Sunday, June 12, 2011

Spinning Straw into Gold

Just as the miller’s daughter in Rumpelstiltskin was called upon to spin straw into gold, we often have opportunities to turn a judging thought into a kind thought. While I was on vacation last summer, I found myself in a warm climate surrounded by several thousand people in bathing suits. I confess I often reacted with less than charitable thoughts.

“You should not be wearing that bikini, girlfriend.”

“That Speedo is not doing you any favors, bro.”

After a couple of days, I realized that I was poisoning my own spirit with these thoughts. All those folks were soaking up sunshine and having a great time without any regard to my opinion, and rightfully so. I decided that every time I had a judgmental thought I would turn it into something positive.

(To bikini girl) “That’s a great color on you.”

(To Speedo guy) “I admire your self-confidence.”

Everyone continued enjoying their vacation in blissful ignorance of my alchemical feats. And my mood improved so much that I started passing out silent compliments instead of judgmental thoughts at every opportunity.

“Love your accent.”

“Nice smile.”

“Great job.”

It seemed that everywhere I looked, there was something or someone to send a pleasant thought to. Not only did my thoughts change, but my whole outlook changed, like straw into gold. I found myself humming a familiar tune.

You’ve got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
And latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with Mister In-Between
–Johnny Mercer

revised from archives


  1. I hear you loud and clear Galen, I'm also guilty of judging others and after thinking about why I do it I generally have something about myself I'm not satisfied with.

    I'm going to take your post and think of it while I'm on my holiday and I don't care if I'm 10 lbs. heavier than I'd like to be... who cares? I'm not there to impress, I'm there for myself and to have a good time, so a good time I shall have, not in a bikini though! It's one piece for me all the way. I've never been a bikini kind of girl and I'm not going to start now unless I'm on a beach in Mexico where it's 150 degrees! ;-)

    Enjoy your week, if I have time while I'm away I'll be here visiting, if not I'll see what I can do about catching up to everyone's blogs when I get back. I'm leaving very early Tuesday morning and won't be home until the 24th and am I ever getting excited!! Thanks for sharing these wise words, a great reminder not to be judgmental.

  2. I totally agree with this message Galen. It is amazing how much we can just improve our mindset and increase our positive energy by focusing on the right things and sending out compliments and kindness.

  3. Hi Galen, I run into the same problem with people judging me.

    Friends relate to you if you write something they enjoy or just don’t bother with you if you’re not interesting or entertaining enough. But intellectuals seem to have an agenda. I think spending so much time in school gets a persons’ mind into judging, accepting and rejecting.

    So I go along and find I have many friends who just love what I have to say. But then one day I say something that isn’t politically correct and all my friends disappear. So then I watch my poor little ego, who tries so hard, scramble around like a rat in a maze trying to figure out what went wrong. I do feel sorry for her but know if she got the upper hand in my life she would find some other ego to torture.

    So I watch my ego, with as much un-attachment as possible.

    your friend, sue

  4. Learning to be more appreciative in observation is such a useful mental tool. It becomes easier to say something nice, because you mean it and don't have to make things up. I can still be awfully sarcastic around my siblings, as that is how we were raised, but I just don't feel it any more.

    I'm glad I had my ego in times when I was being oppressed, but I don't need it as much now that I have enough of what matters to me.

    Thanks for bringing this one back, Galen.

  5. yeah, but really...............

  6. darlin--Have a wonderful vacation!

    Sibyl--Exactly. Once I quit criticizing, I had a much better time!

    suzzy--That is an interesting perspective about being on the receiving end rather than the criticizing end. I have had one friend in my life who always seemed to take me on my own terms. I could talk to her about absolutely anything because I knew she would love me no matter what. What a gift.

    Mikey--I like your phrase "appreciative in observation." When I quit criticizing people and begin to look for something positive, I can always find something to compliment. Your comment about your siblings reminded me of the way my daughter's friends talked to each other in high school. It sounded so unkind. They seemed to be fine with it, but I had to set a line at the school door and tell her that sort of talk could not come home with her! It makes it so hard to be kind if it's not "cool," or if it's seen as a weakness.

    ryoko--but really...what? I started to reply, but realized I was assuming I knew what you meant. I'm not sure I do. Can you say more? Thanks for commenting--I want to make sure I understand.

  7. I think it can become a habit. A knee jerk response that is hard to shake. My mom was the worst. I'm no saint but I tend not to be wired that way. It is... as you say Galen... way so much better [and way so much easier] to think kindly.

    Thanks for the reminder though :-)

  8. Hi Galen,

    Perception in life is everything. What we perceive becomes our reality and the best part is, we can change our own perceptions. I love your story about how you changed your thoughts because I can see the change in your moods from bad to good. While it is easy to focus on the bad points and criticize, many of us do so out of habit and influence from our surroundings. As such, it is possible to swing in the other direction and learn to focus on the good points. There are after all at least 2 sides to any story. Why should we focus on the negative side if it does not help matters?

    Thank you for sharing this thought provoking article! :)

    Irving the Vizier

  9. Hi Galen!
    Loved this post. I find that having such judgmental thoughts is just a double-edged sword, for they make me believe that others are having those thoughts about me as well. And so, I lose self-confidence. So I try not to have those poisonous thoughts and it makes me forget that others might have them about me. People call me naive because of that, but it makes me happier so I don't care. And hopefully one day I will not care at all if others judge me.

  10. Love the creative spin in your message about refraining from judgment. Your tip is an excellent one!! I'm so inspired by it that I'm intending to share it on facebook. Keep the great posts coming!

  11. Jean--We learn patterns and habits as children. It's hard to even be aware of them sometimes, much less to change them! But I believe that we can "rewire" ourselves by developing habits that create a foundation of joy. Thanks for commenting.

    Irving--As it says in A Course in Miracles, perception is a mirror, not a fact. Just as you pointed out, we can choose our "lens" through which we see the world. Our choice is the basis of our habitual view. You make a good point that we can just as easily choose the positive over the negative. Thanks for commenting.

    Beliza--Poisonous thoughts is a good description. I had not thought about the double edged sword concept, but now that you point that out, I see it clearly. Thanks for your comment.

    Evelyn--So pleased that you are going to spread the idea on facebook. Thank you!!

  12. Hi Galen,
    I am guilty of inner commentaries running through my mind about other people at times. And you are so right, it is not healthy and only gives oneself negative energy. Seeing the good in others requires a positive mind. That is good for all concerned. I am also guilty of thinking others think badly of me at times too. That one I have learned to ignore...funny how little miss meek me can do that, but my perspective over the last two years has changed so much I really don't care what complete strangers think of me. My friends, however, mean so much I truly care what they think!
    Katy x

  13. Katy--Nothing like a life challenge to sharpen our priorities and help us let go of all the nonsense we often pay attention to! I hope Sammy is having a good week this week.

  14. Nice job!
    My mum always said "If you do not have anything nice to say do not say it at all." I sometimes have to remind myself that includes the inner comments as well.

    I saw a woman today walking down the street - very attractive and huge in the behind...I thought that which I thought might just be what others are thinking about me. One woman said one time, "you have such a pretty face why don't you slime down to match it?"

    Now I want to edit people's thinking especially about me! Ah there is the rub, these judgements are mostly about me and my thoughts!

  15. Wonderful reminder of how our thinking changes our relations with others. All is but a mirror, so it's always just a perception of our inner beliefs reflected outwardly. People either reflect what we Love about ourselves, or don't wish to see in ourselves, and our perception makes up the difference. I am grateful it's not our job to judge; what a relief ;-)

    Great post! Happy weekend! :-)

  16. Antonia--Yes, what a relief! Thanks for your comment. Hope you have a great weekend, too.


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