Tag Archives: Thoughts

How To Change Your Habitual Thinking to Powerfully Improve Your Life

It has long been recognized by many guru’s writers and sages throughout the centuries that the most certain to create the future you’d like is to manage the thoughts you are having now. Emerson wrote that is what he thinks about, most of the time. Napoleon Hill wrote that all great accomplishments of man have started with pure thought energy. The classic book “As A Man Thinketh” is yet another example of how your thoughts have a powerful and direct effect on the quality of your life.

What do you do if your thoughts are always focused on negative, fear or anxiety based images? What if your mind is filled with worry and negativity most of the time? Does that mean you are doomed to live a life filled with unhappiness and emotional pain?

I’m sure that you’ll acknowledge that you can’t be very happy if you are always thinking unhappy thoughts. Those that have happy and fulfilling lives are usually thinking happy and fulfilling thoughts. Because we all live in the same world, it would seem logical that if you changed your thoughts to a more positive perspective, you should see a slow change for the better.

But it’s not so simple. Thoughts are very sneaky, and have a way of running away from you when you are not paying attention. Luckily, just like any other bodily function, if you want to change a behavior, you only need to practice the new behavior long enough before it takes over the old behavior.

Unfortunately, for some this may take some time. But it is worth it, as the time you spend to change the quality of the thoughts you habitually think will have a drastic and profound effect on your daily life.

One powerful way to do this is to simply reverse your thoughts whenever you catch yourself. Simply flip everything around in your imagination that is negative, so it becomes positive.

For example, if you are having recurring worries about being fired, and you keep imagining in your boss calling you into his office and laying waste to your income, flip it around. Imagine the boss calling you in and giving you a raise and a promotion. This may seem a little uncomfortable, even impossible at first. You’d be surprised how habitual thoughts can seemingly dominate your mind to the point of not allowing any others in.

But the more you practice, and really force yourself to get into the new thought; it will slowly become a habit. It’s important to really flood your mind with good thoughts and feelings when you are thinking the new thought, that way you will train your brain to think those instead.

Because the brain naturally gravitates towards fear and protection, it might seem that the power of your new “forced” positive emotions don’t stand a chance against the comfortable worry and anxiety. That’s ok. Just like switching from eating McDonalds for lunch every day to eating turkey on whole wheat takes time, there eventually comes a point where you will crave the turkey on whole wheat, and despite even the thought of a Big Mac.

And so it is with your thoughts. The more you practice really feeling good with the opposite of your old anxiety driven fears, and quicker you will start to think those on a regular basis.

And when you start thinking positive thoughts on a regular basis, they will become unconscious and automatic. And that is when you can start creating new things in your life, almost like magic.
But it really isn’t magic. When you habitually think good, positive thoughts, that will come across in your behavior and your speech, and others will pick up on it. Your relationships will improve; you’ll get noticed more at work, strangers will smile at you more often.

It’s important to distinguish real, automatic deep positive thinking form Pollyanna style positive thinking. That usually comes across as fake and insincere, and I’m sure you know when somebody is projecting that kind of “happiness.”

The happiness you are shooting for is deep and automatic, and very subtle. And very powerful. Which is why you should make it a habit.

So remember, whenever you find your mind spiraling downward into a pit of depression and despair, just flip everything around in your mind. And be patient, as the outside world usually takes a while to catch up. Hang in there.

Listen to Your Amazing Brain

Sometimes when you come across something new, some of us can have a tendency to compare it to things that you imagine that it is similar to, even though you haven’t decided to spend a lot of time investigating this. Neuro- scientists believe that because of the way the brain categorizes things fairly quickly, sometimes we put things into categories that they don’t really belong to. They tell us that this unconscious behavior is a leftover from evolution, and that while it served us well for hundreds and thousands of years it can give us trouble in modern society.

There is much disagreement on how “blank” of a slate we start out in life. There are the scientists that believe we are completely blank, and everything is culturally programmed into us. Then there are those that believe we start out with some kind of a filing system already in place, but it is completely empty. So that when we grow and move through life and experience new things, this pre-formatted filing system is filled up.

Whether we start completely blank, or start with a pre formatted filing system, most agree that we end up with some kind of system where we have categories our minds that things we experience gets put into. One of the fascinating aspects of this is that most of the time, our pre conscious processor takes the external stimulation, and decides on what category it belongs to (whatever it is!) before we are even consciously aware of what is going on. This is where those uncomfortable emotions come from when they seemingly come out of nowhere. Our brain sees something in the outside world, and decides it belongs in a category of danger or trauma, and that touches of a cascade of emotions. This is what people mean sometimes when they say they are “blindsided.”

For example, lets say you used to be in a relationship with somebody. It was going really well, and then suddenly it ended, to much emotional pain. That was years ago. You’ve completely forgotten about it (or so you think!) and you’re out walking around. You see somebody that doesn’t even remind you of them, so you don’t consciously think of them, but they happen to have the same kind of poodle that your ex had. The important thing to remember is you don’t realize any of this consciously. Your pre conscious processor sees the person, their clothes, and the poodle, and it searches your memory for similar items. It comes up with the poodle, and the corresponding feelings that the poodle unconsciously reminds you of. It’s important to keep in mind that the actual memories don’t necessarily come up, but the transient emotions do. So all of a sudden you’ll be feeling kind of icky for no good reason.

The brain is amazing this way. Sometimes stray thoughts will pop up out of nowhere, thoughts you haven’t had in many years. And although you realize you are thinking those old thoughts, you can’t put your finger on what triggered them. Your brain is always sorting through everything that comes in through your five senses, and comparing it to everything that’s ever happened to you, to decide where to put the information in your brain, and whether or not to bring it to your conscious awareness. It does this in a fraction of a second. So when you have those stray thoughts, something you saw, heard, smelled, or physically felt or tasted somehow reminded of you of some aspect of it. And our incredibly fast and incredibly smart brain has decided that there is some reason it’s given you the memory.

So what do you do? What do you do when you are eating chocolate ice cream and suddenly you have a childhood memory that has nothing whatsoever to do with ice cream? Simply accept the memory, and ask yourself if you have any unfinished business regarding that memory. Do you need to forgive somebody? Do you need to release some emotion so you can get on with your life? Do you need to remember to do something? Sometimes those memories are a warning of something that is coming up that you need to be careful about.

Once I was having a recurring memory of Magic Johnson when he pulled his hamstrings in the NBA finals several years ago. I had no idea why, but it flashed in my mind a few times over the course of several days. Later that week, I was in a situation where running outside was an appropriate behavior. When the time came for me to run, I took off sprinting. Within a few strides, I felt a sharp pull in my hamstring.

Had I been paying attention, I would have realized that my brain was looking into the future (I already knew I would be in the running situation) and warning me to stretch, or be careful, or go slow. Because I ignored the warning, I suffered the consequences.

The brain is a wonderful tool designed by our creator, or millions of years of evolution, or Mother Nature, whichever you choose to believe. Scientists are only beginning to understand how it operates. But that doesn’t mean you can use those seemingly random thoughts you get from time to time. You brain is trying to tell you something. See what happens when you listen to your own wisdom.

Pay Attention to the Wisdom of Your Mind

As you are sitting there now, reading these words, feeling those feelings in that chair, you can begin to notice the sounds around you. And as you expand your awareness to the sounds around you, you might begin to notice certain sensations that you hadn’t noticed before. The feeling in your left leg, the feeling behind your right ear, the sensations on the bottom of your feet. And as you feel those sensations, and hear those sounds around you, you may begin to remember memories of things that happened before. Memories that you hadn’t remembered to think about until now. Happy memories, pleasant memories. You might begin to recall ideas you had from before that you hadn’t begun to follow through on yet. Ideas like this one, or that one, that seemed like a wonderful thing, a wonderful idea of something that you could do or say or express, and then somehow something else happened, and that wonderful idea went to the back of your mind, where it’s been waiting ever since, for you to come here and remember it.

One of the good things about memories is that the really good ones have a tendency to come out more often than others. Some of these disguise themselves as “bad” memories that you don’t want to think about. Like one day you’ll be doing something that you normally do every day, and one of “those” thoughts will pop into your head and you’ll realize after you’ve thought this thought for a few moments that it isn’t a particularly happy thought, and you wonder why it keeps running around and around in your head if you don’t like thinking it.

The reason I use the word ‘disguise’ is because they are actually trying to help you in some way. Sometimes a thought will origin with the intention of pointing out something to you, and it will grab whatever metaphorical memories that it thinks will help you out the most. Often times these metaphorical memories are rather mysterious, and instead of looking for the underlying message, we tend to try and force the ‘bad’ thought out of our minds.

I had a friend once that was a really spiritual person. She was always wearing different colored crystals and practicing different forms of meditation. I went to a lecture once with her of this guy that was some mystical guru from India. It was at this new age center downtown in the city I was living at the time. There were several very interesting people there, and they were all from different disciplines and areas of expertise. It was interesting because the guru from India gave his message using lots of metaphorical terms that could be use to apply to many different situations. After the lecture, we went out with a couple of her friends to a Pakistani restaurant nearby. It’s interesting when you find things are close by that you didn’t know before. Kind of like finding related things when you didn’t have any idea these things have anything to do with each other.

So while we were eating, one of her friends started telling me about his spiritual guide. Now as soon as he started talking about a spiritual guide, I was reminded of an interesting religious ceremony I witnessed once while in Taiwan. I was at friends house, which happened to be next door to a temple. My friend’s uncle owned the temple, and my friend and her family lived in the house. One of her older relatives (I think) stood in front of the alter at the temple, and then started mumbling a bunch of really incoherent speech, at least it was incoherent to me. My friend calmly explained that he was channeling entities from some other Buddhist plain of existence. I wasn’t sure what to think about this so I just kind of watched with interest. He went on like this for about ten minutes, until he finished and left.

So this guy says that when he communities with his spiritual guide, his guide sometimes gives him direct suggestions, and ideas. Other times his guide speaks only in pictures that sometimes takes him several days to understand. He says that everybody has a spiritual guide, even if they don’t know it. He said that most people’s spirit guides try and communicate to the person based on the person’s own belief system and upbringing. This where the Catholic Church got the idea of Guardian Angels (which is an official belief in the Catholic Catechism).
He went on to say that the secret in correctly interpreting your spirit’s communication is to be open, and to trust your mind to come up with the right answer.

Which it’s good to always pay attention to your stray thoughts, because you never can be sure where they are coming from.

How to Control Your Happiness

Once there was a tiny field mouse. He was scurrying around, hurrying up to catch up with all the other field mice. He lived kind of far from the main mouse activity center, so he always felt like he was running late. He would always show up on time, and even as he put his socks and shoes on, while his wife was telling he had plenty of time, he still felt like he was late.

One day he had a day off. It was a Tuesday, so he didn’t really get a three day weekend, but it almost seemed like it. Because Sunday night, instead of getting depressed like he usually did when he started to go to bed, he actually felt pretty good. Because even though the next day was Monday, it was really like a Friday. So he was in a pretty good mood. And he played a little extra with his kids, and they all had a fun Sunday night. Because the little mouse kids were in the same boat. For this particular week, Monday was the new Friday.

As he was laying in bed, he started having a conversation with his wife. Because like every other Sunday, he knew that he had to go to bed at the same time, and the kids knew they had to get up at the same time, but they all seemed a lot happier than a normal Sunday.  The little mouse couldn’t really understand it, because even the same programs were on TV that night. Everything was the same, but it felt different.

Of course his wife, being the wise mouse that she was told him that it was because of his state of mind. She was saying that when you have a state of mind based on positive expectations about the future, you can feel better and happier, and enjoy life more. It doesn’t really matter what the future brings, because the future actually never comes. It’s always now. Mr. Mouse seemed a bit puzzled by this, but Mrs. Mouse explained it thusly:

The future is only a guess of what is to come, and the past is only an incorrect memory. Most mice think that the past is solid and it happened just as you remembered it, but if you dig into your memories, you’ll realize that not only are they not entirely accurate, but sometimes they are completely made up. Which is why it’s good to always try something a little bit before withholding judgment.

But Mr. Mouse still wasn’t convinced. He said he was happy, of course, because he knew there was an unusual holiday coming up. That was why everybody was in a good mood, because they all had a holiday coming up on Tuesday, when they didn’t have to go to work or school.

Of course, Mrs. Mouse, not to be outdone, countered by asking Mr. Mouse why he allowed other people to tell him when he was permitted to feel happy or not. Why do you let a bunch of mice you never met before to decide on a holiday for you to be happy inside your own mind? Did they plant a robot chip inside your brain when you weren’t looking, so they could control your thoughts from a secret building outside of the Mice Territory? Of course not. Your thoughts belong to you, and you can think them any way you want. You can even choose not to think them, if you think that will help.

Mr. Mouse seemed a bit confused, but he knew better than to blame his wife. She usually knew what she was talking about.


Cultivating Ideas can Lead to Greatness

Everywhere you look today you can’t help but find bad news. You’d have to dig pretty deep in order to find something uplifting and inspiring. I don’t know if it’s because there really is a lot of bad things happening, or if reporting bad news is the easiest way to grab your attention in an effort to get you to buy whatever it is that the particular advertisers are trying to get you to buy. They try to get your attention by telling you how bad the economy is so you’ll buy what the advertisers are trying to sell. Somebody is making money. When you think about it, the fact that people go to great lengths to fight for your attention is a supreme compliment. Because your attention is very important resource to advertisers and businesses.

According to most evolutionary biologists, the whole idea of consciousness itself is based on a drive to get resources. Because humans are the most flexible of animals, able to live and flourish under almost any situation and environment, we developed our consciousness many hundreds of thousands if not millions of years ago to  help us to search for resources to use. In the beginning, these resources were simple things, like food and water, and fuel for fire. Later they turned into shelter and animal skins for clothing to keep us warm. And later, we developed complex social skills to be able to exist coherently in larger and larger groups. Finally, a few thousand years after discovering agriculture, humankind began to discover our most precious resource.

Your thoughts. Because, as Napoleon Hill so eloquently drove home in his international best seller, “Think and Grow Rich,” thoughts are things. People had to develop long reaching plans to be able to cultivate large crops and ideas that could feed the multitudes. You had to use your brain for things other than chasing and killing animals for food. You had to build cities, castles, cathedrals. Man learned to create art, and music, and poetry. And the more man created beautiful things with your wonderful human brain, the more society flourished. The thoughts that you think on a daily basis create your reality. When you notice and control your thoughts, you will be able to notice and control your reality. That genius potential of the past that allowed men and women to create magnificent works of art and science and literature, resides in your head. Right here, right now.

And I don’t know if evolutionary biologists ever intend to take their theories to the metaphysical like this, but there it is. Either by design or by creation or by random chance, here you are. With your thoughts that you can learn to control, or let someone else control, whereby you actually give up control. The choice was, is, and always be yours on where to put your attention. On this thought I suggest you begin to notice who is trying to sway your mind. Who is trying to lead your thoughts.

Because in these times of economic crisis, no matter your place in life or your financial level of success or failure, you will never ever lose your most precious resource. Your mind, your thoughts, your imagination, your wonderful creativity with which you can create whatever reality you desire. Now.


Powerfully Change Your Present by Easily Changing Your Past

There has been a lot of talk in the media and in popular areas of discussion recently about the importance of happiness. Happiness is that elusive goal that you don’t really know how to define it, but you certainly can appreciate it when you have it. Many people have tried to define happiness in such a way as being measure by external circumstances. Money, Car, Friends, Relationships. Most people don’t realize that the path to happiness is an inside game. Of course, I’m sure you’re also aware that a solid inside game automatically leads to a fantastic outside reality. The mistake most people make, is that when they see an outside reality in somebody else’s life, they try to reproduce the outer effects, without realizing that you need to pay attention to the inside first, and the outside will naturally follow. One way to do this is to change your happiness set point.

One of the best way to increase your happiness set point is to change the thoughts that you habitually think. If this sounds confusing, don’t worry. It is actually fairly easy once you incorporate some easy habits into your daily life. Long term success is all about what you set up to do today, on a regular basis, so that your future will automatically come pre delivered the way you want it.

The first step in changing your habitual thoughts is to become aware of them. Most people amble through life, day after day, thinking the same thoughts over and over without really being aware of it. Because the brain is not only incredibly fast, but also incredibly efficient, there are thousands of thoughts that happen below the threshold of conscious awareness.

For example, when I was a kid, I was out riding my bike. I saw a big scary dog, that growled at me and showed me his big white sharp teeth, dripping with saliva he was no doubt hoping to use to digest my bones after he ate me. The standoff lasted for only a few seconds, but in my childhood mind, it seemed like an eternity. Now when I see a dog, my brain immediately notices that there is a dog in front of me. It then sorts through all my memories of dogs to determine the appropriate emotional response. When it finds that memory I described above, it comes back with the emotion of scary, danger, run away. This all happens so quickly that when I see a dog today, I seemingly immediately only notice a feeling of anxiety. I’m not aware that my brain is doing all that searching and deciding.

It’s only when I unpack that memory, and do some basic memory operation procedures to detach the unpleasantness from that memory of the dog from my current experience, that I can see a dog and feel a sense of happiness and safety, rather than anxiety and fear.

One way to look at your happiness set point is the sum total of your automatic responses to the environment that you encounter on a regular basis. If you are deathly afraid of snakes, and your next door neighbor has a pet boa constrictor that he takes out for a walk the same time as you every morning, you are not going to have a particularly high happiness set point.

What can be helpful, is to go back in time, in your mind, and change whatever memory is there that your brain uses as a reference to tell you to be afraid of snakes.

It sounds really bizarre, but it is pretty simple, and kind of fun when you can learn to do it fairly quickly. Here’s how I did it with my dog memory.

First thing I did was to go back and find the first memory of the dog. Because this can take some time, it may be the most cumbersome step. More practice will yield more memory dexterity, so don’t worry.

Next you tweak the heck out of the memory, so it doesn’t bother you any more. One way to do this, is to relive it, but change certain aspects of it. Like you can view it dissociated. That means that instead of being “in” the memory, I am actually watching myself have a showdown with the dog. And every time I relive that memory, I can change it. Like I can make the dog really small, with clown shoes on. Or I can make the dog dripping grape kool aid instead of child digesting saliva. Or I can have a flea circus performing on the dog’s back, complete with trapeze and the tiny clown fleas getting out of the even tinier clown flea VW bug.

And on top of all the above tricks, you can play the memory backwards, forwards, stuttered, black and white. You can even make the dog a person dressed in a dog costume. And the whole time I am doing this, I can imagine my adult self standing behind my child self, with my steady adult hand on my child shoulder, telling him how funny that dog looks.

I only had to do this a few times, before that memory lost it’s bite. (sorry.) And when you begin to go through your daily life, and systematically dig up and change memories that are giving you trouble, you can really start to raise up your happiness set point. Imagine what life will be like when ordinary objects that you see every day can give you feelings of hope and happiness instead of fear and anxiety.

After all, they are your thoughts. You can think them any way you want to.


Supercharge Your Life with Powerful Flexibility

So I was sitting there, waiting for the train. When I looked up the times on the internet, I mistakenly wrote down the train going the other direction, instead of the one going in the direction I wanted to go to. So I got on the train going the other direction, seeing I didn’t have any big plans, just to head downtown and maybe find a new coffee shop to hang out in. Funny how that works. You plan something, and then based on mistake or a whim, you can easily change your plans, that is if you can be flexible enough with your plans.

Some people make plans, but forget to dig deeper and uncover exactly why you are making your plans. Some people plan to do things because they think it is what other people expect them to do. Others plan based on what they did yesterday. I think It’s important to know the reasons for your plans, so if your plans don’t come through, you can always hold on to your reasons and put them someplace else that can be convenient. 

For example, my plan today was to find a nice quiet place to hang out, do some reading, some journaling, and dig into my thoughts to see if I can find something interesting that I’d forgotten was up there. Or maybe have a look around to maybe do re arranging or some general housekeeping type maintenance, which I’m sure you know is good to do from time to time.

But since I looked up the wrong time on the internet, I decided to catch the train going the other direction. I’d heard that there was a pretty decent shopping area that way, and since I’d never been there, I figured what the heck. I still had my backpack with my notebook, and pencils and pens to write with, so as long as I found a table that didn’t shake too much when I wrote, I’d be ok.

Turns out I was way more than OK.  I found a really cool little cafe that just opened a few months ago. They had some really tasty bagel sandwiches, and a really friendly staff and some pleasant background music against which I could easily write and think and arrange thoughts into more resourceful patterns.

Now had I gone in the right direction, I would have gone to the same coffee shop I’d already been to. I probably would have sat at the same table and eaten the same thing. Instead, I was able to discover something new, which was really there all the time. So when you think about it, I doubled a lot of things today. Before, I could only go one direction, but since I can now choose a direction, I have twice as many places to go. And because the new place I went to today is filled with restaurants, I now have twice as many restaurants to choose from. And because I can catch trains going both directions, I can be more flexible when deciding what time I have to leave.

It’s amazing how much the world opens up when you simply allow yourself to make mistakes, so that the unknown can become familiar and friendly. Because there are a lot of places in the world you can discover, and make friends with as you become used to doing new things for the first time. And one of the coolest things about that is you get to meet lots of new people along the way.


This Mind For Rent

I had an interesting thought this morning while I was out for my daily walk. I make a trip through the neighborhood, and then finish up on a small hill hear a temple where I do my daily Ki Qong. As I was on my way back home, I passed by an apartment complex,  with a big sign out front saying “For Rent.” For some reason, it immediately reminded me of a line from the song Tom Sawyer, by Rush:

“…though his mind is not for rent, to any god or government, always hopeful yet discontent…”

Which naturally caused my mind to drift, as it usually does after a nice walk, to thoughts and where they come from. I’ve read and heard form a variety of sources that fully ninety percent of our thoughs are a rerun of thoughts from before. Yesterday, the day before yesterday, and so on.

I started to think about memes, which are thoughts but follow a certain set of rules, or patterns. They were first described by Richard Dawkins in his book “The Selfish Gene.” Memes can be described as self replicating bits of information passed on from person to person, or even to a whole culture.

Religious doctrines, political propaganda, cake recipes, and even The Macarena are examples of memes. Ideas or concepts passed through different levels of groups and culture. There has been much debate on what makes a good meme.  What makes some memes replicate, what makes others die off quickly. What makes some easy to believe and keep in your brain, and others to seem foolish and ridiculous. How much thought have you given to your thoughts? Are they yours? Do they really serve you? Do they make your life easier? Do they make your life happier? Where did you learn them from? Who taught them to you?

We are all born with a semi blank slate. (There is much debate on the blankness of that slate.) As we grow, we learn much from others.  Thoughts, strategies, languages, gestures, what is important and not important, what is scary and friendly, what we are capable of and not capable of.

There comes a point in our lives, though, when it becomes important to make a decision on what we accept in our brains, and reject.  It becomes evident that you need to stop blindly following others, and choose your own path.  Problems can occur if when we become adults, we still rely on the “I’ll let other people do my thinking for me” strategy that was useful as a child. If we cling to this way of thinking, it can be severely restrictive as we get older. What was a blessing early in life can be a burden later on. Not to say we should immediately reject all other thoughts that aren’t are own, but perhaps we should at least give them a quick once over, and hold them against the scrutiny of our own chosen direction in life. Are they helping us move forward, or are they holding us back?

Imagine for a minute if you could take out each thought and belief, examine it, change it around so it better serves you, and then stick it back into your head. What beliefs would you like to have? Making money is easy? Falling is love is natural and blissful? There are enough resources to go around for everyone? You are capable of achieving anything you set your mind to?

Would you like that? Would it make life more fun and enjoyable? What would be different?

Be sure to check back often, as I will post many more articles related to this subject.  I think this is fascinating. And please share this site with others, because the more you can share, the easier it is to feel better about what is possible.