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The Power of Our Thoughts

"It is a pity that people should let themselves be defeated by the problems, cares, and difficulties of human existence, and it is also quite unnecessary. I certainly do not ignore or minimize the hardships and tragedies of the world, but neither do I allow them to dominate. You can permit obstacles to control your mind to the point where they are uppermost and thus become the dominating factors in your thought pattern. By learning how to cast them from the mind, by refusing to become mentally subservient to them, and by channeling your thoughts, you can rise above obstacles which ordinarily might defeat you."

No, I didn't write this quote but I certainly agree with Norman Vincent Peale who wrote it as part of the introduction to his book, The Power of Positive Thinking, first published in 1952. Dr. Peale was ordained in the Methodist Episcopal Church and, although his work has a religious bend to it, it applies to all of our lives.

What's happening in our culture, in our world? There seems to be a desperate cry for a quick-fix – something to hang onto, something to give life meaning, something to provide ultimate happiness. The Power of Positive Thinking, The Secret, The Power of Now, and The Attractor Factor share a common thread. These books are guides to positive self-esteem and success. They were written to give people the tools to bring about change in their lives. So with all this information (and I've only named a few of the recent top-sellers), are people really changing the quality of their lives? Are you happier, more successful, and more satisfied in your life?

In the United States, we've become a quick-fix, throw-away society. When something doesn’t work, we toss it and buy a new one. Dr. Phil can fix anyone’s problems in a one-hour show. We have a pill for sleeping, a pill to get up in the morning, a pill to lose weight, to control blood pressure, to ease our mood swings, and if one experiences a male dysfunction, good grief there are more than enough pills to help with that! As a society, we are bombarded with things to make our life easier; things that eliminate the need for hard work. Are we losing our emotions and thoughts to the simple life? Are we losing touch with what’s important and real?

There is no quick-fix or magic pill to bring about change in your life. I hear about lots of people who are working very hard but feel that nothing is changing. When I ask them what they’re doing, they tell me how hard they’re working and how much time they’re spending, but when asked what they are doing differently, there is silence. The definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results. It’s time to try something new!

Most books about success offer tools for change. Therein lies the difficulty. Many people think reading a book will make them change. For some it may, but the majority of us have to take action for things to change. In my workshop, Increasing Human Effectiveness, I provide tools for change too; those who actually use the tools make changes in their lives and in their attitudes. We have to work the principles and commit to making change happen.

You can read the books, attend the workshop, or try these simple (but not easy) guidelines:

1. Maintain a positive attitude. Look at life as having endless possibilities to fulfill your needs and dreams.

2. When a negative thought enters your mind, push it out. Being positive or negative is a choice. Make a positive choice!

3. Act in accordance with your personal value system. If you’re not sure what you value, you might want spend some time developing your values or attend the IHE workshop.

4. Create a vivid positive mental image of yourself being successful, happy, or whatever it is you'd like to have or to be different in your life. Keep that image alive – create it and hang it on a wall where you'll see it every day.

5. Feel what it would feel like to accomplish the change, your dreams, your goals.  the above. Every time you visualize your positive mental image, feel what it would feel like to have accomplished it and embrace those feelings.

6. When obstacles get in the way, look for ways around them or through them. Remember, it's just an obstacle not a stopping point.

7. Know yourself. What are your strengths? Where do you have opportunities for improvement? Knowing yourself leads to understanding your true abilities and releasing frustrations that block your growth and prevent change.

8. Write affirmative reminders for what you want as if it's already happened. Read them 3-5 times a day, embrace the image, and feeling of accomplishing them.

If you don't know where to start, check out the next Increasing Human Effectiveness workshop or contact us to discuss how coaching could support your change efforts.

Until next month… breathe deeply! In and out! Your body can't support you or your change efforts without breath.

June 2007 ISSUE

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