The Story of the Black Dot

25 11 2009

With the recession continuing to take its toll on so many of us, a sermon I heard many years ago continues to come back to me. It’s helped me and I thought I’d share it with you.

At the start of his talk, a young priest held up a piece of paper with a small black circle in the middle of the page. He asked us all what we saw. The responses were virtually the same, “a black dot.” He said that the interesting thing was that the black dot made up only 1% of the page, while the remaining 99% was white. He continued, saying this was so like our human nature – we tend to focus on the black dot instead of seeing all the white space around it!

Tomorrow, as we celebrate Thanksgiving, it’s a natural time for us to focus on all the white space on the page. We have people we love, family and friends who enrich our lives, we have health (or varying degrees of it, some are just grateful to be alive to share the day), and we have talents and passions that we can put to work in careers or in volunteerism.

But after tomorrow, remember the story of the black dot when the everyday cares return and start to wear you down.

When we are being bombarded by negativity in the media and see the harsh reality of this economy among friends and family who’ve lost their savings, their jobs and sometimes their homes, it’s hard not to focus on that black dot. Our worries weigh down our spirits and change our attitudes on life and our future.

When that happens, let’s consciously reset our thinking. I heard a TV program recently where someone said, “where the mind goes, the energy flows.”

My brother, Rob, is an amazing mountain biker. He has taught many, including me, how to bike through the mountain trails around Northern California. There are times when the trail is rocky, or there is a steep drop off to the side (the Flume Trail at Lake Tahoe is a classic one with spectacular views…and a loooong drop down). As a novice mountain biker, my inclination was to look at the cliff as I tried to avoid it. But Rob told me, “your bike goes where your eyes look. Keep your eyes on where you want to go!”

When you find you’re getting weighed down, do a mental reset and remind yourself of all of the good things that are in your life right now and carefully build up that feeling of gratitude. Instead of scarcity, think of abundance.

Intentionally surround yourself by encouraging and upbeat people. Emotions and attitudes are infectious; we are affected by those around us, and we affect others in turn. Negativity may be unintentionally creeping into your networking calls or job interviews, so the mental reset will vastly improve your results.

This economy doesn’t define us, it refines us. Hardships call out new strengths and forge our character. This is our opportunity to bring out the best in ourselves by helping each other and to start creating the future we want now.

Remember, where you look, you go!