7 Great Mental Laws
There are a few great laws that govern all thinking, just as there are a few fundamental laws in chemistry, in physics, and in mechanics, for example. We know that thought control is the Key of Destiny, and in order to learn thought control we have to know and understand these laws, just as the chemist has to understand the laws of chemistry, and the electrician has to know the laws of electricity.
One of the great mental laws is the Law of Substitution. This means that the only way to get rid of a certain thought is to substitute another one for it. You cannot dismiss a thought directly. You can do so only by substituting another one for it. On the physical plane this is not the case. You can drop a book or a stone by simply opening your hand and letting it go; but with thought this will not work. If you want to dismiss a negative thought, the only way to do so is to think of something positive and constructive. It is as though in order, let us say, to drop a pencil, it were necessary to put a pen or a book or a stone into your hand, when the pencil would fall away.
If I say to you, "Do not think of the Statue of Liberty", of course, you immediately think of it. If you say, "I'm not going to think of the Statue of Liberty", that is thinking of it. But now, having thought of it, if you become interested in something else, say, by turning on the radio, you forget all about the Statue of Liberty -- and this is a case of substitution.
When negative thoughts come to you, do not fight them, but think of something positive. Preferably think of God; but if that is difficult at the moment, think of any positive or constructive idea, and then the negative thought will fade out.
It sometimes happens that negative thoughts seem to besiege you in such force that you cannot overcome them. That is what is called a fit of depression, or a fit of worry, or perhaps even a fit of anger. In such a case the best thing is to go to a good movie or play, or read an interesting book, say a good novel or biography or travel book, or something of the kind. If you sit down to fight the negative tide you will probably succeed only in amplifying it.
Turn your attention to something quite different, refusing steadfastly to think or rehearse the difficulty, and, later on, after you have completely gotten away from it, you can come back with confidence and handle it by spiritual treatment. "I say unto you that you resist not evil" (Matthew 5:39)
Another of the great mental laws is the Law of Relaxation. In all mental working effort defeats itself. The more effort you make the less will your result be. This of course is just the opposite of what we find on the physical plane, but it will not surprise us because we know that in many cases the laws of mind are the reverse of the laws of matter. On the physical plane, usually the more effort we make the greater the result. The harder you press a drill the faster it will go through a plank. The harder you hammer a nail the sooner does it go into the wall. The harder you work in digging the ground the sooner do you have a ditch. The exact opposite, however, is the case with thought.
Any attempt at mental pressure is foredoomed to failure because the moment tension begins, the mind stops working creatively, and just runs along on whatever the old habit pattern is. When you try to force things mentally, when you try to hurry mentally, you simply stop your creative power. To enable your mind to become creative again you must un-tense it by consciously relaxing.
In all mental working be relaxed, gentle, and unhurried for effort defeats itself.
"In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength". (Isaiah 30:15).
As soon as the subconscious mind accepts any idea, it immediately begins trying to put it into effect. It uses all its resources (and these are far greater than is commonly supposed) to that end. It uses every bit of knowledge that you have ever collected, and most of which you have totally forgotten, to bring about its purpose. It mobilizes the many mental powers that you possess and most of which you never consciously use. It draws on the unlimited energy of the race mind. It lines up all the laws of nature as they operate both inside and outside of you, to get its way. Sometimes it succeeds in its purpose immediately. Sometimes it takes a little time; sometimes it takes a long time, depending on the difficulties to be overcome; but if the thing is not utterly impossible, the subconscious will bring it about -- once it accepts the idea.
This law is true for both good and bad ideas. This law, when used negatively, brings sickness, trouble, and failure; and when used positively, brings healing, freedom, and success. The Bible teaching does not say that harmony is inevitable no matter what we do -- that is Pollyanna -- it teaches that harmony is inevitable when our thoughts are positive, constructive, and kindly.
From this it follows that the only thing we have to do is to get the subconscious to accept the idea that we want reproduced, and the laws of nature will do the rest; will bring forth the healthy body, the harmonious circumstances, the successful career. We give the orders -- the subconscious mind does the work
Practice makes perfect. This familiar proverb embodies one of the great laws of human nature and -- being a law -- it is never under any circumstance broken. To become proficient in any field you must practice. There is simply no achievement without practice and the more practice, provided it is done intelligently, the greater will the proficiency be and the sooner will it be attained. This is true in the study of music, in the study of a foreign language, in learning to swim or skate or ski or fly. It is true in every conceivable branch of human endeavor. Practice is the price of proficiency.
In business life and in any kind of management or administration, experience is the form that practice takes, and here again it is practice that makes perfect. That is why, other things being equal, an older person is usually to be selected for responsible positions rather than a younger.
In metaphysics the effects of this law are particularly striking. Thought control is entirely a matter of intelligent practice. And true religion may well be summed up as the Practice of the Presence of God. But note that I said intelligent. Violent forcing is not intelligent practice, nor is monotonous plodding.
Practice is the secret of attainment. We might paraphrase Danton and say practice! ... and more practice!! ... and still more practice!!!
"Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only" (James 1:22)
Every thought is made up of two factors, knowledge and feeling. A thought consists of a piece of knowledge with a charge of feeling, and it is the feeling alone that gives power to the thought. No matter how important or magnificent the knowledge content may be, if there is no feeling attached to it nothing will happen. On the other hand, no matter how unimportant or insignificant the knowledge content may be, if there is a large charge of feeling something will happen. This universal law is symbolized in nature by the bird. A bird has two wings, neither more nor less, and they must both be functioning before he can fly.
It makes no difference whether the knowledge content is correct or not as long as you believe it to be correct. Remember that it is what we really believe that matters. A report about something may be quite untrue, but if you believe it, it has the same effect upon you as if it were true; and that effect again will depend upon the quantity of feeling attached to it.
When we understand this Law we see the importance of accepting only the Truth concerning life in every phase of our experience. Indeed, this is why Jesus said, "Know the Truth and the Truth will set you free." Now we realize why negative feelings (fear, criticism, etc.) are so destructive, and a sense of peace and good will is such a power for healing.
What you think upon grows. This is an Eastern maxim, and it sums up neatly the greatest and most fundamental of all the Laws of Mind. What you think upon grows. What you think upon grows. Whatever you allow to occupy your mind you magnify in your life. Whether the subject of your thoughts be good or bad, the law works and the condition grows. Any subject that you keep out of your mind tends to diminish in your life, because what you do not use atrophies.
The more you think about your indigestion or your rheumatism, the worse it will become. The more you think of yourself as healthy and well, the better will your body be.
The more you think about lack, bad times, etc., the worse will your business be; and the more you think of prosperity, abundance, and success, the more of these things will you bring into your life.
The more you think about your grievances or the injustices that you have suffered, the more such trials will you continue to receive; and the more you think of the good fortune you have had, the more good fortune will come to you.
This is the basic, fundamental, all-inclusive Law of Mind, and actually all psychological and metaphysical teaching is little more than a commentary upon this.
What you think upon grows (Philippians 4:8)
It is an unbreakable mental law that you have to forgive others if you want to demonstrate over your difficulties and to make any real spiritual progress. The vital importance of forgiveness may not be obvious at first sight, but you may be sure that it is not by mere chance that every spiritual teacher from Jesus Christ downward has insisted so strongly upon it.
You must forgive injuries, not just in words, or as a matter of form; but sincerely, in your heart -- and that is the long and the short of it. You do this, not for the other person's sake, but for your own sake. It will make no difference to him (unless he happens to set a value upon your forgiveness), but it will make a tremendous difference to you. Resentment, condemnation, anger, desire to see someone punished are things that rot your soul, no matter how cleverly you may be disguising them. Such things, because they have a much stronger emotional content than anyone suspects, fasten your troubles to you with rivets. They fetter you to many other problems which actually have nothing whatever to do with the original grievances themselves.
Forgiveness does not mean that you have to like the delinquent or want to meet him; but that you must wish him well. Of course you must not make a "door mat" of yourself. Of course you must not allow yourself to be imposed upon, or ill treated. You must fight your own battles and fight them with prayer, justice, and good will. It does not matter whether you can forget the injury or not, although if you cease to rehearse it you probably will -- but you must forgive.