We are living in a most interesting time. Daily, waves of bad news pound against our already badly damaged economy shaking the fragile underpinnings of business and our personal lives. When we personally experience any of these very real, yet unwanted difficulties, we can easily be swept away into the depths of anxiety, frustration and despair.

It is difficult enough to swim against the tide, let go of the anxiety and climb up and out of these circumstances without adding the burden of destructive and unhealthy thought processes. When we engage in destructive thought processes, we engage in fantasy and attempt to put tomorrow's gold in today's purse. We concern ourselves with events, which we may never witness, or we torment ourselves with problems that may never come to pass, that is until they finally become self-fulfilling prophesies.

Og Mandino writes about these unhealthy and destructive habits of thinking, "I have surrendered my free will to the years of accumulated habits and the past deeds of my life have already marked out a path which threatens to imprison my future."

If we get swept into this dark dungeon of the mind it can add enormous amounts of unwanted stress to our lives. Unnecessary stress often results in decreased creativity and productivity, two of the most critical ingredients of success. The inevitable result of these decreases is simply more stress.

In our personal relationships this level of stress can impair our clarity. We can quickly become short-sighted and short-tempered. This slippery slope can destroy commitment and trust, dampen if not destroy much needed intimacy and rip apart once loving relationships. Innocent children often pay the highest price when we are myopic.

However, when we learn to think constructively, we receive inspired ideas, impressions and solutions to problems. This clear vision ignites our passion, which drives our focus, discipline, effort and action. As we live in the now in passion-driven action, people are put on our path whom we can serve and who can serve us. Our natural genius is awakened and accessed. We create tangible results and experience a sense of accomplishment. Our self-esteem heals and our confidence is restored.

When faced with challenges, we create the most we can with what we have been given and see opportunity even if it is limited. We feel connected and alive. In spite of firestorms of life that may be raging around us, we are able to stand with confidence and shout as Albert in the movie, The Count of Monte Cristo, "Do your worst, for I will do mine!"

Viktor Frankl wrote, immediately following his release from a concentration camp, "Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances."

Viktor shared this timely principle in a most poignant context. While in the camp he lost his pregnant wife, his mother and father and several good friends. They were all killed. His life's work, an exhaustive manuscript, was torn up in his face while vile and angry tormenters cursed and scoffed. Everything he had lived for, his family and career, was brutally destroyed.

Viktor and others who were spared from the gas chambers were assigned to grueling work details — an interminable sentence to hell. Beaten down by the shear gravity of their desperate and dire circumstances and with no hope in sight, many gave up. They simply died in their sleep. However, Viktor noted that those who used their minds to vividly visualize constructively, created a clear vision that gave them purpose in their suffering and joy in their journey despite all the catastrophic losses. Many survived.

We would never want to compare the challenges of our day with the horror of a concentration camp. It would be an insult to humanity. What we can do is learn this valuable lesson. In spite of the unspeakable, many still made the conscious decision to exercise the last of the human freedoms — to consciously choose one's attitude in any circumstance, and Viktor meant "any circumstance."

From his words and actions and all those who courageously joined him in this conscious decision to think constructively and live, we can take courage. We can learn how to be okay while standing in the middle of the firestorms of life. When we do, we are free to be in creation — mentally and physically.

To think constructively, find peace of mind and stay in creation, we may have to change some of our old, deeply seated and unhealthy habits of thinking. James Allen wrote, "Let a man radically alter his thoughts and he will be astonished at the rapid transformation it will effect in the material conditions of his life."

It is time to learn the truth about vivid visualization. It is time to know how to use this powerful gift constructively to manifest inspired ideas that will ignite passion and drive action. Let us learn the truth, alter old and destructive habits of thinking and experience the joy and freedom that will inevitably be ours.

Og Mandino says it best in his perennial bestselling book, The Greatest Salesman in the World, "I will begin to awake, each morning, with a vitality I have never known before. My vigor will increase, my enthusiasm will rise, my desire to meet the world will overcome every fear I once knew at sunrise, and I will be happier than I ever believed it possible to be in this world of strife and sorrow."