Thoughts Are Things and They Do Matter…
Talk presented by Rich Hayes
Jan. 29, 2017
at Unitarian Universalist Church
Pittsfield, MA

"Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world."
- Harriet Tubman

I routinely start my day with a reading. I'd like to share one with you. This one comes from Science of Mind daily guides and it's where I found todays reading:

"Admittedly it is sometime a challenge to celebrate life. At times we can get caught up in the throes or energy of all that seems to be crazy. Yes with the news of shootings around the nation, the political climate, the fact that people still don't have enough to eat, it can seem difficult to celebrate life. However it is doable. In order for us not to be snagged by any of this we have to have a new thought.
It doesn't help the world at all when we get on the bandwagon and join others who proclaim life is terrible. No, we have to have courage to say, I don't believe that. We have to have the power not to conform to this way of thinking. As Romans 12:2 reads: "And be not conformed to this world: But be transformed by the renewing of your mind."
You have within you the strength, patience and passion to reach for the stars to change the world. By having a new thought of peace, love and grace, you get to bring about the changes you want to see in your world. It is time for all of us to go beyond believing that "change your thinking, change your life" is just a catchy phrase. It's time to consistently put this into practice, knowing that as we renew our minds, we and the world around us are

I just celebrated another birthday and as my custom, I did an extended meditation - kind of a mini "life review".

A time in my life came back to me as I sat silently. It was Feb. 1964. Just a little more than 2 months after JFK had been killed and 3 months after my little brother Jim had died of cancer. On this particular Sunday night I sat in my family living room along with my sister and watched Ed Sullivan and saw the Beatles. That night a cloud lifted for me-the dark cloud that had seemed to be over everything went away.

I heard them, saw them, and in that, began to imagine myself doing what they did. I was 11 at the time. This desire grabbed me and I begin to think about how I could do it. I began to imagine myself doing it-seeing myself playing on stage and having a band. I talked to friends about my dream and some of them joined me in trying to do this. Within 2 years of this I had my first real band and within 3 years I was actually getting paid to do it!

Thoughts are things. They have effects and consequences. Einstein said that imagination is more important than knowledge.
As a boy I learned that thoughts DO become real things. Through my repeatedly thinking and imagining and focusing on the desire they created, I was motivated to learn to play an instrument. What had started in my mind became real in the world!

(*There is considerable science today supporting the theory that consciousness and matter do interact and are very much connected)

But this principle-the very thing that had helped me to become a musician - also worked against me as I got older.

I will confess to you here that as I had moved into the middle years of my life (at least middle from where I stand now) I’d developed a number of bad habits, both physically and mentally.

I no longer recognized the power of the thoughts I had begun to cultivate and pay attention to.

Having forgotten that earlier time in my life, at this time I viewed thoughts as simply things that my brain threw at me all the time. They came and went seemingly of their own accord. Some were serious and begged for my attention, others just seemed like random blurts or commentary on what I saw as I looked out at the world.

I’d stopped paying attention to what my mind was thinking much of the time! (Not so good! The mind will do all kinds of things when you let it!)
Often my attention was turned towards whatever was wrong in the world, or just the simple futility I felt at times. I’d grown cynical. And complaining about things with other people who felt as I did felt good to me, like I wasn’t alone. This gave me the illusion that in some way, some how I was doing something.
(I was, but I was not aware of its effect on me as it only reinforced these habits of thoughts and continued to return to me more of what I’d been experiencing).

Had it not been for another time in my life, one that I now view as every bit as significant and important as that Sunday night in 1964, I doubt I’d be here today speaking to you.

This was a very difficult time when I found myself out of work and unable to find a job for a number of months.

Finally I was offered one. Now this was a job I normally would have refused (I felt unqualified) and it paid less than what I was used to making. But to work was better than to not work and I did have bills to pay.
So my situation seemed desperate to me, and thanks to the gift of desperation, I decided to accept it.

I started with this small consulting company run by 2 men who saw something in me. And thanks to this job and their support and what they began to teach me I was reintroduced to this understanding that thoughts are things. And my thoughts began to change as I paid attention to them, and then my life began to change for the better.

Remembering that I could choose my thoughts was life altering once again!

Now truthfully choose or not, thoughts show up anyway. We all have had the experience of thinking the craziest things and wondering “where did that come from?” But when you start to pay attention and see the thoughts, then you get to choose which ones are worth keeping and nourishing and which to release and let go. This is the key and most of us don’t realize it.
I could choose what uplifted me or served me rather than the same old same old which was like a negative loop of things wrong either in the world or in me (what’s the difference anyway?)

All this required was for me to pay attention and become “mindful”. To stop myself during the day and notice where my attention is and what I’m thinking about.

Such a simple concept! What you think about you become! Go figure, huh?
This is ancient wisdom-Marcus Auerelius and Jesus and Buddha and countless others have told us this very thing.

But I will tell you honestly that even after all this time of knowing, believing and remembering this, oftentimes when I check in I still find I’m thinking something that is fear based or counterproductive.

But when I see this I stop it and let it go. I replace it with something useful and positive. I’ve developed a number of fallbacks- an inventory of things to pull from: thinking of someone I love, or a beautiful place or a song. Because the way the mind is, you need to give it something else when you want to shift a thought. So you need to be ready.

Sounds so easy, doesn’t it? Well I learned it’s not. But most things that are really worth doing usually are challenging, aren’t they?

This is a time when information is coming at all of us from all sides and everywhere, 24/7. Much of what is churned out through all the media is not worth much and not truly important, but it grabs us anyway. It’s not unlike junk food- empty calories and health costs but we still reach for it as comfort and diversion.

We find ourselves in a very challenging time. We need our strength and our wits and our hearts at such a time. This is not a time to be swept up or swept away-not with anger, or righteousness, or fear-not with diversion and the feelings of chaos that depletes. This is a time that calls for us to be well and of sound mind and thought.

To limit your intake of news may be a very good thing at this time. To unplug for periods of time may be what’s needed. To nurture good and positive thoughts we may need to tune out all the clatter and screaming and fear mongering. Don’t worry! it will still be there when you tune back in!

We were made for these times, none of us is here by accident and we each have a role to play.
The world is changed one thought at a time, one person at a time. Thoughts do matter and they do have power. And they connect us to a greater power, a collective power that is in all things and will return to us what we put into it.

To borrow from Michelle Obama, “when they go low, we go high”
This is not a time for low thoughts but high ones and great aspirations. Do not succumb to despair or anger. Do not submit. Do not lose hope. Do not wait for someone else to save you or the rest of us-just change your own thinking-elevate your thoughts through love, kindness, compassion, and beauty. Monitor what you feed your mind! Don’t underestimate the long-term effects of exposure to the barrage of negativity that comes our way everyday. Your life affects other lives in ways beyond what any of us can imagine. And our thoughts determine how we are in the world.

I know this about myself: If I am constantly tied into all that is wrong and all the anger, or if I continually rehash old thoughts and versions of these, I will repeat and not learn, only suffer, be bewildered, old and angry. I do not wish to suffer. Life is both beautiful and hard, you cannot separate these… but you can learn to see the beauty in the hard.

I am here today to remind you of what you already know but may have forgotten.

You do not need to be a world leader or someone famous to change the world. You just need to be the best version of you and I guarantee you will succeed.
Change your thinking and you will change your life.
Change your life and you will change the world.
We need to remind one another because we each do forget; it’s part of being human.

These are the words of James Allen:
“You will become as small as your controlling desire, as large as your dominant aspiration”

Harriet Tubman has said it so well: you have within you the strength, the patience and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world."