I believe that when we consistently stumble into the same messages, or the same thoughts flit across our mental screens repeatedly -- and those thoughts are reasonable, not crazy -- that the universe is speaking to us, and we should pay attention. So, when a BlogHer staff member suggested a contributing editor write about the blogs Operation Beautiful and Gives Me Hope and interview their founders, I raised my hand in cyberspace, "Oooh! Ooh-ooh-ooh! I'll do it!"
As its "about us" page says, Gives Me Hope (GMH) is a site "where people share with the world their most hopeful, uplifting moments and allow others to draw strength from their experiences," and its slogan is "Life is beautiful today!" The site's creators, Gaby Montero and Emerson Spartz, write that they started GMH in May 2009 in response to the popular site, FMyLife.com (FML). "On FML, people share stories explaining how their day was completely ruined."
GMH inspired Operation Beautiful (OB), whose founder, Caitlin Boyle, began with a post on her other Web site, Healthy Tipping Point. Operation Beautiful's slogan is "Ending fat talk one anonymous Post-It at a time."
Caitlin states succinctly at OB, "The mission of Operation Beautiful is to post anonymous notes in public places for other women to find. The point is that WE ARE ALL BEAUTIFUL. You are enough ... just the way you are!"
The concept behind both GMH and OB is old wisdom. As Gaby wrote to me, you can think of it in terms of an old saying, "If you lie down with dogs, you get fleas."
That's a line I heard from my grandmother often. If you think of negativity as fleas (my grandmother equated the fleas with people who were bad influences), you see the logic of Gaby's philosophy.
Through GMH, she and Emerson encourage people to infuse cyberspace with positive stories about life rather than negative drama. Through OB, Caitlin inspires women to take what she calls concrete positive action in the brick-and-mortar world by leaving self-esteem building messages for other women.
Considering how I've been mulling over ways in which we change our self-mythologies -- or as Rosie O'Donnell said on Oprah's show Monday, that she had to give herself a new story -- the path up which these two young women, Gaby, 22, and Caitlin, 25, have chosen to take their lives intrigues me. This is what I mean by the universe speaking. My mother used to call it "messages in the ether." It can be an idea for a new product, an invention, or a way to live, and it's out there floating and popping out at you everywhere you turn if you're paying attention.
For instance, in December, I asked if anyone had links about challenges to think positively for a month. Liz Rizzo responded immediately that she'd just seen a note from Yoko Ono on Facebook posted that same day, "Try to say nothing negative about anybody for three days, for forty-five days, for three months. See what happens to your life."
Minutes later, BlogHer CE Morra Aarons Mele sent the link First30Days.com, a site with the mission to "inspire you to find the positive in any change —- the ones you're struggling with and the ones you've always dreamed of making." Then Liz Gumbinner sent a link to The Happiest Mom, and Maria Niles sent a link to her post about going complaint-free for 21 days. And AVFlox sent a link from a family member about the Seven Day Mental Diet from Emmet Fox:
The most important of all factors in your life is the mental diet on which you live. It is the food which you furnish to your mind that determines the whole character of your life. It is the thoughts you allow yourself to think, the subjects that you allow your mind to dwell upon, which make you and your surroundings what they are. As thy days, so shall thy strength be. Everything in your life today — the state of your body, whether healthy or sick, the state of your fortune, whether prosperous or impoverished', the state of your home, whether happy or the reverse, the present condition of every phase of your life in fact — is entirely conditioned by the thoughts and feelings which you have entertained in the past, by the habitual tone of your past thinking. And the condition of your life tomorrow, and next week, and next year, will be entirely conditioned by the thoughts and feelings which you choose to entertain from now onwards. (Seven-Day Mental Diet)
That's old information made new again via the Internet. My mother, who I discussed in "Should You Change Your Self-Mythology?" was a proponent of Fox's works, and as I said in that post, it was my mother's effort to change her own negative thought patterns that have caused me to be skeptical of positive thinking.
She would send his Golden Key books to friends and family members, and later I'd hear these friends and family members singing her praises for sending them, declaring that the books had helped them. She sent them to me as well, but as I flipped through, I felt it was just a way from some guy to get people like my mother to send him some money, but I didn't throw them away because my mother sent them.
I guarantee you that if I went to my storage shed right now and went through boxes of memorabilia, I'd undoubtedly uncover at least five of the small booklets. My mother was desperately trying to tell me something about life that I refused to hear because I was unconvinced positive thinking had helped her.
It's the kind of "new age" teachings made popular again by the book The Secret, a positive thinking program that's promoted by those who say it works but condemned by those who call it "hogwash" that fosters a "victim-blaming" mentality.
However, Caitlin and Gaby see thinking positively differently from those who say it encourages blaming the victim. They believe focusing on the good can change lives. ... Please continue reading a full interview with these two young women here.
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