To Think Good Thoughts Requires Effort

I must miss Japan. Tonight for dinner I found myself in a Japanese restaurant here in Kunming, China which offered everything China is not: tranquility, impeccable service, quiet voices. What a nice reprise from the grime of China daily life! While gorging myself on lots of sushi and hot sake, I came across this excellent quote in James Clavell’s colossal novel Shogun, which is about the Shogun era (1600) in the Asian Saga (set in Japan — yes, I must really miss that wonderful country):

Always remember, child, that to think bad thoughts is really the easiest thing in the world. If you leave your mind to itself it will spiral you down into ever-increasing un-happiness. To think good thoughts, however, requires effort. This is one of the things that discipline — training — is about. So train your mind to dwell on sweet perfumes, the touch of this silk, tender raindrops against the shoji, the curve of this flower arrangement, the tranquility of dawn. Then, at length, you won’t have to make such a great effort and you will be of value to yourself, a value to our profession — and bring honor to our world…

Do you have a stash of "good thoughts" you turn to when the going gets rough? One image I have in my head is a white swan swimming gracefully across a pristine, blue lake. I have no idea how why that has stuck but I turn to it when I need a quiet mind.

Optimism is a habit. Practice it!

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