Why does it hurt to see a friend punished? Why do we usually feel bad when those of whom we think a great deal feel bad? Why is there a tendency of most minds to think and feel like the prevailing thought in their community?
Why does a mob lose its head, so to speak, and proceed to think, feel and act precisely like the leader? Why do scores of incidents of a similar nature take place in our midst constantly?
Sympathetic imitation explains such phenomena. And the law that underlies this phenomena is a law that we must understand thoroughly if we wish to master our own thinking and our actions wherever those actions may be expressed.
When you sympathize with weakness you are liable to become weak.
When you sympathize with disease you are liable to get the same symptoms and frequently the very disease itself. When you sympathize with the wrong you are liable to think that same wrong and possibly act it out in your own life. These are facts with which we are all familiar. It is therefore a subject of extreme importance.
The law that governs sympathy is this, that you enter into mental unity in a measure with everything with which you sympathize,
and that whatever you enter into mental unity with you tend to imitate and produce in yourself to a degree.
Understanding this law we realize that we cannot afford to sympathize with everything, but on the contrary find it absolutely necessary to make a careful selection of those things with which we may sympathize.
When you sympathize with a person who is in trouble do not think of the trouble or the pain or the weakness, but think of that something within him that is superior to all pain and that can annihilate all the trouble in existence.
Then remember the great statement that “he that is within you is greater than he that is in the world.” Make it a practice never to sympathize with the inferior side, but only with the superior side.
But this will not make you cold and indifferent as many suppose, for it is impossible for you to become mentally cold while being in touch with the very life of the soul itself which must be the very essence of tenderness, kindness and love.
In applying this principle we find that the more perfectly you sympathize with the higher, the finer and the stronger side of man the more love you feel, the more tenderness you express and the more helpful you become in all of your efforts.
Nothing is lost, therefore, but much is gained by training the mind to sympathize only with the true side of human life.
The man who is sick and in trouble does not want more tears. He has had enough of them. What he wants and what he needs is that sympathy that can banish all tears and that can reveal the way to emancipation, power and joy. This being true we must try to banish completely every form of morbid sympathy. It hurts everybody.
It perpetuates weakness and keeps the mind in bondage to inferior imitations. In applying this higher form of sympathy do not tell the unfortunate that you are sorry.
Tell them how to get rid of their sorrow. Then do something substantial to speed them on the way. This is sympathy that is worthy of the name.
Right thinking cannot be promoted so long as we sympathize in the. old fashioned way. We cannot think constructively so long as we permit the mind to imitate the wrong, the weak, the inferior and the destructive.
Here, however, we find a problem that we must solve because it is natural for the mind to imitate to a certain degree.
We should therefore give the mind something to imitate that has quality and superiority.
In brief, we should train the mind to imitate the strong, the worthy, the superior and the ideal, and thus cause all mental actions to produce the strong, the worthy, the superior and the ideal in ourselves.
For the mind invariably tends to create that which we think of the most. The true attitude of sympathy will be promoted to a very great extent if we train ourselves to live in the upper story or rather the idealistic state of mind.
There are two planes upon which the mind can dwell and they are usually called the idealistic and the materialistic. The ideal plane is the upper plane while the materialistic is the lower.
In the idealistic all the tendencies of the mind move towards the qualities of superiority and worth; all the desires are for the higher and the better; all thoughts are created after the likeness of our higher conceptions of the perfect, the true and the superior. To live in such an attitude is to be an idealist and this is the meaning of idealism.
An idealistic mind therefore is a mind that is constantly ascending, and thus taking a larger view and a more beautiful view every day of the richness and splendor of real existence.
In the materialistic attitude all the tendencies of mind move toward the superficial, the inferior and the imperfect. In this attitude we usually think according to those false conceptions of things that have been handed down by the race, and all our desires are concerned principally with satisfying the needs of the body.
The materialistic mind is the descending mind, the mind that is losing ground gradually, and that is daily being overcome more and more by its own perverted and materialistic thought habits.
But to live in the upper story is to keep the mind concentrated upon the great possibilities that are latent within us and to desire with the whole heart the daily realization of more and more of the wonders that are in store for those who are steadily pressing on towards greater things.
In the upper story we live with such greatness. In the lower story we live with mistakes and inferiority. In the upper story we see that man is daily unfolding the greatness of the super-man. In the lower story we see only the depravity or weakness of error and sin. In the lower story we are in partial or complete darkness.
In the upper story we are in the full light. It is therefore easily understood why the mind must dwell in the upper story before right thinking can begin.
After beginning to live in the upper story the consciousness of superiority and supremacy will naturally appear, and these two states should be thoroughly developed.
We should all train ourselves to feel that we are superior beings; not superior to others because we are all superior, but superior to everything that pertains to personal existence; superior to ills, pains, weaknesses, mistakes and failures; and superior to everything that is imperfect or undeveloped.
Here we should remember that the consciousness of superiority does not produce vanity or egotism. When a person has really become conscious of the superiority of his true being he is above all small and questionable states of mind.
When you are superior you do not have to make any display of the matter to prove it. It will show in your life and in your work, and actions speak more eloquently than words.
The principal reason why the attitude of superiority is so important is because it unites the mind with everything in your life and your thought that has quality, and thereby gives everything in your mind and personality the stamp of greater worth.
And it is a well known fact that whenever we enrich our thought, or any expression of thought, we tend to enrich everything in our life and those things that we produce through our work.
The attitude of supremacy should refer to your own being only. To rule supremely in your own domain and not interfere with the domain of any one else —this is the true purpose of self-supremacy.
And the value of self-supremacy is realized not only in its power to give the individual self-mastery, but also in the fact that when the mind feels that it is superior it can more easily think its own thoughts and thereby prevent the practice of imitating false actions or ideas.
It must therefore be quite evident that this state is absolutely necessary to scientific thinking and to the art of thinking for results.
The mind that recognizes its own supremacy is a strong mind and will therefore seek to extend its power wherever the enlargement of life can be promoted,
but to accomplish this the mind must be positive; that is, every action of the mind should be filled, so to speak, with a thought current that tends to press on and on to the goal in view.
The positive mind, however, does not force its way, but wins because it is strong, and every mind becomes strong when constantly filled with thoughts that are positive and determined. To the attitude of positiveness we should add those of push and perseverance because these two attitudes tend to promote the increase of the results that are already being gained; and there is nothing that succeeds like that which is constantly pressing on to greater success.
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Thinking For Results By Christian D. Larson Published 1912