Recently, I had the privilege to be in the company of a wise friend who told me a beautiful story. I would like to share that story with you and allow you to contemplate the meaning and wisdom of this tale, especially as we are departing a rather eventful 2020 and entering a hopeful and more promising 2021.
‘The Two Travellers’
“Once upon a time…there was a traveller who was walking from a village in the mountains to a village in the valley.
As he walked along, he saw a monk working in a field, so he stopped and said to the monk,
“I’m on my way to the village in the valley, can you tell me what it’s like?”
The monk looked up from his labour and asked the man where he had come from.
The man responded, “I have come from the village in the mountains.”
“What was that like?” the monk asked.
“Terrible!” the man exclaimed, “no-one spoke my language, I had to sleep on a dirty floor in one of their houses, they fed me some sort of stew that tasted terrible and the weather was atrocious.”
“Then I think that you will find that the village in the valley is much the same,” the monk noted.
A few hours later another traveller passed by and he said to the monk,
“I am on my way to the village in the valley, can you tell what it’s like?”
“Where have you come from?” enquired the monk.
“I have come from the village in the mountains.”
“And what was that like?”
“It was wonderful!” the man replied, “No-one spoke my language, so initially I had to learn to communicate using hands gestures and facial expressions until eventually I learned the new language. I had to sleep on the floor, which was a totally new experience for me. They fed me some sort of weird stew and I have no idea what was in it but just to experience how the locals lived was great and the weather was freezing cold, which meant that I really got a taste of the local conditions and tested my own strengths. It was one of the best experiences of my life, I learned so much about others and myself.”
“Then I think that you’ll find that the village in the valley is much the same,” responded the monk.”
We shape our life according to how we choose to experience it. There will always be an abundance of reasons to complain and equally there will always be an abundance of reasons to feel grateful.
The way I interpreted the meaning and value of this tale was that by choosing to view what life presents us with in an optimistic manner we attract positivity and abundance. In doing so we allow ourselves to learn and develop and ultimately reach our full potential. When we choose to concentrate on the least desirable aspects of an experience, we reinforce the negativity within whereby we are denying ourselves the possibility of testing our limitations, developing strengths and realising our true nature. As a consequence, we run the very real risk of missing both the lesson and the beauty therein.
Paul the Apostle in the Christian New Testament Epistle to the Galatians famously wrote:
“for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”
The rapidly developing and fascinating science of epigenetics is serving to expand our knowledge and appreciation into the importance of our conscious positive choices and how optimism can help to change our life on a genetic and indeed cellular level.
Dr Christine Bradstreet in 2019 explains that ‘science proves that we can change our DNA with mind control’.
By choosing to experience the world in a positive and ultimately optimistic manner we aid our body towards achieving a much healthier disposition which directly translates to beneficial thought processes, feelings and actions. It creates a circulation of positivity that connects the individual to their immediate environment, hence the saying ‘what goes around comes around’
Dr C. Backstreet explains,
‘It’s not in our genes, it’s in our thoughts.
There’s no such thing as the mind and the body as separate, independent units.
Our bodies aren’t shells or housing for our minds either.
Body and mind are inextricably intertwined, and the thoughts that we think, and the activity of the mind, determine the health and expression of our DNA.’
The Roman poet Juvenal coined the famous phrase when he wrote 'Orandum est ut sit mens sana in corpore sano' — You should pray for a healthy mind in a healthy body — around the end of the first century AD.
Optimism and positivity are the fundamental elements in achieving a healthy existence.
Be the shining example of positivity, optimism and hope. If we allow it to be, 2021 could be the catalyst for the most rewarding and meaningful chapter of our lives.
Happy 2021! May you be inundated with optimism and positive reflections.
Maria O’Meara, MA, BSc (Hons)
Empowerment and Personal Performance Coach,