Are you insane…plagued by “persistent mental disorder or derangement”? I know. It’s a crazy question. Catch-22.

There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.

“That’s some catch, that Catch-22,” he observed.
“It’s the best there is,” Doc Daneeka agreed.

—Joseph Heller, Catch-22

So, “Are you insane?” really is a crazy question. If you answer “yes,” you’re not. You can’t be. Only a mentally stable, rationally grounded person would say that, so obviously you’re not insane. But….

I am. (And I’ll bet anything you are, too—even if you’re not a full-blown dysfunctional.) And I want to stop the insanity! My insanity. Yours, too (if you want).

The exact nature of my “persistent mental disorder” is a habit of mind I’ve had nigh all these past 50 years, the ignorance of which has killed countless ideas and splendid plans.

Man, they said we better
Accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with Mister
In-Between
No, do not mess with Mister
In-Between
Do you hear me, hmm?

No, Bing. I didn’t. I mean, I heard you, but this voice inside my head said that what you sang was full of adult male bovine mammal poop, so I went on back to worrying about this or that, doubting, being scared of what bad thing was gonna happen next or a couple of nexts from now. In short, I accentuated the negative.

That’s the “insanity” that I’ve got to and I’m going to stop.

The glass is half-empty. Keep pouring. It’s never enough for me. (Or good enough for you. You choose yours.)

I don’t care how I got this way. It doesn’t matter anyway. I know that whatever happened way back when I was a little kid, that “event” itself wasn’t the big deal. The big deal was what I made up about what happened and what that all meant about who and how life is and I really am—and then I spent 50 years thinking about that, focusing on that and feeling lousy about that!

Besides, all of that re-doing childhood stuff is from the Land of Shrinks and I’m not going there. (Not even for a vacation.) This whole insanity mess is something I created; if I want to change it, I’ve got to be responsible. I mean, who’s mind is it anyway? They’re my thoughts. Nobody’s thinking me. And if my negative thoughts are my insanity, then I’ve got to Accentuate the positive / Eliminate the negative in my own mind.

Every man is where he is by the law of his being; the thoughts which he has built into his character have brought him there, and in the arrangement of his life there is no element of chance, but all is the result of a law which cannot err….

The exact nature of my "persitant mental disorder" is a habit of mind I've had to nigh all these past 50 years, the ignorance of which has killed countless ideas and splendid plans.

Man is buffeted by circumstances so long as he believes himself to be the creature of outside conditions, but when he realizes that he is a creative power, and that he may command the hidden soil and seeds of his being out of which circumstances grow; he then becomes the rightful master of himself.

Every thought-seed sown or allowed to fall into the mind, and to take root there, produces its own, blossoming sooner or later into act, and bearing its own fruitage of opportunity and circumstance. Good thoughts bear good fruit, bad thoughts bad fruit.

—As a Man Thinketh,
James Allen

Bad thoughts, bad fruit. Good thoughts, good fruit. Have you heard all of this before? I have. But now it’s really gotten my attention.

Bad thoughts all by themselves are no biggie. Everybody has a bad thought or three. It’s the focus on them that’s the big deal. That’s what I’ve been doing. Focusing on what’s missing…what’s wrong…the problems…what I don’t want. You too?

See, I thought that’s what I had to do to fix everything. To make it all right. Wrong! What that kind of thinking (and the bad feelings that always come with it) does is beget more of the same. “Bad thoughts bad fruit.”

No, no, this isn’t Pollyanna, head stuck in the sand (or somewhere else). If it’s a bad thing, tell the truth about what’s so—but don’t focus on it. Focus on the good things: what you want to happen. Focus on your vision. Feel how great it is to be, do, have what you want. Focus there.

Maybe you can afford the luxury of a negative thought. I can’t. I won’t. I’m stopping the insanity now.

JOHN MILTON FOGG
is the author of the million-selling book, The Greatest Networker in the
World, and founder of the “Greatest Networker” online community
www.greatestnetworker.com