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Around The Sun: Mirror Man

Success and happiness are all in the mind, says Steve Harrison.

There was a man who was relocating from one town to another several miles away. On the way he met a wise man. “What are the people like in the next town?” he asked the sage. "Well tell me, what the people are like where you’ve just come from.'' “I hate them,” he said “and they hate me. They are backstabbing, hypocrites and I’m glad to be starting a new life somewhere else,'' “I’m sorry” said the sage “but you are going to find the people in the next town to be the exactly the same.''

Some time later another man came along the same road leaving the same town and met the same sage at the crossroads. He asked the sage the same question and got the same reply. His report of the people in the town was different though. “I hate to leave the place, everyone is so kind and very dear to me. I am very sad to leave because everyone back in the town treats me like his brother and that is why I am so unhappy to leave.” “Don’t worry said the wise sage because in the next town you will find everyone very much the same in this next town. They will adopt you like a long-lost brother.''

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No matter how you form your world view, somehow the world will appear to convince you that you are right and your view correct. If you decide that you can’t trust people and they are all thieves out to rip you off, then as you describe this view to others everyone will confirm your view by telling you a story about how they have been ripped off. Somehow the world holds a mirror before us and reflects back the world as we perceive it.

When I worked in my first advertising agency my creative director and mentor was Barry Goodall. We hung out all the time, getting drunk together. For some reason despite the fact that we were both very talented, we were also always very broke. We lived hand to mouth and week to week, borrowing between paychecks.

A one legged guy hung out in the centre of Bradford trying to sell matches to passers-by. No one ever seemed to buy them. He would hurl abuse and threaten people, shaking his crutches at anyone who got within swinging distance. In my confused mind he became the epitome of a free spirit, a rebel against society..

Barry felt the same way about him. We admired the way he seemed to have broken free of a system we resented. I imagined myself as him, standing on street corners, selling matches. Some life goal!

Sometimes it seemed that Barry and I were both heading that way. Always broke, badly dressed, anti-social. But then things changed for me. I lived abroad for years and years. I read The Power Of Positive Thinking and other self-improvement books. I decided to accept the responsibility of fashioning my own destiny. My ambitions were set a little higher than selling matches.

I flew home to Yorkshire from wherever I was living at the time. I rang Barry. "Let's grab a few beers,'' he said. "I'll come and pick you up.''

Boy did I get a shock! He turned up in a brand new convertible BMW, well dressed and looking like a million dollars. He said I was also looking fairly prosperous. He too had changed his world view on wealth and prosperity. He changed his view and his life changed to match his new opinions.

They say a high jumper has to visualise what he wishes to achieve. He implants an image in his mind. He throws his heart over the bar, and his body follows it.

Life can be as we visualise it. Paint a picture in your mind of what you wish to be. Paint in as much detail as possible, the more detail the better. Slowly what you imagine will become a reality.

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