Chapter 1: What Can Go Right Will Go Right
Excerpt from Chapter 1 of Churchill-Canfield's Law, the new book by Cheryl Canfield and Randal Churchill, published December 2018
Don’t be afraid to demand great things of yourself. Powers which you never dreamed you possessed will leap to your assistance. – Orison S. Marden
When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bounds. Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you will find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. - Patanjali
Good fortune is what happens when opportunity meets with preparation. - Thomas Edison
Love the moment, and the energy of that moment will spread out beyond all boundaries. – Corita Kent
I learned that it is possible for us to create light, sound and order within us no matter what calamity may befall us in the outer world. – Helen Keller
You could cover the whole world with asphalt, but sooner or later green grass would break through. - Ilya Ehrenburg
Cultivate peace of mind which does not separate one’s self from one’s surroundings. When that is done successfully, then everything else follows naturally. - Robert M. Prisig
What we achieve inwardly will change outer reality. - Otto Rank
The world is not to be put in order; the world is order, incarnate. It is for us to harmonize with this order. - Henry Miller
There is no security on this earth, only opportunity. - Douglas MacArthur
In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity. - Albert Einstein
All things are possible until they are proved impossible and even the impossible may only be so, as of now. - Pearl S. Buck
I have become my own version of an optimist. If I can’t make it through one door, I’ll go through another door - or I’ll make a door. Something terrific will come no matter how dark the present. - Rabindranath Tagore
Churchill-Canfield’s Law is the opposite of the concept of Murphy’s Law. Responding to a setback with the idea that anything that can go wrong will go wrong can be discouraging or funny. It can also set up negative expectations. The mind is powerful and what is focused on tends to manifest. Churchill-Canfield’s law is a validation of the power and potential of the mind to move in a positive direction - which is encouraging and more fun –and produces far better possibilities. The very idea of what can go right will go right, may seem provocative considering all the suffering in the world and the challenges we often have in our lives. But when something is considered possible or hopeful, we tend to take action that leads in some constructive direction. If we think something is impossible or have a negative expectancy, chances are we won’t even try.
The concept of Murphy’s Law can be useful, if not taken literally, to encourage caution and thoroughness to protect against potential problems. But even for that purpose, the healthier and ultimately more effective attitude is to frame the challenge in a positive way, to be inspired to strive for excellence and safety, rather than having a negative fear-based perspective that can easily lead to focusing on the negatives in other aspects of our lives.
In many aspects of our daily lives, what can go right, will go right; whatever can go wrong, will go wrong - whichever you believe, you are likely to be right. Our beliefs have to do with the attitudes we have developed and our attitudes have everything to do with the way we perceive and respond to our experiences. Another way to put it is that an optimist acts on causal consciousness (a participant in events) to take whatever action is necessary for the best outcome. A pessimist falls into non-action through victim consciousness (a perception of non-participation) as a recipient of circumstances.
Sometimes it takes something going wrong to call our attention to all that has gone right. Most of the time we have an incredible abundance in many areas of our lives that we’re not even paying attention to or acknowledging. Too often we focus on the negative experiences in our lives while the every day abundance of things going right gets forgotten or isn’t even considered. Or we may have a tendency to put all of our attention on the one thing that isn’t working while not taking notice of all the things that are working. While it is important to look at the thing that’s going wrong for the purpose of doing something about it, we don’t want to get stuck in that focus.
Optimists see the parts of their lives that are working well and what they would like to see happen. Pessimists see the parts that are not working well and what negative possibilities could happen. We want to be realistic and make wise decisions in our lives, and we can learn to do that with an optimistic attitude rather than a pessimistic one. Usually most of the things in our lives are working just fine. Our children are alert and healthy, the car starts fine, we have enough food to eat, heat to keep warm, we have good connections with people, and so on. Pessimists focus on something negative or what negative thing might possibly happen. They wake up wondering what is going to go wrong today, fearing that something will. They’ll be right.
Even when times are difficult, more good things than bad are usually happening at the same time. For example, the Great Depression of the 1930’s brought out the worst and the best in people, depending on where attention was focused. A lot of people took their losses to heart and saw only what was gone. Others looked around and saw that they still had many things that really matter such as a home, family, friends, experience, and an opportunity to start over. Many who grew up during the Depression experienced that people shared more and were less afraid of each other. One woman, for example, remembered that strangers were often welcomed into her home as honored guests. When she and her siblings had birthdays her father would go outside and invite anyone who happened by to come in and join them. Whenever she went to her cousin’s house, rich by her family’s standards, it was considered a welcome treat to be given an orange. As a family they learned to see and appreciate ordinary things.
When you’re thinking in terms of what can go wrong (victim consciousness), you might change lanes while driving and think, “Not again! I change to the faster lane (or checkout line) and it slows down!” There is a miracle going on if you choose to change your focus. In relatively recent human history there were no cars. If you’re driving a car that probably means you own a car. Most people in the world don’t own a car, and compared to most people and especially by the overwhelming standards of history you’re fabulously wealthy.
If the worst thing that happens at the moment is that you change into a lane and it slows down, you’re doing pretty well. You probably have gas in the tank and tread on the tires. You didn’t just get into an accident or have a heart attack or stroke. You’re not getting stopped by a police officer. More good news: If you’re bothered because you’re driving in a lane that has slowed down more than the other lane, then you’re probably not worried about being in a raging blizzard. What a wonderful change of perspective when we wake up to the miraculous world we live in. Are you really on a time schedule at this particular moment or are you in a habit of hurrying? Or maybe you have a job and you’re late. Congratulations, you’ve got a job. And you have a choice. You can get in the habit of leaving earlier and relax.
Universal law affects every level and aspect of reality. These laws are continually working toward balance and harmony. How else do all of the laws of the universe continue for eons? From our perspective, the stars continue to stay in the sky and the days and nights rotate. As human beings, however, we use our minds to work with or against this natural tendency toward harmonious outcomes. Thus we call into play that law of mind: What we focus on we tend to manifest. We learn to balance optimism with realism.
If you recognize the value of being more optimistic but seem to experience the world as if Murphy’s law often rules, science can teach us that such instances are a form of confirmation bias in which someone (at least subconsciously) seeks out evidence to confirm already formed ideas. Similarly, selection bias ensures that those expectations in which Murphy’s law seems to occur are remembered and the many times it was not true are forgotten. Murphy’s law can also be stated in mathematical terms and disproved using the principle of least action.
If you focus on what can go wrong, look for things to go wrong, you will no doubt collect a preponderance of frustrating experiences and be living proof of all the things that aren’t working. If, however, you focus on the best possible outcomes, all the things that can go right, and work to do your part, you may awaken to the myriad of miracles that are waiting for you. It may be that a particular outcome won’t be what you wanted or expected. Chances are it will be better, even if you don’t see that in the beginning.
To check out this hypothesis and see where you stand, recall some of the events in your own life that may not have gone the way you anticipated or wanted at the time. A sweetheart or spouse broke your heart by breaking off the relationship or asking for a divorce and it seemed you might never heal. If you are a pessimist, you may be balking whenever an opportunity comes along to enter a new relationship because you can’t trust another person. Probably you don’t trust your own judgment either. (If I made the wrong choice before I’ll probably do it again.) The world can’t be trusted, for that matter, because bad things happen. If you are an optimist you might realize that you learned some valuable lessons, or if it hadn’t happened you wouldn’t have found the love of your life that came later, or you might not have found your own strength and wholeness outside of a relationship. In the big picture you may now recognize that event as ultimately beneficial. How we perceive the world is often the result of a habit pattern that developed early in life. With awareness, we can choose to develop a positive attitude and perception in life, opening ourselves to wonderful possibility and potential.