is eating her chocolates without having even bothered asking whose they were. At this point A’s patience is really challenged. She thinks, “Should I be a saint and leave the sweets where they are, or should I remove them and put them in a “safer” place?” She debates the issue for some time. As she is a good, forgiving person, she “knows” she should leave the box in the fridge. But she is not happy with the idea. The possibility of talking to B about the whole thing is out of the question.
Therefore the only other possibility is to take the sweets away. She honestly examines herself and, although she firmly believes in forgiveness, she also knows that, right now, she cannot leave the chocolates where they are because, if she saw that B had eaten some more, she would “really” get upset. So she decides to move the box somewhere else. And so she does. She is not proud of herself, she feels a bit mean, but right now it’s all she could honestly do.
At the light of Positive Thinking, how would you judge A’s behavior?
Negatively, I bet. You would say, “How petty! Can’t she forgive such a small, insignificant thing?” She certainly could, and I agree that the whole problem is trivial, of very little importance. Nevertheless, the feeling involved is “very” important. If A decides to leave the box where it is, she will do it in the wrong way, i.e. with the wrong attitude (still being upset), for the wrong reason (feeling obligated by her own conviction). The “how” she does the good deed is incorrect. She will compel herself into doing something she believes not to be fair. What will the result be? She will grow more and more resentful towards B, especially if she sees that he (or she) keeps on eating her chocolates.
The wisdom behind all this? Simple. Any time you believe you “should” do something, you must be totally convinced that it is the right thing to do. You must experience, deep inside, the certitude that what you are about to do is also what you “want” to do. Whenever you do anything without conviction, you will do it in a way that is not fruitful for your spiritual progress.
I am a firm believer in “motivation”. Although I don’t deny that even good deeds done for the wrong reasons can be acceptable (they are certainly useful to those who receive them) they are absolutely fruitless for the people who perform them. You might say, “A deed is a deed so, if it is a good one, it is always positive.” Maybe, but not for both parties. If a feeling of “coercion” — even if self-inflicted — is involved, resentment will be born.
No matter how much you try to ignore it, it will be there. And it will stay there until you have elaborated it, digested it, and finally released it. Only when you have got rid of any negative sensation, will you be ready to act in the correct way. And only then will your action result beneficial, either materially or spiritually, to everyone concerned.

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