Author's note: I am a compulsive advice-giver-always have been. When my own son was in high school, he wasn't interested in his old man's advice so I wrote it down in the hope that he might change his mind one day. What follows is one piece of the that advice. I trust it applies to all of us, regardless of age.
There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.
Early on, we must establish the premise that you, and only you, have control over your own thinking. This is an absolute truth, and you must accept it before going further.
To reject this premise is to view yourself as helpless, weak, and unable to think independently. Everyone knows on some level that they can control their minds, but most never consciously do it. Once you accept that you can control your thinking, the next step is to take responsibility for doing so.
Have you ever known anyone who only seemed to be happy when he or she was miserable? This may be because you can blame misery on someone else, but you must take personal responsibility in order to be happy. As Robert Anthony put it, “Most people would rather be certain they're miserable than risk being happy.”
What these miserable people can’t grasp is that their misery is their own fault, just as they would deserve the credit if they were happy. Both happiness and misery are results of simple decisions you make about your attitude.
Martha Washington said, “The greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions, and not on our circumstances.” Follow this logic with me for a moment: if our happiness is determined by our disposition, and we can control that disposition, then we have the power to create our own happiness.
Your disposition is like a garden: if you pay attention to it and give it care, it will grow and flourish. If you ignore or neglect it, then weeds will creep in, the good stuff will die, and it will get ugly.
You are the gardener of your own disposition. It’s not a job that you can delegate to others, and it’s not going to happen on its own. If it’s going to get done, you will have to do it yourself. Don’t expect outside forces to provide that which you alone control.
All I’m asking of you right now is that you accept that you can control your own thinking and resolve to do so. Resolve—here and now—that you will not leave your own disposition to chance. Take responsibility for the kind of person you will be.