Contributing to a better mental atmosphere

What might happen if we more often considered what kind of atmosphere we’re contributing to at home, at work, out running errands, or even at the polls? Wherever we find ourselves, each of us has a God-given ability to express kindness, compassion, and patience.

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We have a favorite Chinese restaurant we go to where not only is the food excellent, but the atmosphere of consistent kindness, friendliness, and readiness to serve keeps us going back.

Atmosphere is an everyday fundamental. For example, while waiting in a long line, we can be patient or impatient. I have to admit it has gone both ways, in my case! But I have seen how expressing patience can help take an edge off a generally impatient atmosphere.

With polarization, division, and misunderstandings filling the airwaves, the global emotional thermostat appears to be turned up. I can’t help wondering what might happen if we more often asked ourselves, and answered honestly, what kind of atmosphere we are contributing to at home, at work, or out running errands – and whether we are helping to make it a better one.

Something that has helped me to more effectively do this in my own life is to consider things from a spiritual basis. For instance, this verse in the Amplified Bible indicates that our real atmosphere is God-given and spiritual: “For in Him we live and move and exist [that is, in Him we actually have our being],... For we also are His children’” (Acts 17:28).

This throws light on atmosphere as steady and stable – sustained by God, divine Spirit. And what makes up the atmosphere of Spirit? The infinite spiritual qualities that make up the nature of God as Love and Mind. Peace, joy, and purity permeate this atmosphere.

The understanding that it’s natural for us to express such qualities as God’s spiritual creation can help uplift our surroundings. It empowers us to express characteristics such as kindness, compassion, and patience. We realize that because these qualities are derived from God, fear and anger have no true authority or legitimacy to dominate and pervade the atmosphere of our daily lives.

Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science – which is solidly rooted in the Bible – highlighted God’s nature when she wrote: “Spirit is symbolized by strength, presence, and power, and also by holy thoughts, winged with Love. These angels of His presence, which have the holiest charge, abound in the spiritual atmosphere of Mind, and consequently reproduce their own characteristics” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 512).

Christian Science explains that angels are not beings with wings, but pure thoughts from God, dwelling within the atmosphere of the divine Mind. We can pray for all our thoughts to be inspired by this Mind. Such good, beneficent, powerful thoughts are always coming to us from God, bringing protection, purity, and healing, wherever we find ourselves.

Here’s a small but meaningful example. My husband and I were driving on a rainy day, when suddenly we felt the impact of another car hitting the back of ours.

Before getting out of the car to talk with the other party involved, we prayed to express calm toward them.

When we approached the other driver, she started yelling and blaming us for what had happened. But instead of being drawn into an argument, we simply expressed regret for what had happened. It wasn’t that we were capitulating or refusing to stand up for ourselves. Rather, we felt so clearly that our thoughts were “winged with Love,” that we knew the pure atmosphere of Spirit was enveloping all of us, this other woman included.

The effect was immediate. The driver stopped yelling. The whole tone of a condemning, angry atmosphere completely dissolved. When the police arrived, we all had a harmonious discussion about next steps. We were soon on our way, feeling completely at peace.

Science and Health states: “An odor becomes beneficent and agreeable only in proportion to its escape into the surrounding atmosphere. So it is with our knowledge of Truth” (p. 128). Each of us can take this to heart, sincerely striving to think and act from the standpoint of the spiritual reality: that the atmosphere of Spirit, Love, is everywhere and always blesses. In this way, we can’t help but contribute to a better atmosphere in the world around us.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.