Sunday Snippet: Sir Thomas Browne (1605-1682)

“I am the happiest man alive. I have that in me that can convert poverty to riches, adversity to prosperity, and I am more invulnerable than Achilles; fortune hath not one place to hit me.”

A positive outlook on life, coupled with a great sense of self-efficacy, can be an incredibly powerful thing. Far too often, we take a look at our lot in life and we focus on what is missing. We get caught up in a “woe is me” mentality and shake our fists at the world over our perceived misfortune. We get caught up in a “I’ll be happy when” line of thought, thinking that happiness is something that happens to us rather than something that we create ourselves.

What so many of us fail to recognize is the tremendous power we have within ourselves. We forget that we have a choice. We forget that despite all the hardships, obstacles and challenges, sometimes we need to quit our complaining and just do it. Simply wishing for a change in our situation won’t make a different. It’s only when you take matters into your own hands and take a risk that you can accomplish anything.

And you can accomplish anything. As English author Sir Thomas Browne says above, we do indeed have the power within us to rise above poverty to discover prosperity. This isn’t just in a monetary sense; it is applicable to every aspect of our lives. When you shift your mindset, you open up a world of opportunity.

Will you come up short? Will you fail? Will you fall flat on your face? Probably. And probably more than once too. That’s not the point. As it has been said so many times before, it’s not how many times you fall down but rather how many times you get back up. And each time you do, you become a little more powerful, a little more experienced. And when you finally do achieve your goals, you’re all the happier for it.

You can choose to be happy if you allow yourself.

The Sir Thomas Browne quote cited above is taken from one of his most famous works: Religio Medici, an unauthorized version of which was originally published in 1642. Roughly translated as The Religion of a Doctor, the book is described as “a spiritual testament and an early psychological self-portrait.” The text explores religion and its relationship with science, a theme common among Browne’s writing.