The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the official views of the Baha'i Faith.
It seems obvious to most people that the world we live in has descended into utter chaos and sometimes appears to be on the brink of annihilation, especially in recent years.
As a result, we’re bombarded by a lot of negativity that can distract us from focusing on the positive things in our lives, and even cause us to sink into a state of depression.
Every day we face tragic news, from the outbreak of a deadly pandemic that threatens human life to wars that result in the death of civilians and innocent children. In the midst of such horrific events, it can become difficult to believe in a bright future. How can we stay positive when so many terrible things are happening in the world?
The Baha’i teachings highlight the importance of the power of thought. It is our thought that distinguishes human beings from animals, and makes us a supreme creation. If not for our thought, there would be no difference between us and the animals. In a speech he gave in Paris, Abdu’l-Baha said: “… the reality of man is his thought, not his material body. … Although man is part of the animal creation, he possesses a power of thought superior to all other created beings.”
After all, humans are the only creations blessed with the ability to think abstractly. We are able to improve life, not only for ourselves but for others as well. If we survey human history, we can see that the power of thought is responsible for so many inventions that have brought about an improvement in the quality of life on Earth, such as electricity, computers, and RNA vaccines.
In his book Some Answered Questions Abdu’l Baha explained that “… death is the absence of life. When man no longer receives life, he dies. Darkness is the absence of light: when there is no light, there is darkness…” We can extend this concept to explain how the absence of positive thoughts can result in negative thoughts, just as the absence of light produces darkness. If we truly want to bring about positive changes in the world, or on a small scale in our individual lives, we need to prevent our negative thoughts from taking control of our minds.
I charge you all that each one of you concentrate all the thoughts of your heart on love and unity. When a thought of war comes, oppose it by a stronger thought of peace. A thought of hatred must be destroyed by a more powerful thought of love. Thoughts of war bring destruction to all harmony, well-being, restfulness and content.
This is not easy. Sometimes my mind feels so overwhelmed with negative thoughts that I doubt my own abilities. I wonder how I can bring positive changes in a society that is full of enmity. When I feel hopeless, I don’t ignore my negative thoughts; instead, I listen to them and write them down to purify my mind and then, I turn to the Baha’i writings, which assure us that eventually:
The light of heavenly love will shine and the gloomy darkness of hatred and enmity will be dispelled as far as possible. Universal peace will raise its pavilion in the midmost heart of creation and the blessed Tree of Life will so grow and flourish as to stretch its sheltering shade over the East and the West.
Abdu’l-Baha repeatedly counsels us to remain hopeful and confident in the future:
Let us then trust in the bounty and bestowal of God. Let us be exhilarated with the divine breath, illumined and exalted by the heavenly glad-tidings … He who conferred the divine spirit in former times is abundantly able and capable at all times and periods to grant the same bestowals. Therefore let us be hopeful. The God who gave to the world formerly will do so now and in the future.
Our thoughts eventually shape our reality, and together they will shape the future of the world and our lives. We need to be aware of them and foster a positive mindset instead of focusing on our hardships. At times it may seem to us that the world has descended into a terrible state, but we have to understand that we have the power to bring not only order but also harmony to our own lives and those of others.
At our darkest moments, we must remember that humanity has survived, among other catastrophic events, two World Wars and a deadly pandemic. There is nothing we can’t overcome.