The starting blocks were pulled free and gravity propelled the youngster's handmade car down the incline. Expecting exhilaration, the boy instead was overtaken by fear. A fear so riveting, it erased the driving instructions he'd memorized. As his cart drifted to the left, the driver in the next lane yelled, "LOOKOUT!", too late for Jason to avoid the collision.
As Jason's racer careened to the right, his eyes clamped shut and he released the wheel, shielding his face from the onrushing obstacles.
The driverless racer roared downhill, scraping bushes, jumping curbs, hitting pedestrians and breaking through fences. Finally, after spinning around backwards, Jason's momentum stopped and he opened his eyes.
Looking sheepishly back up the hill, he reviewed the path of havoc he'd left behind. People lay on sidewalks, lawns and street, all shaking fists at him. Shrubbery, fences, and mail lay scattered all over the yards. His own racer's polished cowling was crushed in four different places, and one wheel lay spinning on the pavement, 30 yards ahead.
His father was the first to reach the shaken boy. Once he saw there were no injuries, he calmly asked the obvious question.
"Why did you let go of the wheel?"
"They MADE me crash!" yelled a defensive Jason, pointing at the people and obstructions he'd collided with on the way down the hill. "It's not my fault, it's their fault!"
"Son," said the father slowly, but firmly, "It was you who drove into the other car. It was you who let go of the steering wheel. Because you gave up control of your car, the damage that was caused is your responsibility."
In this story, it's easy to see that Jason was at fault. Just as we are, when we look back on our day and find havoc where we'd wanted to find heaven.
When we aren't mentally steering ourselves, we're careened off course by thoughts, feelings, wants, cravings and the comments of others. Like Jason, once we take our hands off the wheel, we roll wherever outside influences propel us. When we awaken at the bottom of another day, all too often, we're not too proud of where we landed.
Holding on to the wheel of our own minds is the only way to find the happiness we work so hard to achieve. The reason so few find lasting happiness, is because we not only have no idea how to steer our minds, but very few even realize we own a steering wheel!
What we need, as did Jason, is to hang on to the wheel at all times. Our minds work like this: The real you, the naturally happy you, lies serenely behind your thoughts and feelings. Thoughts and feelings are no more "you" than a pair of pants are your legs. Yet thoughts and feelings, and their close cousins, wants and cravings, continually flow through our minds like traffic. WE remain safely on the sidewalk - until we reach out and embrace something in that roadway. Once we mentally grab a thought, we're swept away to where it leads.
For instance, perhaps a thought of lack flows through our mind. As soon as we say to ourselves, "I'm poor," we've identified with that thought, plucking it from the roadway of all other thoughts, and then attracting all the unhappy feelings that are connected to that unhappy thought.
One moment we're relaxed and happy, the next moment we're experiencing the unhappy feelings that accompany lack. Nothing else in our external world changed in that moment. WE changed inside our heads - we grabbed a thought from the traffic.
"Hanging on to the wheel," means keeping constant vigilance on what we allow our minds to dwell on. Every single thought must first be observed from the detached safety of our sidewalk, and then a conscious choice must be made to either let it pass by, or grab it. Whatever we grab from this roadway of thoughts and feelings, wants and cravings, grabs us in return. By holding a firm vision of where we want to go, keeping our hands on the wheel of our minds, we can instantly evaluate each thought and feeling that passes through and determine if it helps our journey or hinders it.
When you step behind the wheel of your own automobile, you'd never consider taking your hands off the wheel in traffic. Yet, we give no thought whatsoever to releasing our minds as we travel through the traffic of our day.
By taking our hands off our minds, our lives become nothing more than an out-of-control racer banging off shrubbery, fences and pedestrians. Worse yet, just like Jason, we then blame our pain on other people, circumstances and events, never realizing it's our own fault!
Our ride can be smoother! There's no reason to go through our days buffeted about by mental pain. With practice, negative thoughts, feelings, wants and cravings become as obvious to avoid as shrubbery, fences and pedestrians do to a soapbox racer.
When we allow nothing to disturb our peace of mind, we find it. And as long as we have that peace of mind, we're in the winner's circle, no matter where we finish.
Mike Johnson is an energetic writer & entrepreneur. Learn more about Mike's offerings at www.MikeJohnson.biz