What you’re thinking about, you’re becoming.-Mohammed Ali
Your perception is your reality. We move through the world with a story about ourselves in our heads that we call our identity. We tell ourselves that we’re ‘rich’ or that we’re ‘poor’, and the words we choose to use to describe our reality become real in some way or another, regardless of our account balances. We add to this identity and subtract from it over time, usually in response to some crisis beyond our control life has thrown at us, and call that growth. People ‘find’ and ‘lose’ God, for example. It happens all the time.
We hold stories about others as well, both collectively and as individuals. The way we see the world and our place within it is our reality, regardless of how much of the world we have actually seen, experienced or studied.
Actual reality may or may not be objective and absolute, but our perception of it can change – wilfully or not – and therefore so can our reality, which matters greatly to our sense of contentment, satisfaction and happiness.
This is a powerful tool, and should be wielded accordingly. This simple little truth can be demonstrated and understood in various ways, and has the power to transform you. That includes your finances, your lifestyle and the impact you have.
In order to have a fit body, it must be trained and well-nourished. The same is true of the mind. Bad thoughts are the junk food of the mind. We must consciously lay down the pathways of thought that we want in our lives so that in the future our thoughts will flow down these pathways more automatically and effortlessly, with less resistance, and to a greater end. This can help us to avoid the pitfalls of self-delusion by bending our mind to our own will rather than allowing it to develop according to its own self-serving devices, often with disastrous consequences for ourselves and others.
Overconfidence is unbecoming, but to think too little of yourself is defeatist. While those who are humble can not be humbled, to lack the self-confidence to take action in critical times is detrimental. We must work to consciously cultivate the ability to honestly and objectively identify our strengths and weaknesses equally, and to then act accordingly – improving upon our weaknesses and leveraging our strengths.
“Action leads to change, and nothing ever improved without changing.”Tweet
But we must do more than just think of our stories. We must take action. We have to write our stories ourselves. Action leads to change, and nothing ever improved without changing. When we take action and we receive a reward, we initiate what Charles Duhigg calls the Habit Loop in The Power of Habit (USA/CAN). After sufficient repetition, many failed attempts, and after a surprisingly short amount of time doing this mindfully and consciously, we can then use these developed cues to help prompt further action, in turn further developing the knowledge and confidence required to continue to move forward in this iterative way. Just like well-established thought patterns, over time it becomes much more automatic; much more habitual and much more beneficial to ourselves and others around us. This is precisely how people come to ‘love’ exercising or write dozens of novels or any other forms of deliberate, consistent practice over time. And remember, to practice means to make a practice of something. Daily.
This same type of process plays out within our minds. It relies on stories to fill the gaps in the universe between the bits of sensory information we receive. If left to its own devices, the mind can fill these gaps in a plethora of ways, most of which will serve our ‘monkey mind‘ and not us..
With meditation, and a practice of gratitude and mindfulness we can calm the sea of worries within and encourage different thoughts and, ultimately, different outlooks, different perceptions, and different realities.