“You already have inner strength within you, and all you have to do is to cultivate it; and it starts with believing that you can take control of your own life.” ~Mia Tomikawa
Master Okawa wrote the book to encourage everyone to get through the inevitable crises that pop up in people’s lives by cultivating a mind strong enough to manage these. Mia mentions that there are life crises that take place in particular in the decades of one’s life - in childhood, for example, there’s the family squabble or crisis; in one’s twenties, there’s the job crisis and in one’s eighties,there’s the coming to terms with destiny. Master Okawa notes that our minds and our souls are things which will last beyond death, and cultivating a strong mind enables one to handle the challenges that life throws one’s way. Mia also notes that, in Japanese, the word “mind” actually encompasses the mind, the heart and the soul, which are a person’s total being.
According to Master Okawa, who bases this structure on Eastern philosophy, there are three stages of growth for all human beings:
Becoming a sharp, intelligent and capable person, which manifests when one is young.
Becoming dynamic, which is necessary to become a leader who can work with and guide others.
Becoming calmer and more profound, which is necessary for one’s old age.
To create a strong mind, one needs to believe and have faith in oneself, first off. This requires having faith that new paths will open up as one lives, and becoming more courageous and being forgiving are two ways by which one can cultivate a strong mind. Forgiving is a way to let go of resentment and hurt, for the grudge that one holds against another will torment one within, and thus weaken one. Taking responsibility for one’s life is another key to creating a strong mind, as blaming others or events for one’s lack of happiness removes one’s capability to be happy.
The fear of failure and making mistakes is ever present, and this is due to one’s desire to protect oneself or one’s ego. Overcoming this fear requires a change in mindset, where one sees the failures and challenges of life as lessons given and situations to be learned from, rather than the “bad” thing that these are commonly made out to be. Master Okawa notes Thomas Edison as an example of someone who never saw failures or mistakes but instead saw opportunities to learn from, and this is the perspective necessary to create a strong mind. Not having challenges in one’s life means that one will never grow or find true happiness, as growth enables that.
Parenting is important where giving a child the foundations necessary to create a strong mind are concerned. Parents need to enable and educate children to feel responsible for their own lives to create a sense of duty and responsibility, and Mia notes that kids in the United States are more responsible and independent when compared to kids in Japan. She notes that, in Japan, the parents make all the decisions sometimes to the point of spoiling them, so that they don’t take responsibility for themselves.
One’s accomplishments can create a bias against others, where one judges others by one’s own strong points. Master Okawa notes that people need to be more accepting of others who might seem weak from one’s point of view, as those others have their own gifts to bring. Praising others is part of having a strong mind, particularly as doing so enables others to become present to their own capabilities and to connect with one. This is, admittedly, hard to do where people who have hurt someone is concerned, but in the long run, according to Master Okawa, this will create a connection between the people concerned. This is not easy to do, where people who are hurtful are concerned, and Mia points out that practicing this is a process much like working out in the gym, where one’s muscles hurt the first few times but become stronger and more capable over time.
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