Recently, I've been searching for a lot of practical advice to help me improve in my everyday life. Because I am usually sticking my nose in books about metaphysics, or abstract philosophy, I sometimes forget to live life in a more linear fashion, and my responsibilities get tossed to the wayside. I have a better understanding of the metaphysical world than I do of the physical world, and when I am a part of the rat race of life, I do find myself feeling confused and a little bit lost. I remembered that my friend Yushi, a minister in the religion of Happy Science, told me about a book written by the religions founder, Master Ryuho Okawa, and that it was exactly what I was looking for. This was around two or three years ago, and for a moment I was shaken by that realization alone. Two or three years in this situation? But really if I'm honest, I've been struggling with this dilemma most of my life. When you fashion yourself as some sort of bohemian, philosopher, slacker, mystic, I guess it's easy to shrug off responsibilities. Still, we all have to be grown-ups eventually.
So, currently I am about five chapters into "Think Big" and I have to say I am deeply moved by Okawa's honesty towards himself, and his personal struggles and growths as a person. This isn't a religious text persay, but more of a self-help book aimed at young adults (which I'm not, but I guess I missed a lot of this advice in my more formative years). Some of the topics tackled are about inferiority complexes, how to manage time and make quick decisions, and how to bounce back from personal hardships. There is some talk about metaphysics and the beliefs within Happy Science, but in general, this book is more how to interact with others on a professional level than anything else.
One part I found particularly encouraging was the "I'm Fine!" aspect of this philosophy on how to think big. In this section, Okawa talks about how an English professor would ask the students how they were doing (in English) and expect the answer "I'm fine! Thank you!" in response. Okawa, being a boy who was too honest would say things like "I'm tired" or "I'm really sleepy" but the teacher kept encouraging him to say "I'm fine!" because this was a polite and positive response. This class took place on a Monday morning, and this teacher wanted his students to start the week off with the mantra of "I'm fine!" in hopes it would give them some strength to keep going. So, the "I'm fine!" aspect is of particular importance to me because I am like the young Okawa, except I'm in my thirties. I still answer with "I'm tired" or "I wish I was home, in bed". Having a positive outlook and affirmation, even during a difficult time, can definitely give you the strength to keep fighting on even when things feel bleak. At first I though this was a way of lying to yourself, and in a way it definitely is, but it is also a philosophical placebo affect. When a doctor prescribes a placebo to a patient, there is usually some positive outcome to it, even if the medicine is just a sugar pill. This affirmation of "I'm fine!" works the same. It won't make everything better around you, but it will help give you the strength to tackle it, if even a little bit.
If you have any interest, you can find more information in this book here.