Piece of the Action or Peace of Mind

Sailboat

Photo: Safe Harbour by Tamara Ward

Zig Ziglar: ”If standard of living is your major objective, quality of life almost never improves, but if quality of life is your number one objective, your standard of living almost always improves.”

What is it that you focus on the most? If you’re not happy with your current circumstances, it makes sense to set goals to improve them. You have to start from where you are, but where should your emphasis go?

It’s tempting to focus on the money. Many of us have done it at one time or another. I know I have. “If only I had more money…” “When I get more money…” “If I had the money that they have…”

But really, is the money an end result, or just a means to an end? We need money to live in a material world, no question. But basically we want peace of mind. Happiness. Maybe having a big house and new car will give you lasting happiness, and maybe it won’t. But doesn’t it make sense to go directly for the end result?

If you want happiness, cut out the middleman and go for it. Focus on it now, plan for it and take some small action towards it. What really inspires you? What would you do if the money was already taken care of? If you can’t find the time and effort to practice being happy now, how will you do it when you’ve got all the “things”, and you’re still chasing happiness?

Don’t forget to appreciate the good things you already have. It’s sometimes easy to forget, when you get caught up thinking about the future. It may be a cliché, but there are so many things that happiness can’t buy. If your focus is happiness, you’re unlikely to have many of the hang-ups about money that stop you getting it in the first place.

Relax and enjoy the good things in your life now. Then get started on being really happy.

Sorry, Positive Thinking Doesn’t Work

depression

Photo: Depression by George Hodan

Study after study has shown that Positive Thinking doesn’t improve your results. In fact, in many cases it has a negative effect on your outcomes. You can visualize every day, think positively about your life and still be in a worse place than people who don’t.

Why is that? Because many of the people who visualize, and think positively believe that’s all they have to do!

Positive Thinking on its own doesn’t work – because you have to take action to get the right results. Ideally, the “right” sort of action, inspired action. But any action is better than none. Your thoughts are the starting point, but we live in a physical world. Thoughts alone won’t get you there. You have to move your feet. It’s no good buying a new Ferrari if you don’t fuel it up. You don’t have to change the world, but you can make changes to yourself.

Working with thoughts and actions in tandem is where you get the best results. Lot’s of people work hard every day, and have little to show for it. So you need to take time to focus and plan your outcomes and goals. If you don’t know what you really want, how will you know if you get there?

This is where positive thinking and visualizing kick in. You have to practice them regularly because their effects are short lived. But so is cleaning your teeth, and you probably do that twice a day. It’s still a useful activity!

A problem can be, the more time you spend visualizing, the more you notice the difference between your current reality and where you want to be. But if you mix in short term goals, you can see the progress you are making towards them. You can even add goals you have achieved on the list, to remind yourself of your successes.

So make Positive Thinking part of your lifestyle – but don’t forget to take Positive Action!

Gratitude Attitude

smiley   

 Photo: Smiley by Paul Lloyd

One way to feel good is to have a gratitude attitude. Make it part of your routine. Every day and often. Nothing to feel good about? Use your imagination. It’s about putting things into perspective.

We all have endless things to feel grateful for. Take a walk in nature and see the beauty around you. Think about the technology and access to information that we take for granted. If you live in the developed world, you’re richer than most people on the planet. Wherever you live, you can still choose to view life your way. Of course people may say that you should be more “realistic” with your thinking. But who are they to say what is realistic for you? We are each able to frame our own thinking. Every day, or every moment can be a fresh start. You can only ever experience in this current moment, so why not make it feel the way you want it to.

Is it really selfish to put yourself first? Even if it goes against everything we’ve been told, how can you give to others if you’re running on empty? If you make a habit of taking some “me” time, it allows you to recharge your batteries and be more able to live and full life.

You are totally unique. Out of 107 billion people who have ever lived, there will only ever be one “you”. Start from where you are and use what you have. Don’t put off want you want to do. If the task seems daunting, take one step at a time. The only perfect time to start is NOW!

Thought Bubble

bubbles

Photo: Bubbles by George Hodan

 

I believe we are all living in our own ‘thought bubble’ – a ‘bubble’ of consciousness. Nothing can enter without us first creating it on some level. We allow all our experiences to enter either consciously or unconsciously.

How do we monitor what’s in our bubble? It would be draining to try and analyse even our conscious thoughts. It can even be counter-productive. Once you realise that you have created negative thoughts, how does that make you feel? Even worse! How do you ‘dig out’ those negative thoughts anyway?

But in any given moment you know how you feel. If you’re not comfortable with where you are, you can do something to change it. You have a choice here. You’re the one who created the thoughts. So, re-create them. If you’re confronted with a situation you don’t like, re-frame it or shift your focus. Often, it is our resistance to the problem that makes it worse. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re not going to find a solution. If something is draining your energy, put your focus elsewhere. Maybe have a cup of tea. Then come back to your original problem with fresh eyes. Winston Churchill said “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

You won’t be able to improve the economy single-handed, so worrying about it can’t move you forward. You might feel better reminding yourself that you know how to budget, so whatever happens, you won’t go under. Or you may prefer to play a round of golf, because that’s where you relax and have your best ideas, free from the clutter of day-to-day thinking.

So, escapism rules? Lets head for the hills? It’s not about avoiding the issues, it’s about facing them in the frame of mind that gives us the edge. Author Jack London wrote, “Life is not always a matter of holding good cards, but sometimes, playing a poor hand well.” But there has to be more to it than thinking and feeling your way to happiness. You still have to take action.

It’s by taking action that the things you want will come to you. It’s no good expecting to win the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket. As they say, “You’ve got to be in it to win it!” But if working harder was the key to success, there would be a lot more successful people out there. Don’t work harder – work smarter.

The bottom line is: the only meaning that any incident has, is the one we assign to it. Is it a ‘disaster’ or a ‘learning experience’? Which do you prefer?

Positive Thinking

Bright Idea

Photo: Bright Idea by zaldy icaonapo

Positive Thinking is mentally focusing on the best possible outcome from any situation. In whatever form it may appear, all our positive thinking comes down to one thing. Wanting to find happiness.

Creative Visualisation is the technique of mentally picturing an outcome. Using this technique, athletes run the race in their mind, before they leave the starting blocks. Studies by Russian scientists indicated that those who spent 25% of their time training physically and 75% of their time engaged in mental training had more success than those who spent 100% of their time in purely physical training. Visualisation is now considered an essential part of top-level preparation in the world of sport and beyond.

What successful outcomes can be created? Success is subjective, so you get to choose. You decide what success means for you. You are the one creating your own reality with your thoughts and actions. It may be making your first million or taking your last cigarette – whatever matters the most to you. It certainly helps if the desired outcome is closer to your current level of thinking – as there will be less resistance to overcome – but that shouldn’t rule out thinking big… The stronger the emotions linked to the outcome, the more powerful the results.

How does this work? Over time, thoughts become beliefs, and beliefs become actions. Basically, our beliefs are thoughts that we have repeated until they become our truths. Psychologists have found that we tend to act in ways that support our attitudes. If someone assumes they are “stupid”, then they subconsciously behave in a way that confirms that belief.

Our mind also filters our experiences to fit our internal self-image. If you have a positive mind-set, then you tend to accept positive situations and not dismiss them as “flukes”. You will also see negative experiences as temporary obstacles, rather than as evidence of a flawed character.

You don’t have to ignore challenges to overcome them. In fact it can be harmful and counter-productive to do so. But you can re-frame them. The inventor Thomas Edison said “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” He chose to see what others would call a set-back, as part of the pathway to his success.

So, should you be wearing a smiley face and chanting “Om”? If all you’re doing is suppressing natural emotions; this is not a healthy place to be. It may be appropriate and necessary to work through negative feelings. But positive thinking gives you an alternative. Think of it as having a new toolkit in the garage.

So, is the glass half full or half empty? You get to choose!