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EBS64: Thought Makes the Difference

Eric Butterworth Speaks: Essays on Abundant Living #64

Delivered by Eric Butterworth on September 1, 1975

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I like the ring of one of my favorite Bible quotations: “For God gave us not the spirit of fearfulness but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” Just what are you doing with this greatest of gifts? The nature of the world in which we live is not made so much by outer conditions as by what goes on in our minds. We truly shape our lives by how we think and how we have thought in the past.

When you look at yourself in the mirror, the important thing is not your face, it is your mind. Jesus taught that what you think in your mind is the source of all that really counts. “Out of the heart are the issues of life.” He was ever concerned with what people were thinking, knowing that the thought is father of the deed. On this very day, as you read this, you are what your thoughts have made you over the past minutes and hours and days and years. If you are curious about your future condition, know that you will be essentially what you are thinking about at present and will be dwelling upon as time goes on.

The difference between happiness and misery, success and failure, effectiveness and uselessness, competence and ineptitude, courage and fear, strength and weakness, cannot be blamed on circumstances or on other people, but solely on the condition of your mind—thought makes the difference.

Because of the law of gravity, an apple falls to the ground; because of the law of growth, an acorn grows to be a tall oak tree; because of the law of causation, a man is “as he thinketh in his heart.” As a thinker, you must control your thoughts, even though, like the rest of us, have been conditioned to respond emotionally to various situations. Unkind remarks hurt our feelings; irresponsible drives make us angry; the suggestion of danger scares us. These reactions are what we have thusfar learned, but the proper action of the will can make these reactions unnecessary.

An incident is external, your reaction to it is your own. Whatever outside trauma occurs to you, whether you get fired from your job, have a quarrel with your neighbors, or lose your keys, you don’t have to let these things wound you on the inside. There is sometimes nothing much to be done about the outer event, but only you are the master of what happens inside you (and of what you think about what happens outside of you). A Quaker, commended for his tranquil, non-resistant composure, said, “Why should I let the other person determine how I am going to act and feel; no matter what the other person does, why should I permit him to decide that I am going to be upset, to have emotional control over me?”

Begin to see that life is lived from the inside out. What happens all around us is really irrelevant; the only importance lies in what is happening within us. Are you holding positive thoughts that will attract good to yourself, or are you thinking negatively, thus repelling good and actually permitting inharmony to seep in?

Much of our thought is subconscious, and our thought patterns are deeply ingrained and have been developing unawares through the years. Sometimes these patterns overwhelm our attempts to think positively. A person may be consciously stating that he knows he can succeed and has the faith that he will, but all the time he is battling his long-time feelings of insufficiency. Paul observed, “That which I would do I Jo not, and that which I would not, that I do.” This describes a Universal problem of mind.

That the battle is worth waging, however, is best understood in this statement by Ralph Waldo Trine: “Within each one of us lies the cause of whatever comes to him. No disease can enter into or take hold of our bodies unless it finds therein something corresponding to itself which makes it possible.”

Hard work is ahead of you. But begin to work with this all-embodying law. You will go just as far as you believe you will. Your life is restricted only by the limitations you yourself impose upon it. Those invisible but very real walls that keep us apart from our good are self-erected and must therefore be taken down by the action of self. As Paul advises, “Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

Believe that you can transform your thoughts and free them from rigid ways and negative patterns. You do not really have to be upset or afraid or angry or insecure. You can think what you want to think! You can react with the sort of feelings and attitudes in consciousness that will be beneficial and creative. We need very likely to embark upon a program of actual mental reconditioning, and to make an honest effort to create the sort of thought patterns that will provide the results we enjoy.

Jesus said, “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, ‘Remove hence’, and it shall be moved; nothing shall be impossible unto you.” Do not rely on a vague, limpid feeling of faith to effect sweeping changes for you. Rather speak your word to your mountain, and declare to the obstacles in your life that you are not afraid, that you are far from weak, that you are all you want to be because you are a spiritual being. As you think and speak these words, know full well that your subconscious mind is seizing these words and forming them into patterns of thought that will point the way to welcome changes in your life and to personal control over your destiny.

An important point to remember is that, when you consider yourself capable and creative, you are not making yourself that way. You are simply placing a spotlight on your own innate potential. The direction in which a weather vane is pointing does not bring the wind; it is simply an indication that the wind is blowing in that direction. Positive thinking does not make creative power nor does it change God or alter conditions. Positive thinking simply attunes you to the power which is, and the act of turning to the positive lifts you to the level of the powerful. But the power has always been within us, ever-ready, ever-waiting.

The mere repetition of a few words will hardly transform a nobody into a renowned genius. What we are teaching here is that each and every person is innately a child of God and that there is really no such thing as innate weakness or sinfulness—these labels have been artificially superimposed by man. Deep within us all is this unique, Son-of-God self; our problem is the frustration, the overlooking of our potential. This is what weakness is all about.

Each of us has the inherent, built-in capacity to be a radiant expression of our uniqueness, to let our light shine, to be happy and successful and healthy and fulfilled. We tend to become and to take on the characteristics of our associations in thought or experience. So, desiring to change our patterns, we must change these habitual associations; we must reject dwelling on hardship, suffering, deprivation and hazards, and emphasize rather the opportunities that come our way. We must begin right here and now to think the kind of thoughts that will produce and lead to the experiences to which we are entitled.

As an example, the ladies in our office one day were discussing how to lose weight, and were trading diet secrets. One woman commented that the real way was to get into one’s consciousness that one is a beautiful child of God: young, slender, graceful, and that one’s body knows it and shows it. If you have tried everything else, try this works!

Emphasize the sort of positive conditions you desire. If you make a silly mistake, don’t dwell on it and give it power, lest you build another negative thought pattern. How much smarter to affirm, “I am a spiritual being, confident, capable, creative; having learned from my mistake I am going right on to surpass it.” Instead of worrying about your age, instead of communicating your aches and pains and feelings of loneliness to others, begin to turn to positive things, to the real truth of feeling happier, healthier, stronger, and more involved every day. Building such constructive patterns into your consciousness, getting yourself on a raised level of thinking, will start to make a difference in you. This is what this new insight into truth is all about. And, you can be sure of one thing... thought does make the difference.

© 1975, by Eric Butterworth

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