Do the negative things we think make us grouchy? When we’re grouchy, do we show it? When we’re hopeful and loving, do we show it?
Negative thoughts don’t just happen, do they? When you get a negative idea, does it originate inside you, or does it first start somewhere else and then grow inside you as you think about it? When you entertain a downer idea, do you feed that idea? Feed it with more thoughts like it? But then where do those thoughts come from? Are they inside you already, or are they born from the first idea? Do thoughts breed? Can they reproduce? Can ideas germinate? Pollinate? Can you weed the garden of your mind? How does that work? And is it fun work? Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could see it as a thrill to remove a negative thought from our mental vocabulary? Double positive! You would get to the way of optimistic thinking and have fun doing it!
Where do positive thoughts originate? In Hell or Heaven? If there was no positive thinking, would there be no Heaven? If there was no negative thinking, would there be no Hell? If there was no life on Earth, would there be no “sunrise”? Would there be no morning? If there was no songbird, would there be no music? Would there be no “nature”? Aren’t you glad there is nature, a songbird, a sunrise, and a morning?
Gratitude comes from somewhere. Where does gratitude originate? Is it in the recognition of our need? Is it in the realization of what exists? Do we see the alternative? Do we recognize all of these at once? Do we see our need for the thing, recognize that it exists, and focus on the fact that the alternative isn’t with us? For instance, is gratitude for the songbird because a person needs to hear the tune, finds gladness in the existence of the beautiful song, and is appreciative that the bird doesn’t sound like a crow? Gaakh! What if all birds sounded like crows? Gaakh! Gaakh! Then along came a new species, a bird that whistled in more than one tone? The birth of the new species would be like sunrise after a long, cold night.
At least, for the person who needed the song, it would be like sunrise. What if you somehow started to love the sound of crows? Then would the birth of the songbird feel as if it was the sign of the end for the crows? Could a person grow attached to their sorrows? Could a person feel needful toward negative thinking? What happens when you get there, to the point where your negative thoughts are like part of your essential being? Would weeding the mental garden feel more like amputation? Would you get all positive, but not even recognize your new optimistic self?
The point, of course, is just how deeply do you allow yourself to go into those negative thought waters? How weedy do you let the garden get? If you continually loved the darkness, would you eventually dislike the sunrise? Does pessimism really love itself? By definition, it wouldn’t act in self-love. Pessimism is self-loathing. Optimism is at least hopeful toward oneself.
Gratitude, then, is like the knowledge of a sunrise. It’s appreciation and expectation all wrapped up in one. Gratitude is a characteristic of the optimistic.