A guest post by Tim Brownson
The anomaly with self development is that it is one of the easiest things out there to explain, but one of the most difficult to implement.
There is a book called ‘As A Man Thinketh’ that was written around the turn of the 20th century by English philosopher James Allen. The book runs to less than 100 pages and some of that was padding because you can almost get what you need to know from the title.
Your thoughts are you.
Your thoughts dictate the quality of your life, so if you can change your thoughts you can change your life. And before you start racking your mind for situations that contradict what I’m saying, don’t waste your time, because there aren’t any this side of death.
I could literally fill a book with examples of people that have prospered in situations that would have caused most of us to crumble. And the reason they prospered is because they refused to attach the ‘normal’ meanings to their situations.
Probably the most extreme example of this was Victor Frankl. He used the time the Nazis afforded him in 4 separate concentration camps during WW2 wisely. He decided that how he thought about the situation was what dictated how he felt about it and not vice versa. So he chose to concentrate on learning and focusing on how he could use that learning to help others after the war.
He also noticed that the people who didn’t adopt his approach of focusing on what he had to live for and who instead adopted a victim mindset didn’t last long. Now don’t misunderstand me, of course millions of Jews were victims, but that is not the same as adopting a victim mindset. The latter creates learned helplessness and it is very difficult for people to bounce back from that.
This should give anybody hope because Frankl wasn’t wired up any different to you and I. Well actually that’s not technically true, he was wired up differently. But he’d done much of the wiring himself, just like we all do.
About 50% of your personality and happiness levels are set by your genetics. A measly 10% is dictated by your environment such as where you live, what job you do, how much money you earn and your friends and family etc.
Yet so many people spend so much time trying to adjust the 10% to feel better about life when that is way harder than changing the way they choose to look at things. Change your thoughts change your life.
The final 40% is where it’s really at though.
This is where your attitude and thus your thoughts (because they dictate your attitude) become so important. For the vast majority of people there is enough wiggle room in that 40% to beat off genetics and environment.
But as I said at the beginning, that’s the hard part because most of your thoughts go on at an unconscious level. Your unconscious mind is incredibly energy efficient so those thoughts can loop round and round using hardly any of your mental resources. However, when you drag a new thought to your conscious mind things change radically.
Your conscious mind isn’t at all energy efficient, in fact just the opposite. So thinking something new, no matter what that is, takes energy. And that is the reason why people can change their outlook, but rarely do.
It’s no different to wanting to get physically fit. To do so you have to work out and working out takes effort. So intervening on a regular basis and changing the way you look at things so you feel more empowered will take substantial effort to begin with.
But like going to the gym, the rewards can be huge. It’s just a question of whether you can be committed enough to do the work to carve out the life you want for yourself. Or whether you’d rather just presume this is how it is and there is nothing you can do to change things.
About the Author
Tim Brownson is a Life Coach, NLP Master Practitioner and published author who specializes in unsticking people. He also owns the A Daring Adventure blog where he doesn’t take life too seriously and isn’t afraid to call a spade a spade.