A New Way Of Thinking
By Greg Jacobson
Have you ever been stuck in thinking that didn’t work for you, and you knew it, but stayed with it anyway? Why do we do that? Most people let their thinking control them. They live their lives living in the past or worried about the future, letting random thoughts flow in and out of their minds engaging them with commentary and feeling. I listen to people talk about how they were wronged, and their life was totally ruined by someone else and it wasn’t their fault in any way. Is that true? They believe it is, but what if they believed differently? Would that change their lives and the people’s lives around them? Could you change your life by changing what you believe and how you think?
Could you be happier than you are right now? What if you felt better about the situation you are already in? Here’s the truth, you can feel any way you choose at any time you want. For some of you, this is going to be a big shock. Some people are in such emotional pain, that they can only focus on what isn’t working for them. They feel that life hasn’t turned out how they would have liked it, so they feel terrible about their situation. It’s easy to make ourselves feel bad. We were taught that we are rewarded for accomplishments, and as we meet milestones we assume happiness will be waiting for now that we deserve it. That’s not how it works.
Happiness is something that you need to bring with you on this success ride. You already deserve to be happy. Being happy helps pave the way to great accomplishments. Science has proven that people who are happy earn more money, learn faster and easier, live longer, are more productive, are better and faster problem solvers, have improved health, contribute more, are more creative, have stronger, longer-lasting relationships, have a more positive attitude, make fewer mistakes, are married longer and have lower divorce rates, are more enjoyable to be around, are better team players, and report greater life satisfaction.
If you could improve your life immediately just by changing your thinking (and you can) why wouldn’t you? If you follow these five easy steps, you can improve your life starting today. I’m considered one of the world’s leading strategists for developing a success mindset and #1 international bestselling author of ‘Think Yourself Happy’. I have taught hundreds of organizations and high-performing individuals to achieve more, meet objectives faster, and become better team players.
These ideas, strategies, and tools come from more than 30 years of reading hundreds of books, listening to thousands of hours of cassettes, CDs, and mp3s, and watching and attending hundreds of seminars. I’ve been researching and studying the masters of every area that’s important to me, applying these methods, strategies and paradigms in my own life with success, and then teaching others. I speak internationally full time and train, consult, mentor, and help to design company cultures where people thrive and love to work. More than that, I’ve become a specialist in helping people to happily achieve.
A 2015 Gallop Poll reveals only 32% of U.S. workers are engaged in their jobs. Organizations with a high level of engagement report 22% higher productivity, according to a new meta-analysis of 1.4 million employees conducted by the Gallup Organization. Harvard Business Review shows engaged employees also have lower absenteeism and turnover rates by up to 65%, report 48% fewer safety incidents, and 41% fewer quality incidents (defects). It also costs the U.S. an estimated $450 billion to $550 billion per annum of lost productivity, stolen goods, and missed days of work.
Most people simply do not like their jobs, so how can we be more happy doing things we don’t like doing? As I said, we are in control of our thoughts, or at least we can be. Like breathing, thoughts can either be controlled or automatic. Whatever dominates your thoughts, that is how you live your life. In other words, you get whatever you focus on with intensity for prolonged periods of time. This works all the time, every time, good and bad, for everyone. You say that life is dangerous? You’ll see danger everywhere. You say that life is heartbreak? Even in your best relationships, you’ll be looking ahead to the moment that it will all come to a tragic, bitter end rather than expecting and enjoying the best that already is. Have you ever known people who are “victims”? They expect bad things to happen, and they do. Bad luck seems to follow them around. If you listen to these people, they ask themselves questions like, “Why do bad things always happen to me? What terrible thing is going to happen next? Why can’t I catch a break?” You get what you focus on, and you also get the answers to the questions that you ask. What do you think would happen if “victims” asked themselves questions that they might actually want the answers to—like, “How can I make this happen? What if things worked out perfectly, what would that look and feel like?” If you are consumed by the thought of terrible things happening, they will continue to happen. If you want to change what happens to you, it starts by changing how you think And if you want to be happy, you have to learn how to think differently. You need to think like happy people think.
The problem though, is with our ultra-powerful survival instinct that makes negative thoughts and emotions more “important” than the positive ones. We are always unconsciously looking for danger and how to avoid it. That’s why negative emotions dominate our psyche and are much stronger and easily accessible than positive emotions—it’s the “save the organism” auto-response that we all have. So knowing this, how can we think ourselves happy? How do we train our minds and bodies to be content, and to make happiness our default setting? This is not just about finding happy moments or creating happy moment sand locking them in. It’s how to make “happy and fulfilled” your automatic default setting, instead of “worry and scarcity.” We can think ourselves happy by actively taking control of our thoughts and emotions. Thoughts control our feelings, which control our actions. Without control of our thoughts, we are stimulated by outside circumstances, and we react rather than respond. When we choose to direct our thoughts, we can calm the chemical storms racing through our bodies. We can move ourselves from fear to awareness, anger to focus, disappointment to reflection, and satisfaction to active happiness and joy—simply by changing our thoughts, or choosing what to think in any situation. “Easier said than done,” I can hear you saying. True, but there is a way to condition ourselves to think in such a way that we are happier more often. Like any other learned behavior, thinking yourself happy takes training, practice and some discipline. But believe me, the rewards are worth it.
To make it easy to be happy, you have to be clear about what that would take. Most people I ask are unclear about what they want and what it would look and feel like to be happy. They can tell me with great passion and clarity about what they definitely don’t want, because they have memorized the list and say it to themselves all day long. And since you get what you focus on, that’s exactly what shows up in their lives. Once you start to visualize what you want rather than what you don’t want, those things will start showing up in your life.
You need to realize that there are only four things in life you can control, what you think, what you do, what you say, and how you feel. Everything outside of that is only influence. The closer you are to the person or situation, the stronger the opportunity to influence. Proximity is no guarantee, however you are in a better position to influence your spouse or kids than you are of influencing who will be our next president or the weather outside. Yet what are people spending their time and energy discussing and complaining about? Invest in the things you can control and influence. Since your limits of control are ALL within yourself, take some steps to master them.
There are five changes in thinking that will immediately improve your life. Using any of these paradigm shifts will undoubtedly have a dramatic effect on the overall quality of your life. The more often you use them, the greater the results. The more of them you use, the results will multiply. The first of these as I have already mentioned is visualization. See things in your mind’s eye as you would like them to be. Visualize these things that you want as though they are assured, and it’s only a short matter of time before you have them. Believe that the Universe works for you and that what you want is on the way. Now feel it as though it has already arrived and you are living that life right now. Enjoy seeing yourself the way that would make you the happiest, surrounded by the people you love who love you, enjoying the life you imagined. This visualization process takes place in an area of the brain called the prefrontal cortex that only humans have. No other animal on the planet has this capability. Our subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between an imagined event, and one that actually happened. This can work for us or against us depending on our level of control. If you see an event happening over and over in your mind, your body actually gets better at doing it even though it isn’t actually doing the physical activity. Professional athletes utilize this technique regularly. The world’s top racecar drivers prepare for each race by studying the track in micro details. They see themselves preparing in pit row, then getting into the car, strapping on their helmet putting on their gloves, and listen for those 4 sacred words, ‘Drivers, start your engines’. They know the routine; they’ve done it a thousand times before. Every turn, every straight away, every opponent, and every opportunity, they drive it like its real, in their mind, over and over. They see themselves winning and pumping their fist in the air as they cross the line first as the checkered flag waves, victorious once again. These drivers see themselves winning over and over, weeks before the race even begins.
The second change in thinking is positive anticipation. This is also known as delayed gratification, but who wants to wait right? You don’t have to! Positive anticipation is being excited about what’s coming, it’s the opposite of worry. Since we never know what’s really coming, choose to believe that it is exactly what you want and need. Studies show that people enjoy the positive anticipation of a vacation much more than the vacation itself. Remember, the Universe is working in your favor and you get what you focus on. So now that you are visualizing what you want and know what that looks like and how it will feel when it comes, you are controlling your thoughts about the future to feel good about what you are visualizing bringing forward. On the other hand, if you are not focused on good things coming, you can find yourself anticipating bad things happening. Things that will never happen and you get to see them and feel them as though they are really happening to you right now, all of them. How does that make you feel? How you feel and what you think about is a choice you make, and you make it all day, every day. Choose to see good things, opportunities, and relationships that are on their way to you right now. If you see it happening, most likely it will, whatever that is, good or bad.
Third change is meaning and the emotion you put into your story. The most powerful feelings you have come from your story. It is the identity that you walk around with and present to the world and to yourself the mirror. It is your excuse or your motivation. Look, I’m not trying to say that if you had terrible events that happened in your life, they aren’t meaningful. Some of you had such horrific things happen, no one should have to go through what you did, but right here and now, I’m giving you permission to stop living it. If you are no longer being victimized, suffer no more! You can take whatever learnings that you needed to take from that, and leave the pain behind, in the past where it belongs. Find strength and meaning from it, grow and teach others how to let go. You don’t have to live that way anymore, it’s done, over, not going to happen ever again. I want you to visualize putting all your sadness, into a giant red helium balloon, let go and watch it float away until it disappears forever. Change the meaning of that event to suit you. For one thing, you wouldn’t be the you that you are today without the things that happened in your past. Also, you get to decide what that event means now that you have had all this time to think about it. Choose a meaning that works to empower you.
One of the strongest changes in thinking for me is perspective. Some people are naturally happy-go- lucky, I am not. When I feel frustrated and challenged, I look at perspective. Frustration and disappointment come from my feeling that what I planned for, worked for, and deserve, did not happen… so now what? I could get mad, or I can realize that I am not in control of what happens, only what I put in. I ask myself, Could things be worse than they are now? Is this the worst situation I could imagine? Does anyone else have it worse than me?” Easy answer; whatever problems I felt become only minor inconveniences when I put things into a different perspective. If you knew what other people around you are dealing with, you might be a little more gentle and a lot more grateful.
Gratitude is an easy way to center yourself in the moment. It brings you to now, leaving behind the future and the past. Today, right here and now is the best place to live, and the only place you’ll find gratitude. Think of the things that you are grateful for. Make mental notes of what you come up with, your family, your friends, your pillow, your cat, your dog, the ocean, the trees, a hot shower, a fresh towel, your toothbrush, running water, shoes, etc. Being grateful feels good and is appropriate anytime, anywhere. It’s free and easy to remember to be grateful, here’s how. Start first thing when you wake up. Be grateful you woke up and think of the people,situations, and things that you are grateful for. Next, pick a time that you are going to see on the clock, twice a day. Some of you are going to be awake at 8am and 8pm, others of you are more the 3:21pm and 3:21am type. Whatever time works for you, make that a gratitude celebration minute, thank your lucky stars and celebrate twice a day. If you look at the clock and you missed it, no problem, do it now. When your head hits the pillow and you close your eyes, that’s another perfect time to be grateful. One more method I use to remember how awesome life is, is to keep a small rock in my pocket that I picked up off of the beach in Santa Barbara where I live. Every time I put my hand in my pocket and feel that stone, I remember where I was and how I felt when I got it, and life is awesome again. Find something that works for you and use that to remind yourself just how lucky you really are.
With mastery of these five changes in thinking, you will be able to ‘Think Yourself Happy’ whenever you choose. Of course this is only the beginning of happily achieving. The achievement is in the follow-through. Right-thinking is only preparation for the doing that must follow. This process is known as the Universal Success Formula (Right Thinking + Follow-Through = Success). The follow-through consists of these 5 steps; Prepare, Plan, Execute, Measure, and Improve. You can get this video download and additional bonus information free at www.happilyachieving.com where you can also read my blogs and see recommendations for what I feel are some of the best books ever written.
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World’s leading strategist for developing a success mindset and #1 international bestselling author of ‘Think Yourself Happy’.