The Chicken or the Egg?
By Michael Riggs
Which comes first, a thought or a feeling? Do you first think, “I am going to have a successful day,” which leads to a good feeling about that day? Or, do you feel good about the activities and possibilities of the day, and then think. “I am going to have a successful day?”
Is it important which comes first? Or, is it a circular debate that brings us back to square one?
Many positivists from the late Zig Ziglar to Norman Vincent Peale espouse that you can control your future through maintaining a positive and optimistic viewpoint of life and its circumstances. In essence, if you see yourself succeeding, being happy, winning, overcoming adversity, getting a raise, and marrying your lifelong sweetheart and raising a healthy family, you will. Or, at least, you give yourself the very best opportunity to do so. The added bonus is that your positive thoughts will keep you in a good frame of mind which will, in turn, allow you to better enjoy your life. Apparently, it all starts with your thoughts. Or does it?
Another possibility is that your feelings are the truest window to your soul. Feelings, concepts beyond linguistic description, are the essence of what you are. You are what you feel. The contentedness that springs from your core when you feel the sunshine on your face on a warm August afternoon, or the well of emptiness you feel when the image of a deceased loved one passes through your mind are the true essence of what you are — your feelings.
Could it be that we, as humans, need to believe we are in control of our destiny? The positivists cling to the belief that while the world may be a place that rotates on its own in time and space and with its own agenda, we have certain control over our reaction to the events within our experience of the world. A cold, dreary, rainy November day has the possibility to be a source of emotional depression, or the opportunity to cozy up next to a warm, crackling fire and fall into a good book. “The choice is yours to see it any way you wish,” proclaim the positivists. Ironically, the way you perceive and react to the uncontrollable events of your life places you in a position of control. An uncontrollable event instigates a thought which leads to a feeling. Them we simply act upon our feelings.
Could it be best to allow ourselves to simply experience our feelings and tune in to our truest selves — without need to control or alter an outcome? Is it O.K. to just “be” and feel? The world trains us to disguise our feelings and teaches us to display, instead, what we should be feeling. This cover-up results in a slow retreat of the connection between our thoughts and our feelings. Consequently, experiencing our feelings becomes off limits; like the hot-oven-door that we are taught not to touch when we are kids. Could it be that the only way back to sincere positivism is through recognizing, embracing, and cohabitation with our feelings?
Or, are both concepts incorrect? Is either explanation too linear? Does there need to be a cause and effect? Could it be that the truest path to self-understanding, inner peace, genuine life satisfaction and accomplishment is an orchestration of our thoughts and feelings with utter disregard for which comes first? After all, is it really that important? Maybe, a much simpler recipe is, “if you feel good or bad, it’s O.K. But, no matter how you feel, follow your feelings with a positive thought.” You will become what you think of most.
Only you can control your future through maintaining a positive and optimistic viewpoint of life and all its circumstances that it brings your way.
Whether it’s selling bikes in his Connecticut store or filling orders for corporate rewards programs, he knows a successful business is about more than just selling stuff. Zane, 46, got his start at age 12 fixing bikes in his parents’ East Haven, Connecticut, garage. At 16, he convinced his parents to let him take over the lease of a bike shop going out of business, borrowing $23,000 from his grandfather-at 15 percent interest. His mother tended the store while he was at school in the mornings. In his first year, he racked up $56,000 in sales. This year, he expects to bring in $21 million.
In Another’s Words
“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.”