Tag Archives: positive thinking

Manifesting your desires

I find it interesting that there are a lot of new-age concepts out there about manifesting your intentions and positive thinking your way to the life you want, and far less about the process of making your life. There are times when positive thinking helps – visualising the way you want to handle a situation to help combat nerves is a good example. There’s only so far positive thinking can take you, and when it comes to manifesting things, if you don’t do it, who will?

Working with your own through process is a good first step towards making change. You have to picture it, dream it, shape it before you can put your will into the world. Magical thinking tends to be a good deal clearer about backing up the magic with relevant action. If you want the perfect job for you, there’s little point doing spells if you aren’t also filling in some job applications and doing some networking and getting the relevant qualifications.

It is so easy to miss the power of what we manifest in small ways on a daily basis. Body language and tone of voice. Small choices to do and not do. Little things we tell ourselves in our heads when we aren’t repeating the positivity mantras.

We don’t get to decide the course of our lives in every way – everyone else’s ideas, intentions and efforts impact on us. But, the more deliberately we live, the more we undertake to manifest what we value, the better. Which quickly flags up another interesting thing. You can’t simply choose to manifest wealth, or fame – you can pretend, but fake it until you make it is often a route to debt in this context. You can manifest love, generosity, patience, kindness, you can manifest your spirituality in all kinds of ways. You get to choose who you are, one action to the next, one word to the next.

The decision to live kindly, thoughtfully and well, from one breath to the next makes for a rich and interesting life. In terms of what we experience, how we choose to feel about things, what we choose to dwell on and prioritise has the most influence on us. If your basic needs are met, then the choice to experience joy and abundance is already in your grasp. Many of us would be much happier people if we stopped obsessing about how to be younger, richer, thinner and more popular, and learned how to take joy in what we have.

Cautious affirmations for awkward people

The idea of affirmations is that you regularly repeat a strong, positive statement, and in repeating it you become it. The trouble with this kind of affirmation is the bigger the gap between your disbelief and the enthusiasm of the statement, the harder it is not to have it feel like an exercise in futility and self mockery. Having tried it, that reaction doesn’t help, and the faster it becomes unbearable the less useful it is.

I can’t stand in front of mirrors and tell myself I’m beautiful. I barely cope with mirrors, I find looking at myself uncomfortable. Saying ‘I am beautiful’ a few times every day would be distressing to me. So, what alternatives are there? Below is a list of body statements that I have used repeatedly and found helpful. They aren’t very ambitious, nor fantastically positive and that’s part of why I can work with them in the first place. My cynicism is not kicked off. If I can establish these thoughts as a baseline, I can be more functional and less distressed by myself as a physical presence. That’s enough.

I am ok.

I am tolerable to other people. I can be accepted.

I have a soft animal body, just like everyone else does, and being a mammal is ok.

What this body feels is real and allowed and I respect those feelings.

I am allowed to rest if I need to. Resting is a good idea. I am allowed to rest when I am tired or in pain.

I have a value aside from how I look.

I am a finite resource. I have limits, boundaries, edges. These limits are what stop me from being a pile of squidge. I do not have to go through life acting like I am a limitless resource capable of doing anything. It is a good idea to be realistic and sustainable.

I can’t do everything and this is ok.

Much of the time my body is good enough to do a lot of the things I want to do. This is actually good enough.

In theory, an affirmation is supposed to be wholly positive. So statements like ‘I am beautiful, I am worthy of love, I am a joy to behold’ would be more in the usual style of the approach. However, if you’re starting from a place of really not feeling good, those blasts of positivity can be too much. It may be more useful to acknowledge the problems. Trying to get an upswing of some sort into each repeated phrase is important. The key ideas to work with is that things might not be as bad as you think they are, that self-judgements can be let go of a bit, and to draw attention to the bits of you that you can be ok with.

‘I have pretty hair and I like my clothes choices’ may be a useful thought  if you can honestly hold that. It may not tackle deep body issues, but it creates a place of acceptance and ok-ness, and that’s a great comfort improver. If you need to get out of headspaces full despair and self-loathing then a more cautious, less bombastic kind of affirmation may be the way to go.

Exploring the limits of positive thinking

Positive thinking is all too often sold to us as the solution to all life’s troubles. It’s an approach that has some utility, but if we don’t recognise its limitations, it becomes a form of tyranny, a method for victim blaming and a way of hurting people who are already hurting a lot. The idea is of course that a positive attitude changes everything; with exams and job interviews cited as examples of how this will work. And yes, in exams and jobs interviews a positive attitude will help you. In war zones, with a knife at your throat, starving, or watching a loved one die, it’s not just useless but insulting.

There is much to be said for asking whether good, or potential good exists within a situation. In times of mild upset and modest difficulty, the challenge can be a blessing in disguise and a positive outlook can bring that to the fore. However, if a situation is truly hideous and doomed, a positive outlook can keep you slogging away when you should be running away. It can deny you the space for needful emotional processes – when important things are lost to us, we need to grieve first before we try and move on.

If there’s no good to be found in a situation, then we waste energy looking for it, or we delude ourselves trying to manufacture it, and this doesn’t help in the slightest. Further, the person who is undertaking to think this way may be less alert to dangers, and to strategies that suit the scenario. The eventual, inevitable realisation that it really is hopeless may lead to a more profound despair than the less optimistic person will ever face. An approach of planning for the worst while hoping for the best, for example, can give you a much more realistic grasp of a situation’s many possibilities, and prepare you for more eventualities.

If you can solve all of your problems by taking a more positive approach to them, then the problems aren’t that big to begin with. It’s worth noting that the greatest exponents of this notion tend to be healthy, affluent, white, western and generally privileged. If your problems stem from a sense of entitlement, a lack of gratitude, and a ‘poor little me’ mindset then yes, positive thinking can save you. But only then.

If there is something you can make the best of, looking for it will help. It is possible to be happy even while being really quite poor, if you have an attitude that allows you to find the good. Material wealth is not, after all, what happiness is all about. If your essential needs for food, shelter, warmth and safety are not being met, no amount of positivity will transform that into a good situation –practical change needs to be sought.

Perhaps the place we most need positive thinking, is around the idea that things can change. Positivity applied to what we’ve got, if what we’ve got is awful, can lead to cognitive dissonance. We have to be realistic about how things are. Positive thinking applied to what we might be able to do, is a whole other game. How many people who could change their lives, communities and environments don’t act because they don’t think it will make a difference? All the people who don’t vote, protest, petition, or take action? All the people who accept what’s being done to them out of the belief that nothing better is possible. Believe that better is possible, and the lies of politicians and the gains of big business appear in a very different light.

When it comes to who holds the power, thinking positive about what you’ve got allows that to stay just as it is. Thinking positive about what we might collectively and individually do, has the power to change things. Positive thoughts alone are never enough. We need positive actions.

Try harder want less

You only get out what you put in, and life is what you make of it, right? So when things go wrong, when I’m unhappy, the answer has always been do more, try harder, give more, be more flexible and accepting, be more grateful, ask for less, want less. It takes a lot to bring me to giving up on something, or someone and generally if I do, I’ll just swing round and start applying the try harder and want less approach some other place. Give more and be more grateful for all that there is to be grateful for, all the small beauties and modest good things. And if that fails, be glad it’s not worse.

I notice it’s a way of approaching things that makes no room for a number of options. At no point does ‘try harder, give more, want less’ make it possible, much less ok to say ‘I am drowning’. Someone please help me, someone please do some of the doing so that I can draw breath. At no point does try more want less allow me to comfortably say I really am too tired and in too much pain today to do the things. It does not have room in it to ask people to go easier on me for a while, and there is not much scope for asking for help, either. Flagging up when something is hurting me, or more than I can bear, is something I find really hard to do.

Give more want less does not make me open to things flowing towards me. It leaves little space for asking what would make me happy. As a person who cycles round depression on a pretty regular basis, I have trouble holding the thought that my being happy is in any way a relevant issue. If it’s a side effect of something else, all well and good, and the appearance of happiness helps people around me to be more comfortable, so that at least is important.

Give more, want less. As though there are no limits on this, no practical, physical bodily needs that can’t be ignored if they turn out to be inconvenient. No demand on my energy that is unreasonable. This autumn I hit a place of not having any more to give. It was not an amusing experience. I kept pushing and trying, and couldn’t stop crying as a consequence. I hit a limit. I’m still limping along, trying to find other places where I can give, organise my time and energy better. Give more efficiently, give more wisely seemed like the way to go.

Want less, because my body wanting things has always made me uncomfortable. Food especially, but affection too, and I’ve been shamed for both along the way. I carry the belief that ideally I wouldn’t want anything, able to exist on air and not requiring any care or maintenance from anyone else. I am aware that being alive and human is not compatible with this, and that to want to want nothing is the most outrageous and unreasonable want of all.

At the moment I can’t do anything useful with this. I know why it exists, I know what it is there to protect me from, I haven’t got to a place of being able to own that, as yet. But I can name this part of it, on the offchance it isn’t just me. One of the things I have learned is that things we think are fine when we inflict them on ourselves do not look so reasonable when we see someone else doing them, and that way lies a chance at escape and freedom. One thing I can say is that it is not a way of living I would recommend to anyone else, it does not fix things or make things better, in any reliable way. There comes a point where all those positive living and thinking ideas about gratitude, getting out what you put in, and the like just turn into a big stick to beat yourself with, and that’s not very positive at all, it’s just self-loathing with a nice mask on it.

Beyond positive thinking

In which a depressed person talks about positive thinking and why that isn’t always helpful…

I know the theories. Positive thoughts make us more open to better outcomes. We are more likely to act for our own good if we feel positive, and that most toxic of ideas ‘like attracts like’. And while it is sometimes true that if you act confident, cheerful, upbeat and positive sometimes you can ‘fake it till you make it’ and sometimes it helps get things done, it’s not always true.

This whole logic assumes you have a choice, and in this reveals why it doesn’t work. Many people who do not suffer from depression assume it is a sort of sadness or loss of enthusiasm, and if you’d only pull yourself together and get on with it, you would be fine. If you occasionally suffer from mild unhappiness, boredom, lack of enthusiasm, and get a bit down about things but find you can turn yourself around with some good old positive thinking, then you are not experiencing depression. What depressed people experience is nothing like this, which is what causes the problems.

I’m a big believer in ideas of free will and choice. I also have an understanding of limits. I would not try and run a marathon with a broken leg. I would not jump out of a tree and expect to fly by force of will. I do not expect a depressed mind to be able to harness the powers of positive thinking in order to heal itself.

A brain is an array of cells and chemical processes. The way we shape our thoughts affects the physical structures and the chemistry, and is in turn affected by these things. Trying to use your broken mind to fix your broken mind is about as easy as trying to use a broken knife to fix the broken knife. If your mind isn’t working, and you tell yourself that you *should* be able to use positive thinking to overcome it, and you *should* be able to pray and recover and you *should* be able to repeat a mantra that will set it all right and these things make no bloody odds at all, well, there’s another failure to add to the list of things you couldn’t do today and I promise, that won’t help you one bit. If you can’t think positive thoughts, this probably a facet of your depression and there is nothing to apologise for.

A broken mind is a symptom. It may be that you have wonky brain chemistry, and that an intervention would help. I like St John’s Wort. Sunlight also makes a lot of odds. You may need a re-set in the form of more rest, your diet may have let you down, you may have been ill, there may have been pain. Perhaps you have grief that you need to give time to, a problem to solve, or pressures from which you need some respite. Tackle it at this level and you get some relief. You probably won’t feel better all at once, but you’ll also be more open to the idea that time for healing is required – if you aren’t looking for magical cures, you won’t expect unfeasible things of yourself.

If you treat mental illness like physical illness, it works better. Be kind to it. Tuck it up in bed with a nice book. Ply it with soothing drinks and comfort food. Take it for gentle walks and show it nice views and adorable kittens, and wait for it to heal. Give it the same time you would a bad cold, and if that doesn’t work, give it the time you would give to a broken limb or a gaping wound.

A head is not so different from a body really.

The only positive thought you really need is to hold the idea that things can get better, and that with time and care you can recover. Maybe not today. Maybe not next week. The demand to be well can be tyrannical, and if you are depressed, actually a lot more harmful than helpful. Positive thinking has its place, but it should never be a stick to beat people with.

Think Positive!

Or don’t. There is no tidy, one size fits all and solves everything answer to anything, ever. That assertion is one of my key bits of dogma, along with ‘shit happens’ and ‘there are always choices of some sort.’ Positive thinking can be really helpful. It can carry you through challenges, inspire you to do better, it can nourish, uplift and enable. You probably know that because the productive power of positive thought is rather self announcing. It may require effort and minor discomfort, but when it works for you, the payoff always makes that feel reasonable.

There are times when positive thinking doesn’t work. I‘ve got some examples from my own life which I can talk about easily, but no doubt there are other forms and manifestations out there, too. Sometimes, positive thinking is a trap with really sharp and pointy teeth.

Looking for the best in things, and in people, being upbeat and hopeful that things will get better, and that everything happens for a good reason and that there are life lessons to learn… I tried that in one context. I tried it for years, and it helped me do the following. I was able to stay positive about the way in which my life was getting ever narrower. I was able to work with the increasing demands being placed on my body, and on my emotional self. I learned how to roll with the knock backs, the put downs, and the physical pain. I saw the best, and I encouraged it, and in so doing I made it really easy for all the shit around me to continue. I was so busy being positive that I did not challenge over the negatives, protect my boundaries, deal with the massive problems in my life and I was not happy.

Only when I let myself admit that it had all gone to hell did I make the choice to get out, and only on getting out of that situation did my life stop going downhill exponentially and start improving. Sometimes, a hearty dose of negativity, failure, and giving up will save your life.

Then there’s the one that I pick up more casually, in the flows of online conversation. Those friendly ‘think good thoughts and you will attract good stuff to you. Be positive and you will heal. Your own negative energy is what’s getting you down and making you sick.’ I am not (I am encouraged to think) to speak of the stuff that depresses, frightens or ails me because that’s dwelling on the negative and will bring more negative energy into my life. The reason it has fallen apart for me before is clearly that I’m not positive enough (see above, if only I’d tried harder!). But when you’ve given your all and it wasn’t enough, and your body is just plain ill, and you need the human relief of speaking about the things that hurt… other people waving the power of positive thinking can be a bloody alienating experience.

Which is interesting, when you stop and think about it. The whole New Age think positive attract good stuff philosophy is supposed to be inherently good. It’s supposed to make everything better. How can something that is good have the effect of alienating, depressing and feeling like an attack if you are in a vulnerable place? The measure of a philosophy is what it actually does, and if a big part of what it does is knock people down, then it’s not a benevolent philosophy, no matter what it claims. So here’s The Real Secret.

Shit happens.

Sometimes we bring that upon ourselves a bit, sometimes we don’t.

Sometimes we can fix it, sometimes the best answer is to quit.

Some things you will get over in your own time, others less so. Your attitude may have a role in this, but there are no guarantees. It is ok not to get over things if you are, for whatever reason, not able to get over them.

There are always choices. Sometimes none of those choices are good ones.

Sometimes there is no win, but only the person who quits is definitely beaten. Sometimes quitting is the only thing that can save you.

Shit happens, because the universe is a big place with a lot of different stuff going on and most of it isn’t personally aimed at you, whether that shows up as good stuff or disaster,

Shit happens, and when we are gentle with ourselves and each other and don’t use philosophy as an offensive weapon, the shit is a tad easier to bear.

Benevolent Challenging

One of the consequences of suffering intermittently from depression, is that sometimes my perceptions are wonky. There are days when I can only see the bad stuff, the dangers, the trouble. I’m not especially paranoid, I don’t tend to imagine problems that do not exist. It’s about my ability to see an overall balance and to be able to find and make good bits amongst the hard stuff.

I am blessed with a number of people who make it their business to challenge me, when I get like this. They do so warmly, reminding me of alternative perspectives, of things I’ve done well or could feel good about, and that input reliably helps me get back on top of things. Sometimes it takes a while. I value that gentle challenging as an expression of care, and if you’re one of the people who knows how to poke in kindly, timely ways, thank you. It makes a huge difference.

However, there are other schools of thought around how best to challenge people. There are those who will see a person struggling and turn up with helpful suggestions like these. Stop making a fuss, you’re not as badly off as someone who has some other problem. You just need to be more positive and it will all be fine. You are being ridiculous and selfish. You are attention seeking and vamping energy from other people. Quit whining and fix it!

The trouble is, this approach assumes that the problems are trivial and fixable. People don’t always express distress over the real problem – if your parents have dementia, maybe you would feel disloyal about talking in public about the loss of dignity and the challenges. Maybe a small problem breaks you, and you get kicked by these fake do-gooders for making a fuss, because they do not know and lack the imagination to consider they may be missing some things. Sheer weight of many small problems can also break a person, and fixing a thousand issues is a large, intimidating task. If you’re hurting, you are hurting and some other person saying they’d be fine in your shoes, solves nothing.

Problem two is that if you are depressed, your self esteem is low, and your confidence is low. Someone turns up and tells you that you are stupid and useless to feel this way. For the person who was suicidal already, this confirmation that you’re a waste of space can take you closer to not being able to function. Many suicidal people do not feel able to talk about it, and fear of being called melodramatic and attention seeking certainly doesn’t help. People who can’t talk are more likely to die.

What really gets me, is that the people who are in many ways most damaging to people in pain, claim to be believers in positive thinking. They claim to value optimism and a ‘good’ approach to life. In order to maintain this comfortable bubble, it is necessary to avoid hearing anything that might burst it. It’s easy to feel positive if you are snug, secure and privileged, and hard to hear that this may be more about luck and privilege than your innate worth. If you are willing to hear when others are suffering, you might feel some moral obligation to do something about it. If you can rubbish and dismiss them, your world view is in tact, you still feel morally superior and you don’t have to do anything at all! You can even demand positive feedback for having been so good and useful in telling them how it really is.

My patience with this is at an all-time low. If you genuinely care about positivity, you respond to pain by trying to encourage, uplift, support and enable people. I’ve seen it done beautifully by people whose belief in the power of being positive is not a cover for being shitty. It’s very easy to subvert the language of positivity into something destructive, and it’s worth watching for the people who do that. Generally, anyone who feels the need to tell you they were doing you a favour and you should be grateful, was probably not doing you a favour, and is not worth taking too seriously.

The problems of positive thinking

I see a lot of pieces online about how we can improve our lives with more positive thinking. Practice gratitude. When you are angry with someone, look at how you are projecting your negativity onto them. Minimise your problems. Love everybody. Now, if the only problems in your life exist because you’re a miserable, negative sort of person who projects this onto others, feels no gratitude and has no love in their heart, this may in fact work. In some situations, it can get you killed.

The trouble with glib positive thinking prompts, is that they do not have any nuance, or any capacity for detail. They also make you wholly responsible for your life experience. Yes, you can change any experience by changing how you feel about it. If you are being bullied at work, or beaten at home, you can make this easier to bear by feeling grateful for even having a job or a partner. You can tell yourself that it’s not so bad, and that you are creating the problem by projecting your negativity. You can love them unconditionally. This will destroy you, one way or another.

Then there are the positive thinking ideas that reassure us that we’ve chosen this life-experience for a reason. There is something we must learn. And ‘God’ would not have given us more than we can deal with. Fantastic, not only is you life awful, but you chose this before you were born, and your deity thinks you can take it. Again, people who stay in dangerous situations can and do end up dead. Every time I read an assertion that the challenges are here for us to find loving answers to, I want to scream. Some people, if you stay around and love them, will take you apart, metaphorically, literally… Sometimes the only lesson to learn is how to get out as safely and quickly as possible. It’s worth being very careful about this one, because leaving a dangerous situation can trigger rage, and statistically you are most likely to die at the point when you try to escape. Help and a good plan are essential.

New Age fluff is fine if the biggest problems in your life are that can’t have everything you desire, your ego is not stroked enough, and you have no idea how to be satisfied with what you’ve got. If your problems are first world issues of excess luxury and too much advertising then yes, those positive thinking prompts may be good for you, and won’t do any harm. If you go to bed afraid of the person who lies next to you, then lying there in the darkness trying to figure out why you are projecting this negative emotion onto them, will keep you there, and keep you hurting and frightened. If you’re being shouted at, if your days are a barrage of criticism, mockery, and humiliation, if there are normal things you do not dare do because you fear the consequences… stay away from the New Age noises. You do not need more love and patience. You do not need to accept that you chose this life course and have work to do. You do not need to buy into the idea that it is somehow your life’s purpose to deal with a person who makes you want to die.

Every time you read some statement about changing your thinking to improve your life, please, please add a mental footnote: This only applies if you are not dealing with a psychopath. This is only true if you are not surrounded by assholes, by petty, mean-hearted gits, or by those who enjoy knocking other people down.

The power of (not so) positive thinking

There is a school of thought that encourages positive thinking, as the best way of attracting good energy into your life. The person with the positive outlook will see the opportunities and grasp them. The person who believed they can succeed will have a go in the first place. Like most excessive simplifications, it’s not actually of much use. People who go around expecting things to go well for them will spend a lot of time let down, disappointed and potentially confused. Sure, a positive attitude may help you take the leap into the unknown, but that can also lead to falling flat on your face.

People who practice optimism can end up needing to also practice cognitive dissonance, in order to deal with the way experience fails to tally with expectation. Pessimists, on the other hand either get to be a bit smug (didn’t I say that was doomed?) or pleasantly surprised when things go better than anticipated. The downside to pessimism is that it can reduce the urge to get in there and have a go. It’s not so easy as a pessimist to work up the belief that you can make a real difference.

Nature does not teach us optimism. Nature teaches us that everything dies. Many of those things will die in sudden, violent ways as a consequence of something else wanting to eat them. Nature shows us that no amount of positive thinking will stop winter being a hard time of year for most living things, and very hot summers from being potentially lethal, too. Nature shows us the unexpected arrival of earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, floods, droughts and famines. A positive attitude and a belief in your own ability to survive will help you there, but it won’t make the disasters go away.

The person who anticipate shit can plan for it. Strategies of avoidance, mitigation and so forth are available if you firmly believe the universe will dump on you every now and then. It comes as no surprise, when, like Eyeore, we find a ‘well, that’s just what would happen’. There’s less trauma in it going wrong predictably.

If it’s all lovely, all part of the grand plan, the best imaginable world… if it all happens for a reason and the gods never send you stuff they know you can’t take, if the universe is love, then when it goes wrong, either you need a very twisted take on what ‘love’ means or your reality takes a pasting, too. If you see existence as neutral, and potentially hostile, then you can just accept the horrible stuff. It fits with your reality. That doesn’t make you blind to the good stuff, it doesn’t undermine the love, beauty and wonder when they manifest, but sets them in context. Understanding the crap can help you hone an appreciation of that which is not crap, too. If you don’t have to pretend it’s all love and light, it is easier to recognise and honour the bits that really are about love and light, and therefore also easier to work with them in more meaningful ways.

Druidry and magic

There isn’t a great tradition of spell working in Druidry. Much of the magic is about inner transformation and the natural consequence of ritual and communion with nature. Magic is a process that happens to us as much as something we might instigate. Mostly. There’s the magic of captivating and inspiring people – a big part of the business of being a Bard. There’s the magic of experiencing the world in a profound and awe inspiring way. We request the presence and blessings of spirits, or deities sometimes, but we don’t command or demand.

Part, if not all of the reason this is so, is philosophical. If you go through life trying to disappear all the bumps and challenges, where is your scope for heroic virtue and learning? You can’t be heroic if everything is easy! The Celts had a heroic culture, they celebrated the characters who faced up to challenges. We are here to learn, and to live, and much of life is challenging, awkward and less than perfectly comfortable. In learning to love what is imperfect and being open to not getting our own way, we learn how to do a better job of being people.

I know I don’t really know what’s for the best. Sometimes what I thought would be really good doesn’t happen, and it opens the door to something I would never have dared to imagine. Being open to what comes from outside, rather than trying to control every aspect of our lives, can often take us further and give us more. Most of the time I would never even consider trying to magic an outcome that I really wanted, in case it caused me to miss something that would have turned out better.
I’m interested in the ‘magic’ of positive thinking and inner calm, as day to day issues. There’s often a fine line between magic and psychology (as Terry Pratchett fans will know, Headology rules.) While I don’t believe we entirely create our experiences, we have a lot of room for manoeuvre in how we choose to interpret and understand. Additionally, what we bring to a situation will heavily inform what we get out of it.

The other reason to leave magic alone is that it’s a messy and unruly thing (assuming you believe in it, and I admit that I do.) The more complex a situation, the more variables, people involved, possible outcomes, the harder it is to work out what would need to change in order to give you what you want. Ethically speaking, seeking the outcome without considering the consequences is totally off limits, for me. Magic is generally understood to require focus and precision, so the woollier and more confusing the situation, the less scope you have to begin with.

Now and then though, life throws up a situation where the issues are pretty simple, and there’s only one tolerable outcome. I would imagine that finding you have cancer would create one of those. Most of the time life does not hand over such clear cut win-lose scenarios, but when it does, perhaps that is the time to dust off the wand and start composing the demands you need to make of the universe.

My mother always said that magic is what you do when you can’t do anything else. It’s also what you do when you absolutely cannot afford to have anything else happen. If nothing else, there’s a bit of Headology here, holding the belief that you can win gives you a better shot at winning than falling into a pit of despair does.

Sometimes, the universe seems to conspire to make things work out after all. I don’t generally believe that the universe is an inherently benevolent place that has our best interests at heart, but I think sometimes it might be persuaded to act that way. And when you get to that sort of point, there’s little to lose in trying.