In the coin section of my wallet, I carry the tag from an old teabag. It’s a quote from French Enlightenment philosopher Voltaire: “A witty saying proves nothing.” Amen.
We love clever sayings—even if they don’t make sense, even if our own life experiences have demonstrated something to the contrary, and even if we don’t fully understand the implications of the claim that is being made. We just pass these sayings to others on without thinking, especially if it threatens us.
In the e-mail world, this is done by clicking “forward.” I’ve repeatedly received a Bible verse claiming that Jesus said something judgmental and threatening. Each time I’ve received it, I ask the sender if she (it’s always a woman) really believes that Jesus would say something so unChristlike. Those who respond always say that they hadn’t thought about it. That’s the part I don’t understand. It’s the thinking faculty that separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom.
Some of the other oft-repeated sayings that fill me with wonder are those surrounding the spiritual Law of Attraction. These witticisms preach that you can have anything you want: Think it, believe it, visualize it, hold it as a dominant thought, and it will manifest out of thin air. That is the message of these sayings.
Some not only believe that this is true, they believe that repeating these witticisms actually gives others some hope that they can turn things around. Is it hope or a headache that they’re giving them?
According to the Law of Attraction prophets (many of whom are focused solely on profits), you can have anything you want—even if it’s not yours. You can have anything you want—even if it is not for your Highest Good to have it. You can have anything you want—even though your soul desires something totally different. You can have what you want—even if there’s only one of it, and more than one person wants it. Then that leads to the “blessed and highly favored” sayings that imply that Our Father plays favorites.
Witty sayings prove something if they are true 100% of the time for 100% of the people. If it happens for some, but not for everyone, it’s a possibility, not a truth. And they should be regarded as possibilities and nothing more.
How about this saying from the Loud Mouth: “What’s yours, you will get—at the right time and in the most perfect way—and no one can keep you from it.” While I have no proof that this happens 100% of the time for 100% of the people, there is some empirical evidence that reveals that it’s more probable than “you can have anything you want.”
Anyone who’s ever had a disappointment had to have anticipated a specific outcome: They visualized it, made it their dominant thought, and they believed that it was going to happen. But it didn’t—or it happened for someone else.
Two weeks ago, hardly anyone knew who Kesha Ni’Cole Nichols was. In her world, in her mind, and according to her plans, she was going to be honeymooning with NBA star Richard Jefferson right now.
This young woman had planned a $2 million wedding day. (The thought of a woman spending that kind of money for a ceremony and celebration that were going to last a few hours might have made any young man choke: Would he have enough money to sustain her for the rest of the year?) But I digress:
How many times do you think Ms. Nichols visualized herself proudly walking down the aisle with a church full of high-profile folks looking adoringly at her ridiculously expensive wedding gown? In this scene, the love of her life was always waiting at the end of aisle, eagerly waiting to say, “I take this woman.” Not once did it cross her mind that Jefferson would dump her the night before. In order to spend that kind of money, you could not have spent time thinking about anything but that wedding day. It was certifiably her dominant thought. And look what happened.
Ms. Nichols is not an exception. These things happen all the time. Heck, they’ve happened to you. It would be crass and untrue to say, “If you want to make God laugh, just make plans.” But you have to admit that it’s witty–and o are clever motivational sayings and formulas touting dominant thoughts, visualizations and other predictors of success, prosperity, and wellness that cannot be proved.
In fact, experience has proved otherwise. With the misperception that we are merely mortal creatures, and that acquiring stuff while we’re in these bodies will make us happy, these witty sayings steer us in the direction of material joy.
In actuality, peace of mind is what truly brings joy. Few things disturb our peace of mind more than getting, having stuff and keeping stuff. What we need are some sayings that give us peace of mind when we can’t pay our bills or when we face health challenges–sayings that have nothing to do with changing the circumstances, but understanding why we created them in the first place. Hmmm, how about: “Trust that whatever you are experiencing is designed by your soul for its Highest Good. Allow it to fulfill its purpose.”
I admit, it might not be very inspirational, but if I know that I am eternal and that the problem I’m facing is not, I am more likely to relax and trust that the soul and the God Spirit within me know what they’re doing.
Maybe it’s the Virgo in me, but I like to understand and analyze my experiences. Based on my belief that things don’t happen to me, they happen for me, I always ask the God Within: “Why did I create this situation, and how does it serve me?” Invariably–usually within 24 hours because I’ve practiced this so long–it is revealed why I am having that experience, and how it is benefitting me. As a consequence, I am rarely disturbed when things happen. I accept that it is happening for my growth and Highest Good. That doesn’t mean that I am delighted that I’m having the discomfort. For added measure, I frequently say something like, “I am open to experience something more pleasant, at the earliest and most perfect time.”
Challenges build muscle, teach lessons and stimulate growth. The last person you want to be around if things go wrong is someone who has not faced a challenge or a disappointment before. Problems are good. Disappointments are good. Not getting everything you want is good. Learning from every experience–and seizing the growth or practice opportunities they present–is even better.
What advice have you been given, based on a motivational saying, that was fact but not truth? How did you respond? Share so that we can all grow?