Sunday, May 21, 2006

Know yourself

A basic principle of success is self-knowledge. Your mind creates your reality.

Have you ever said, "I don't like Mondays!"? I say, that is something you have made up. Mondays do not have a particular personality, at least they don't until you make one up for them. I say, any day that ends in a "y" is a good one. And guess what, they are!

If we expect something, our minds make it true. When we say "I'm having a bad day", then every bad thing that happens is noted and remembered. Then we can think back and recall perfectly all the horrible things that happened to us. Blessings are forgotten or dismissed and we have a sour taste in our mouth, and our head.

What we carry in our minds defines our lives, and our future.

You become what you think about every day

When I first heard this, I thought "Exactly!" If every day we think of ourselves as people that are worth $X thousands per year, buried in debt and helpless to ever change our situation... then that is what we become. We believe what we tell ourselves and create that reality in our lives.

So now what? Can we change? Of course we can! Becoming aware of this principle gives us the power to do something about it. But we can't change overnight. We need to know that we can change and the direction we need to go.

If we leave Winnipeg for Vancouver, but wake up one morning in Montreal... are we forever lost and doomed to failure? Not at all! We recognize our failure, pick ourselves up off the road and point our car west. Every kilometer in the right direction is a positive one.

In order to learn to think correctly, we need to get a number of things sorted out. Let's start with something that will have an immediate, positive impact on our outlook on life and they way we interact with others.

Focus on the good

A Yiddish folk tale:

An old man sat outside the walls of a great city.

When travelers approached, they would ask the old man,
"What kind of people live in this city?"

And the old man would answer,
"What kind of people live in the place where you came from?"

If the travelers answered,
"Only bad people live in the place where we came from,"
the old man would reply,
"Continue on; you will find only bad people here."

But if the travelers answered,
"Good people live in the place where we came from,"
then the old man would say,
"Enter, for here, too, you will find only good people."

You see, you find what you want to find. Your brain contains a Reticular Activating System (RAS) that processes sensory data and determines which information is worthy of notice.

Ronald Bailey described it as “[The reticular formation] alerts the brain to incoming information from the senses, and from the centers of thought, memory and feeling. More than that, it adjudicates the relative importance of that information. . . In a way the RAS is like a vigilant secretary, sorting out the trivia from the incoming messages.”

You may have noticed that when you are considering making a major purchase (a new house or a car), you start to notice a lot of references to houses or cars. You see more ads for the item you are seeking, you hear people discussing them, newspapers, magazines and television shows are focusing on the item you are interested in. That is your RAS making your mind aware of environmental information relating to something you consider important.

When you finally decide to buy that yellow SmartCar, all you see on the road are yellow SmartCars. It isn't that they weren't there before, your mind just didn't think it was important enough to tell you!

So focus on the good, lock out negative thoughts. Your RAS will reward you by supressing the effect of negative things and bringing positive messages to your mind.

"Hi, how are you?" "I'm excellent!"

Tell someone how much you value them as a friend, employee, co-worker.

Finally, here's the dirty little secret about focusing on the good... even if you don't believe it will make a difference, it will.

If you are reading this and your mind is full of "what load of pig feathers!" and "what shade or rose-coloured glasses is this guy wearing?" I dare you to prove me wrong. But you need to be honest with yourself.

For 21 straight days you need to always tell people you are excellent... even if you really feel like the last coffee grounds at the bottom of your mug. Focus on the good, eliminate the negative. Let me know if people treat you differently. Let me know if you find yourself having to try less hard to supress those negative thoughts. Let me know if you feel better.

My story... after I had been making a conscious effort to focus on the good for about 60 days, I met up with a woman I used to work with. We were both participating in a project for our children's school. After our working together for an hour or so, she turned to me and said, "Aren't you relentlessly positive!" To which I replied, "Yes, I am, thank you."

I leave you with a quote from Catherine Pulsifer:

"We all face challenges in our lives. But how we handle these challenges,
how we look at life is truly what matters.
We can all look at life one of two ways:
1. we can focus on the good and move forward, or,
2. we can focus on the negative and wallow in self pity."


At March 21, 2007 12:02 AM, Anonymous Gab said...

Chanced upon your blog by accident. Gotta say I like this entry. Makes me feel rejuvenated since I'm anything but positive. Shall drill that into my mind to be positive.

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