There are things in the world that we all pretty much agree are positive: who doesn't like the smell of warm cookies, the feel of a cozy blanket, or the sound of birds singing up the sun?

And there are things we generally agree are negative. The smell of rotting garbage, the ache of heartbreak, and the sound of fingernails being dragged down a chalkboard are pretty universally disliked.

But things get tricky sometimes. Some people love thunderstorms; they find them exciting and energizing. Some people don't like storms at all: maybe they find then scary or depressing. So then, are thunderstorms positive or negative? Well, it depends on the person. It depends on their past experience around storms, and their personal beliefs about thunder and lightning and heavy rain and winds. It would make sense to say, then, that the storm itself is neutral and each person judges it as positive or negative according to their personal biases.

Let's go back to our positive experience examples: the smell of cookies, a cozy blanket, and birdsong. I have a friend who worked at a bakery for years and her stomach still turns when she smells baked goods; it reminds her of hard work and early hours and the tons of the pastry she ate while she worked there. Sometimes a cozy blanket is nice, but not when you're already warm or have a sunburn. A lot of people enjoy birdsong but I often find it too high-pitched; it grates on my eardrums and I don't enjoy the experience at all. In each of these cases, personal bias shifts what is commonly a positive experience to a negative one. It seems to me that every experience is neutral until we project our own perspectives and biases onto it.

There are some pretty exciting things that can happen once we see that all of our experiences are, in reality, neutral. We can recognize our biases and do our best to see beyond them. We can spend time looking at our beliefs and how they affect our experience of the world, and decide whether we want to keep those beliefs or change them. We can learn to accept other people's experiences as valid for them, regardless of the facts of the experience, because they also have their own perspectives and biases.

Our minds have the power to color everything we experience, but we have the power to choose the paints it uses. Why not choose the colors that serve us and the people around us, empower growth, and promote peace?

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Thank you very relatable sermon

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Thank you for this! It is always a good reminder to stop playing the game of black and white.

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