This morning I was walking down the same path I had walked down the night before and it suddenly dawned on me how different my thoughts were in the daylight. Last night, I'd been walking down the brick path late at night and I'd been slightly scared, walking fast, clutching my keys and occasionally looking over my shoulder. But when I ventured down the same path this morning, I was walking leisurely, strolling along and not once considering looking behind me. It dawned on me that that's the difference between night and day, between darkness and light. This is something that's probably happened to all of us at some point. We've walked somewhere at night and felt entirely differently when we walked down the very same path during the day. It's amazing what a little light, a little change of perspective, a little more ability to see where we're going, can do. To me, this is a great example of how our minds (coupled with external conditions) can transform the world. The path I was walking down was the exact same path. Same bricks. Same bushes lining it. Same distance from the road to the door. Nothing had changed overnight. Yet, now, in the morning light, I was seeing it differently.
And seeing this path differently made me think about the way I see my life differently too. When I realized what a difference the daylight made in my perception of the path, I really got to thinking about my own internal "day" and "night," the light and dark within my own mine. As I left the path and entered my building, my mind was flooded with questions. What if we applied this light and dark to the paths of our lives? What if we realized, really understood, that we could be walking down the same path and see it entirely differently? What if we realized that we actually have the ability to transform the blackness into light? To transform a situation with the light we shed on it?
Of course, these are not novel ideas. People have known, well, forever that the way we think about things -- how much metaphorical darkness or light we give to a situation -- impacts the world around us. Our minds are powerful, powerful things and can truly alter our worlds with our thoughts. We have the ability to distort things -- both in negative and positive ways -- and, more importantly, we can control how we distort them. We have the ability to cast more light or more darkness on a situation. For example, when walking alone at night, I can frighten myself terribly when I start thinking of all the dangerous things that could happen or revisiting terrifying situations I've heard about. Conversely, when walking along on a beautiful fall day, the sun shining brightly overhead, I can convince myself that I don't have a care in the world. Even I might be having a bad day, for just a few moments, the warm sunshine pouring down on me can transform my mood because it causes me to think of summer, warmth, happiness. My mind takes what it sees out in the world and transforms it, labeling it, giving it a good or bad (or neutral) connotation.
When I thought about how much my mind has the ability to transform the world around me, I began thinking about how I could increase the light in my life. I then realized that, when walking at night, I could have brought a flashlight with me, lighting up the path before me. If I had the power to (as I would in the figurative sense), I could install lighting along side the path, creating a well-lit walk. And these ideas tie in perfectly with what I'm always writing about the effort it takes to be a positive and present person. Both in the literal and figurative sense, it takes work, energy, and effort to have a path that's bathed in light. But, as anyone who has walked down a well-lit path wrapped in a feeling of safety knows, it's worth the effort if you are able to walk down the path unafraid.
If you're anything like me, you want to walk down your path unafraid. You want to walk down roads and paths that are well-lit. You want to see clearly and not be scared and feel safe. So how do you do that in a figurative sense? How do you make the path of your life a path that is lit up, inspiring contentment and drowning out fear while at the same time finding a balance between the darkness and the light? As we all know, you cannot live in bright, blinding light forever. Light is wonderful. It helps us to see and helps us to thrive and grow. But without darkness, we would be in a lot of trouble. We need the darkness as well as the light. We need a path that is lit the way many streets are -- the light and dark intertwined, allowing us to see without brightening the world to an unnatural state (unless, of course, you find that the roads you venture down happen to be in Time's Square...but even there, at night, there are patches of darkness). We need both the light and the dark in our lives, but there are ways we can make our paths brighter, ways we can make the road we're traveling down just a little bit more clear. And here are the 5 best ways to shed some light on that path of yours...
The 5 Best Ways to Shed Light on Your Path
- Bring your own source of light. As I mentioned above, if you're going to be heading down a dark path, bring a flashlight. What does this mean in a figurative sense? It means you have to create light where there is darkness. When you're faced with a difficult situation, find a way to shed light on it. Look at it from new angles, shine a bright light into the darkest corners, and look deep within yourself for a positive perspective. You don't have to wait around for someone to turn a light on or rescue you from the darkness. In fact, more often than not, light isn't just going to beam down on you for no reason. If you're on a dark path, you have to create light or, better yet, you have be the light. Don't wait for it; be it.
- Surround yourself with others. Ever notice how a dark path isn't nearly as scary when you're with other people? Walking down a dark road alone can be scary, but it's a lot less terrifying when you surround yourself with others. Life's kinda like that too. It can be scary and overwhelming at times, but when you surround yourself with people (especially positive, supportive people), the dark road before you seems a little brighter, a little easier to bear. I'm not exactly a people person, but I do know that I feel a lot safer on a dark road with a group of friends than I do when I'm on my own. Surrounding yourself with a great support system will help make even the most dimly lit path seem safe enough to walk down.
- Choose your route carefully. It would be nice if we could always walk in sunshine, but we know that's not the case. We will all have to walk in the dark sometimes, stumbling and unsure of where we're headed. But don't look down and give up. Instead, look around you and see if this really is the best path to be on. Sometimes all it takes is opening your eyes and looking around to see that nearby is another, brighter path, a path that would be much safer to venture down. Occasionally we're forced in one direction, but more often than not we have a choice. We can choose the path we want to go down. We can look for the brightest path, and, if we don't see a bright path, we can make our own paths.
- Imagine the best possible scenario. You're probably familiar with the Law of Attraction and, though I won't go into the details here, I find the concept fascinating. I really do believe that we can attract things with our thoughts. Therefore, if you think the path you're on is going to get darker and darker, it will. So imagine the best! Imagine the sky lightening and the sun peeking out of the clouds. Imagine bumping into a friendly group of people along your path. Don't think of all of the negative things that could happen or you will attract them to you. Instead, think of the wonderful things you'll encounter on your journey and you will encounter them.
- Be prepared for the dark spots. Even with all of your positive thinking and imagining the best, sometimes things don't go as well as planned. Sometimes the batteries in your flashlight die. Sometimes all of your friends have to head down a different path and you're on your own again. Don't despair! Instead, be prepared. If possible, it's ideal to have some self-defense skills under your belt. This works in a figurative situation too. If you can prepare yourself by strengthening your skills, you'll be more likely to travel safely down your path. Not sure what to work on? I'd suggest confidence. I've read that the more confident you look, the less likely you are to get attacked. Same thing goes for life. Be confident, believe in yourself, and you're a lot less likely to be brought down by others.
Life is filled with light and dark, perfectly lit paths and dark, winding roads. We're all aware of the good and the bad, but we don't always remember that we can make the most of the darkness and, in fact, we can make even the darkest times brighter if we choose to take any of the actions I've mentioned above. You, me, we all have the ability to shed light on our own paths, to make the roads we're traveling down brighter. And, awesomely enough, we also have the opportunity to shed light on the paths of others as well. Give some thought to how you can brighten your own path and how you can give others a little bit of that bright light too.
How do you create light when walking down a dark path?
Do you shed light on the paths of others? How so?