A World of Possibilities
Possibility thinking infuses our lives with hope, power, and faith, motivating us to look for turning points in seemingly daunting life situations, says Jamuna Rangachari
If there is a term more empowering than ‘positive thinking,’ it is ‘possibility thinking.’ While positive thinking makes us look at the brighter side of life, possibility thinking is a more dynamic aspect of it. It makes us aware of the hidden potential and possibilities in an apparently negative situation.
There is nothing more empowering than possibility thinking, especially if you are stuck in a situation which you cannot change. As you delve into possibility thinking, you are compelled to pull yourself out of the quagmire of your current mental and emotional state and access a higher frequency of consciousness. A place where things happen.
Many of us spend almost our entire lives wondering instead of trying to work on possibilities. Possibility thinking infuses us with a positive feeling about life. It inspires us to believe we can achieve the impossible if we just believed in our own selves.
Says, Richard E Hamon, US-based marriage, relationships, and life coach, in his blog, Happy Relationships:
While it is important to think positively, it is equally important to go beyond positive thinking and to become aware of the possibilities in every situation, viewing life as more than a struggle to survive, as an exciting array of challenges and opportunities. It takes mental discipline to find the possibilities in a bad situation, but they are there.
If we see the possibilities, we can view the situation in a more positive manner. By constructing more than one perspective or viewpoint, we can realise the potential in any given situation and open the door to greater flexibility and more constructive action.
Possibility thinking starts with the conviction that you make a difference, that you are capable of doing greater and greater things. Searching for possibilities sometimes involves the mental skill of finding options and possibilities that may be right under one’s nose. The simpler they are, the more likely they will elude us.
These possibilities become apparent when we reconfigure our interpretation of a situation or look at an old situation with new eyes, using an opportunistic thinking style.
I first heard about possibility thinking in the late Robert Schuller’s book, Tough times never last, tough people do. He often talked about possibility thinking as opposed to probability thinking. He said, “If one resorts to possibility thinking, one can gauge the outcome in terms of ‘what can be’; while the one who is preoccupied with a probability approach will compel themself to anticipate the outcome as ‘what may be.’ ”
A burning example of this ideology was his own daughter, Carol Schuller. Robert recounts in his book:
When we arrived from Korea to Carol’s bedside in Sioux City, Iowa, after her motorcycle accident, I was shocked. She lay in her bed in intensive care. Her body was bruised, broken, and disfigured. But her spirits were whole and healthy. On the long trip back, I had searched for my opening line. What would my first words to her be? She solved the problem by speaking first: “I know why it happened, Dad. God wants to use me to help others who have been hurt.”
Carol was the epitome of possibility thinking. Even in her darkest hour, she could think of the possibility of her pain being useful for the society.
Robert continues to recount her journey of strengthening her spirit that made her transition from a ‘handicapped’ member of the family to someone who took part in games in school.
Once Robert was invited with family as a guest on an American-Hawaiian steamship on a one-week cruise of the Hawaiian Islands. On this cruise, it was customary on the last night to have a talent show in which any of the passengers could participate. Carol said she would take part.
On the night of the talent show, the author was with his wife in the lounge, along with six hundred other people. The talent show was scheduled to take place on the stage in the big, glorified cocktail lounge. The acts that were performed that night were typical of amateur talent shows. Then, it was Carol’s turn.
She came on stage looking beautiful in a full-length dress. She walked up to the microphone and said, “I really don’t know what my talent is, but I thought this would be a good chance for me to give what I think I owe you all and that is an explanation. I know you’ve been looking at me all week, wondering about my fake leg. I thought I should tell you what happened. I was in a motorcycle accident. I almost died, but they kept giving me blood and my pulse came back. They amputated my leg below the knee, and later, they amputated through the knee. I spent seven months in hospital—seven months with intravenous antibiotics to fight infection.” She paused for a moment and then continued, “If I’ve one talent, it is this: I can tell you that during that time my faith became very real to me.”
Suddenly a hush swept over the lounge. The waitresses stopped serving drinks. The glasses stopped tinkling. Every eye was focused on this tall seventeen-year-old blonde.
She said, “I look at you girls who walk without a limp, and I wish I could walk that way. I can’t, but this is what I’ve learned and I want to leave it with you: It’s not how you walk that counts but who walks with you and who you walk with.”
She then began to sing:
“And He walks with me and He talks with me
And He tells me I am his own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known.”
The people on the deck gave Carol a standing ovation as she spoke with shining eyes how God became an experienced reality for her during her testing times.
Carol’s is a wonderful story of heroism and courage in the face of one of the most debilitating conditions faced by a human being. She did not give up but searched for a positive reason behind an unfortunate incident that had crippled her for life. She became an inspiration for many broken souls. She realised the purpose of her life by teaching the world how to smile through their challenges and not let physical handicap determine one’s state of mind and attitude towards life.
Life presents us with many possibilities at every step of the way. Here, many people often get confused between probabilities and possibilities. The fact is that probability and possibility are completely different from each other. Probability is about chances, but a possibility is about taking the steering wheel of our lives in our own hands. When we allow ourselves to look at possibilities, we are filled with hope and positive anticipation.
A good way to access this state is to be in a state of questioning rather than seeking answers to life’s challenges. When something goes wrong, instead of complaining “Why me?” ask what you can do to better the situation.
Asking a question gives you an awareness of what could be possible, of the choices you could make. Whereas seeking a solution makes you look for the right answer. There is almost never one right answer to a problem, and you tie yourself up in thinking about what you wish could be possible rather than asking questions which would show you an array of possibilities far beyond your wildest dreams.
Says Gary Douglas, founder of Access Consciousness, a New Age healing modality, “The world of choice is where all possibilities become a place you can create from. When you choose, you open the door to possibilities. When you choose possibility, you open the door to greater. To more. To something that can deliver for you in ways you never thought or received before. Most of us spend our entire lives looking for the answer. To get it right. To not be wrong. What if something else is possible? What if being the question is the answer you’ve been seeking?”
Gary offers three effective tools to enter the space of possibility thinking:
• Instead of asking “What’s wrong with me?” ask “What’s right with me I’m not getting?”
• Instead of asking “Could it get any worse?” ask “How does it get any better than this?”
• Instead of deciding “Nothing is going to change here” ask “What else is possible that I’ve never considered?”
“A fundamental tool in Access is living in and as the question. It’s about exploring all possibilities. When you are open to the adventure of curiosity, everything becomes possible, and anything you desire to create or change can occur with total ease. The one key difference is that when you ask, it needs to be from the space of a true question. An open-ended question opens the door to a different set of possibilities, an infinite set of possibilities,” he says.
The practitioners of these tools have reported many groundbreaking openings in their lives.
The fundamental premise behind this idea is that when you sincerely question the Universe about the next step to take, your mind opens up to possibilities. And the Universe, ever ready to drop brilliant ideas into your head, responds accordingly.
From pain to creation
When people do not want to give up on their dreams, possibility thinking takes birth. Very often, it is the process of intense inner churning that compels people to leave the beaten track and look for alternative solutions.
Meherunnisa Sutarwala, a hypnotherapist from Mumbai, recalls, “I was fifty when my younger brother had a terrible accident. The doctor saw his X-ray and recommended an operation but said that he would begin his treatment after returning from a pilgrimage. I began to think of options to help my brother in the meantime. Being a hypnotherapist, I eliminated the excruciating pain from his fractured knee through energy work. Then, thrice a day daily, I did clinical hypnosis, and the fracture was healed in ten days.
This made her believe more not just in herself but how each event, both good and bad, can be treated as an opportunity.
Another such story is that of Sophia Roy, a shamanic healer, past life regression therapist, and clairvoyant from Hyderabad. Her mother had died at childbirth. Her hopes of finding love and acceptance were shattered by the cruelty and indifference of her stepmother towards her. She felt that she was living on the periphery as an uncomfortable add-on to the family of her father, stepmother, and their daughter.
In this scenario, she considered nature as her mother, and she was happiest in its lap. Her father’s army job ensured acres of land and big British houses populated with trees, flowers, insects, and animals. Marriage happened early at the age of eighteen. However, the gaping wounds of insecurity and loveless life could not be filled by marriage. This deep pain made her wonder about her state and seek answers in spirituality.
It was at that time that she met Dr Newton Kondaveti and his wife Dr Lakshmi, famous past life regression therapists from India. Through them, she understood how only she could love herself. She worked on many methodologies and became a certified past life regression therapist herself.
49-year-old Lipi Banerjee from Mumbai was shifted to her maternal grandparents’ house at the age of 10 in the suburbs of West Bengal, as there were no good schools where her father was posted.
Sadly, her grandfather was a tyrant, and there was no love in that household. He knew how to crush a person emotionally and mentally. During this period, she fell down 17 steps and badly damaged her coccyx. She also had a bad bout of rheumatic fever. While she was battling with deteriorating health, greater misfortune fell upon her when her father was murdered ruthlessly. She was emotionally devastated by the turn of events. After this, her marriage was solemnised, which turned out to be stormy and she was not accepted in her new household.
Extreme pain and despair made her want to look for reasons for her particularly trying life-situations. She started reading and exploring spirituality. The first significant book which impacted her was You can heal your life by Louise Hayes and then The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. They were eye-openers for her. After this, she got introduced to Art of living and the Landmark Forum.
An open mind creates possibilities
It is not just trauma and grief that take us to new avenues but regular life too.
Preeti Singh, the 50-year-old wife of an erstwhile naval officer, has a unique story. After marriage, she tried various employment opportunities, and in 1996, came in contact with the MD of Bacardi (a liquor brand) through one of her friends. This gentleman wanted to learn Hindi for day-to-day application. Even though Hindi was not her forte, Preeti decided to give this work a try. She started by reading a lot of books and charting a method of her own. This opened a totally new avenue in life for her.
We know who we are in the depth of our being. The grandson of a freedom fighter, Sailesh Mishra, was always vocal about the need to better the society and never shied away from helping others. He actively fought any injustice he witnessed. He refused to join his family business but knew that he had to work to survive. During these trying times, he fell in love. However, the inter-caste marriage did not sit well with his parents, and as a result, he had to leave his home. So, at the young age of 22, Sailesh had a bride to look after and a career to figure out.
Reluctantly, he became a salesman and spent the next 15 years climbing his way up the ladder to become the company’s marketing manager. The corporate world did not satisfy Sailesh, so he offered to volunteer at Dignity Foundation, an elderly social support organisation. Serendipitously, the group wanted Sailesh to become its marketing manager. This was indeed a call that resonated completely with his soul.
Possibilities happen when we keep looking out for them. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” is a well-known Biblical adage.
As we can see, each person’s life journey is different as each one of us is different. The commonality, however, is that they listened to their own inner self for direction. With this mindset, life blesses us, as we are working on connecting to a higher power.
Divinely sent opportunities reach us in myriad ways. While in some cases they might be just what we asked, in other cases, the journey might differ. But the answers do come in, one way or the other. Possibilities keep knocking at one’s door, one after the other, for change is the only constant in life.
In Meherunnisa’s case, while they waited for the doctor to return, there was another possibility waiting to unfold. She recalls, “When we met the doctor on his return, he was amazed to see the results. That’s when he wanted me to work with him. But to qualify to work in the hospital, I required a doctorate in hypnotherapy. That's when I was inspired, and the possibility of accomplishing my degree began.” She began writing her thesis and obtained a PhD in hypnotherapy at the age of 50.
Sophiya Roy’s life was about ascending through even tougher challenges. Just when she thought all was well, Sophiya encountered her dark night of the soul.
Her son, Capt. Sameer Roy Choudhury, an army officer stationed in Manipur for a counter-insurgency operation, had applied for leave to solemnise his marriage ceremony. Everyone was busy preparing for his forthcoming wedding.
Life then took a twisted turn. Sophiya had just reached office when she got a call from her husband. “Something has happened to our son; he is no more,” he said with a cracking voice. She was devastated beyond measure and did not know whom to turn to, what to believe in. The relatives changed their plane/train tickets to attend Sameer’s funeral instead of the wedding.
Even in this terrible situation, Sophiya tried to keep herself together. Her knowledge of past lives and the fact that we are all souls helped her when she needed it the most. Dr Newton organised a soul meditation on the third day. She saw her son’s past lives, some with only him and herself. A significant lifetime connected to the present one. She gained insights into why Sameer died and what their collective mission on earth was, which gave her hope, strength, and solace.
Life went on in a staid manner with pain in her heart till, one Sunday, the doorbell rang. At her doorstep stood a soldier with a little black podgy puppy. It was Sameer’s three-month-old pet Tibetan Mastiff—Sameer's parting gift. The dark night had passed; faint slivers of sunlight were beaming into the dark tunnel of their collective consciousness.
A similar thing happened to Lipi who was the victim of her grandfather’s tyranny. She kept reading more and more motivational and self-help books. At this point, Reiki entered her life and took her on a roller coaster ride while her Reiki guru, Rukmini Punoose, held her through the entire process. Reiki opened a new world of exciting possibilities for her. As she started healing her inner self, her outer world too started changing. She was completely healed and began leading a completely wholesome life.
As far as Preeti is concerned, she had found something she really liked doing. As her interpersonal and communication skills were quite good, she continued with this person who hailed from Puerto Rico for over three years, and later on, started to teach even his wife. She felt she had indeed found her path in life.
Sailesh found joy in his life since he had kept himself open to possibilities. The job with dignity came with a 75 per cent salary cut, but the pay did not deter him. He recalls his happiness after he signed the papers: “I remember standing on the local train, and smiling, just full of excitement, saying ‘Yeah! This is what I want!”
Fructification of possibilities
The fructification of possibilities shows us how much power we ourselves have. This is the pattern of life. We are always rewarded when we show ourselves to be good learners in the journey of our life. Possibilities fructify only if we hold on to our dreams, even if our path may have several bends.
Meherunissa not just got her doctorate but also became much more confident of her healing prowess. She says, “More than just the doctorate, my faith in my own healing abilities and hypnotherapy as a science bloomed, and today, at the age of 66, I am happy to be aiding many more people heal in their journey of life.”
This made her believe more than ever, that everything happens for a divine reason and that we can take control of our life through the power of our mind.
Sophia Roy founded a trust called Cosmic Wisdom Sharing Foundation in the memory of her son Capt. Sameer Roy Choudhury. It was created to serve people through the alternative modalities of meditation, healing, counselling, and workshops.
In the case of Lipi, all her inner turmoil, pain, struggles, and confusion started to get a meaning. She could now understand her life path. She got propelled towards Vedanta and The Gita and her life became beautiful as she became a healer. She says, “Amidst all the muck that life throws, these scriptures and healing work are like blooming lotuses.”
Preeti, on the other hand, went on to engage with various embassies and MNCs on contract to teach Hindi to expatriates. Today, she is working with the French embassy, British High Commission, and the Singapore embassy on contract and her students range from foreign security guards to ambassadors and high commissioners.
For Sailesh, new possibilities opened themselves up. After working with older adults for a few years, Sailesh realised children loved their parents, but they were either occupied with their job, education, or their personal lives. In 2008, he started Silver Innings, a social enterprise. It was established to provide need-based services to the elderly, with the launch of a dedicated and comprehensive website for senior citizens, www.silverinnings.com, on 10th April 2008, under his leadership. He also started A1 Snehanjali, Mumbai’s first 24x7 assisted living elder care home.
His remarkable work in the field of dementia and elder rights advocacy has brought him accolades, awards, respect, and support from many renowned organisations around the world.
Essentially, possibility thinking has to start with the conviction that we can achieve whatever we wish to, though the paths shown to us may be varied and diverse. With this immaculate belief in the Universe and in ourselves, life bestows all its blessings on us, guiding and steering us on the right path.
Possibility thinking makes us interact with the Universe and understand what it wants to communicate to us. Often we are so busy visualising what we want, that we do not pause to see whether we deserve those gifts or not. Whether we have fulfilled the conditions of the Universe before it precipitates its bounties on us.
When challenges come, or troubles stare us in our face, possibility thinking makes us listen to the hidden messages of the Universe, coded in those sufferings.
We begin to flex and build up the muscles of understanding, resilience, determination, faith, surrender, forgiveness and undying optimism in order to make sense of the bitter experiences of life.
The fighters were able to rediscover their true essence, i.e unconditional love because they did not want to give up and were determined to know why life had given them a raw deal. They deleted their old programming of victimhood, helplessness, blame-game and decided to script a new life with the help of their guides, true friends, self-help books and the ever present voice of our highest Self.
Possibility thinking expands our mental horizon and makes us look at life from multiple angles. It makes us overcome duality and consider our enemies too as friends who had entered our life to teach us valuable lessons.
It uncovers many hidden talents, abilities and potentials lying latent within us.
The road to the manifestation of our desires is never easy, but possibility thinking makes us get closer to it faster than anything else.
Ushering in Possibilities
We can all create in possibilities in our lives by following the principles given below:
• Believe that possibilities also mean that solutions exist. This is not about denying constraints but working our way around constraints.
• Persist in looking for answers when we are unable to find straightforward solutions to the constraints.
• Learn to live with uncertainty and still act with confidence.
• Realise that things don’t have to be the way they are now and that making a change is a possibility.
• Challenge the status quo, knowing that there are bound to be better ways of doing things.
• Put all your energy into taking the right next-steps.
• Pursue the path of your heart and go where it takes you, even if it means living on the edge.
• Move beyond your best, and be prepared to fail often to succeed eventually.
• Have high expectations of yourself, as making possibilities happen is hard work.
• Be impeccable with words because our choice of words creates our possibilities.
• Have a strong desire to make a positive difference.
• Live in possibilities with a mindset of serving others by working with them, collaborating with them, and finding people who can be allies in making things happen.
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