B is for belief

This week I was blessed with a number of B words to consider as inspiration for this week’s blog. Those included bread, body, blessings, bologna, and breathe. No offense to the one who recommended bologna, however, short of bringing back memories of fried bologna sandwiches from my childhood it left me short of inspiration. Although I did feel blessed when my mother would make them and I would take a deep breath between each bite and give thanks for what was then a very special treat in my life. The others left me with memories of topics I have blogged on recently, or at least in the last few years. For example, there were the blogs Breathe before speaking, Breath, Baked to Perfection, and To the love of my life.

What I believe about bread, body, blessings, bologna, or breathing is only true for me and only if I agree that it is true. What one believes is important and can shape the direction of one’s life. As Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or can’t, you are right.” If one believes one cannot do something, then they are right because they have already made up their minds that they cannot. Conversely, if one believes one can do something, they are also right, as they have made a commitment in their minds that they will achieve something and there is no plan B. It does not matter what you believe, because whatever you believe about anything is right because you believe it is right.

This basic teaching is not new. It is a lesson we can read about in ancient wisdom traditions such as Toltec Wisdom, which teaches that what we agree to, what we believe, becomes our book of law. Beliefs, from a Toltec perspective, are “statements which we accept as true or real. It can also be a freely held opinion or conviction.”[1] Even Dr. Seuss[2] reflected on the power of belief when it was written:

We have the power to change the course of our lives at any moment in time. I remember saying this to someone once and they said, “Well, what about if you committed a heinous crime? You can’t change the course of your life then.” While in this situation the crime cannot be undone, how one lives one’s life and moves through the rest of their life from that point forward can be changed. One can choose to take responsibility for the crime they committed or one can choose to try to avoid taking responsibility for one’s choices. I have been corresponding with a few men who have been in prison for over 10 years each, some longer then others, and the difference between them is amazing. Each of them not only believes something differently about why they are in prison, but about what they should do with their lives while they are there.

Perhaps the hardest part about what Dr. Seuss said is the last line that we can steer ourselves in any direction we choose. So many have difficulties making choices; it can be difficult to discern what the right choice for one’s life is. They know they have the brains in their head and the feet in their shoes, but they cannot steer themselves in any direction until they choose. It is making the choice as to which direction to go which is difficult. Ultimately, whatever they choose will be right because as Dr. Seuss also said, “You’re on your own and you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”[3] So just for this moment, are you choosing you can or you can’t; whatever you believe you are right.


[1] Sheri A. Rosenthal, Complete Idiot’s Guide to Toltec Wisdom, (Alpha, New York, 2005), 320.

[2] Dr Seuss, Oh the Places You’ll Go. (Random House: New York, 1996), 2.

[3] Ibid.