IT'S ALL IN YOUR MIND
Updated: Jun 1, 2021
What if the key to everything—to happiness, success, good relationships, purpose, joy, satisfaction, and any other meaningful thing you can think of—is in your mind? What if it is, quite literally, a matter of what you think?
And I don’t mean what you think ABOUT whatever it is. I mean that the way you think, on a regular basis—the quality, focus, and subject matter of your thoughts—will CREATE the circumstances you find yourself in.
What if, to have a different life, one need merely to think different thoughts?
I cringe to use the word “merely,” by the way. After all, do you know what it takes to direct your thoughts ONLY toward those outcomes you desire? Have you ever tried it?
If you’ve ever attempted to meditate, you probably have a sense of how hard it is to CLEAR your thoughts. To let your mind grow calm. To focus your attention on something as simple and precise as the rhythm of your breathing, or the sound of a single word repeated over and over.
Imagine then, how difficult it must be to manage your thoughts so rigorously that you allow no intrusion—or, at least, no LASTING intrusion—of any thought that you do not actively choose to hold.
Ok, to be fair, I don’t think it’s actually possible. What I DO think is possible is a lifelong practice of progressively getting better and better at managing our thoughts and directing them toward the outcomes we desire. And I absolutely believe that the better we get at this practice, the more we will see in our lives those things that we have always dreamed of.
In his small manifesto “As a Man Thinketh” (penned around 1903), James Allen wrote: “You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.”
Whoa. Stop and sit with that one for a minute. Or two. (See if you can!)
Do you suppose it’s true? If you find yourself hoping it is, that says something about you. What if you find yourself hoping it ISN’T true? What does that say?
I like to think of it as a challenge. Here’s what I envision a person could do to test this idea:
1. Set an actual, verbal, or written goal to manage your thoughts. (You can word this any way you want: “I will watch my thoughts,” “I will direct my thoughts,” “I will be clear in my thoughts on those things that I WANT in my life,” “I will avoid thoughts that do not serve my highest good.” You get the idea).
2. Set reminders for yourself so that if you get sidetracked, or forget, you can bring yourself back on course. You can write it on your “things to do” list; you can set an alarm on your phone; you can have a reminder pop up on your computer; you can wear a rubber band around your wrist. Whatever works for you. I write it in my weekly goals, put it on my “things to do” list, and share it with an accountability partner.
3. Track your progress. Goodness! This is a technique that works for ANYTHING! If you want to lose weight or get healthy, you track what you eat. If you want to train for a marathon, you track your miles. If you’re a writer, you track how many words you write in a day. If you want to manage your thoughts, you track how it’s going. This has the added benefit of keeping you focused on this most important of practices and re-motivating you to keep at it.
4. Record and celebrate your success! (Oh my gosh, WHAT IF THIS WORKS???)
Hey, I don’t actually know if you’ll have success, but I suspect strongly that you will. Personally, I’m planning to double down on this practice. I REALLY want to see what happens if I’m consistent about focusing my thoughts toward my greater goals and purpose and relinquishing those thoughts that entertain fear, doubt, failure, victimhood, and general negativity.
Anyone with me? I’d love to hear about your challenges and successes if you take this on!