When I got my first paid job as a counselor, I was 23 years old and fresh out of college where I had majored in Theater Arts and English Literature. I was hired to work in a "partial hospitalization program", also known as a "day treatment program". What I did not know at the time was that it was basically a warehouse for mentally ill people, and patients were not expected to get well or even improve during their time in the program. Coming in unaware of that expectation allowed me to work with patients with enthusiasm and a mind wide open to possibilities, and several of my patients did improve, somewhat to the surprise of supervising psychiatrists. One ex-patient sent me a postcard several years later. He was a young man diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic with 2 suicide attempts and several years of inpatient hospitalization in his history. He wrote to thank me for challenging his negative beliefs and encouraging him to think that he could create what he wanted in his life. He wrote that he had held his current job for 2 years, he had been painting again and had sold several of his paintings, that he had regained custody of his daughters, and he was happy. This was a man who had been on a path to spend the rest of his life institutionalized. As MaryAnne Williamson teaches, “Change your mind, change your life”.
As we enter this holiday season, allow yourself to stay open to the possibility that wondrous things can happen if you let them. Bring that attitude to your gatherings with family and friends. If we expect things to be the way they have always been, we push the outcome in that direction. Ray Bradbury wrote "The best scientist is open to experience and begins with romance - the idea that anything is possible.” What might happen if you believed that?