Back in 1903, James Allen’s book As A Man Thinketh was released. The title is an abbreviation of a bible verse from the book of proverbs. In its entirety, it reads, “as a man thinketh in his heart, so he is.”
To our modern world, this is a curious promise. 21st century life is about the material. We value what we can see, touch and, most of all, possess. This is real. The laws of nature, which we believe we’ve discovered, govern how our universe works. As a result, we live with the belief we have almost everything figured out.
Compared to these discoveries, what is a thought? The materialist would probably dismiss it as irrelevant mental chatter or understand it as a reaction to the events of the day. However, what if the relationship was reversed? Is it possible that the thoughts in your mind determine the circumstances and events of your life?
It’s a dangerous idea. After all, if you follow this line of thinking then you become responsible for everything that occurs. If you spend too much money and slip into debt then you only have yourself to blame. Likewise, if, after years of stress, poor diet and lack of exercise, you experience a heart attack or develop a terminal disease, then you must accept responsibility.
Although both of these examples appear to have a physical cause – too much spending and poor lifestyle choices – there is a deeper trigger point. The debt might occur after persistent thoughts of impressing people with your gadgets, cars or clothes. Likewise, the illness might occur as a result of focusing on money to the exclusion of your health.
How do you feel about this diagnosis? Are you angry or upset? Do you dislike the idea of being responsible for your misfortunes?
While total responsibility can be a bitter pill to swallow, there is a silver lining to this way of thinking. Surely, if you create your reality through thought then, within your ability, is not just the potential to harm your life, but the possibility of setting yourself free. Persistent thoughts of success will lead to their material and spiritual realisation. Likewise, persistent thoughts of health and harmony will lead to an optimally functioning body.
Society never promotes this idea. We’re taught that the individual is powerless. Not only are we subject to the laws of nature, but we are also governed by the rules of society. As a result, life is very much out of our control. Illness, breakdown of relationships, accidents and our successes and failures have little to do with what we did. Instead, we are granted the comfort of excuses. It was our genes, our personality, our mental disorder or bad luck.
Which option do you prefer? Are you willing to shoulder responsibility in return for the opportunity to create the life you want? Or, would you rather allow external factors to govern the direction of your life while you remain blameless?
After reading this chapter, my hope is that you will choose the former. In doing so, there is an important point to remember.
The Bible states that, “as a man thinketh in his heart, so he is.” On first reading, this may appear to be an oxymoron. After all, we don’t think with our hearts. However, on deeper inspection, the Bible hasn’t made a mistake.
Thinking with your head is something that, according to a 2005 National Science Foundation study, occurs 12,000 to 60,000 times a day. Most of these thoughts are repetitive (95%) and have little to no (direct) impact on your life. We can all attest to the fact that merely thinking once about a million dollars or a brand-new Ferrari doesn’t result in their manifestation. However, thinking with your heart is something entirely different and is far rarer.
Thinking with your heart occurs when your thought generates an emotional reaction. This might happen when you’re thinking about an upcoming presentation and a wave of anxiety hits you. Alternatively, you might be thinking about achieving your goal and it generates a feeling of joy. This is thinking with your heart and it shapes your reality.
Understanding the distinction between these two types of thinking reveals what it means to be a positive thinker. The common misconception is that positive thinking involves imagining yourself doing well. For example, throughout your day, you might deliberately visualise yourself meeting your future husband or wife or reaching your sales target.
The reverse applies with negative thinking. Throughout your day, you might repeatedly, although this time unintentionally, see yourself failing. However, what happens if these thoughts, whether positive or negative, fail to trigger an emotional response?
Not a lot. The thought, lacking emotion, won’t penetrate your subconscious and form a belief. Instead, it will be dismissed.
Therefore, to be a true positive thinker, you must be a positive feeler. You must be skilled with your thoughts and aware of your emotions. Don’t get frustrated running hundreds of so-called positive thoughts through your mind wondering why nothing is changing. You’d do far better to relax, choose one specific goal, or outcome that you know would make you happy, and, from time to time, focus on this.
After a while, you’ll build up a connection with this goal or outcome and will train your subconscious to respond with a positive feeling. (In NLP this technique is called anchoring, although is typically performed by touching some part of your body or through a routine). When this occurs, changes happen. You’re able to raise your energy and this will have a dramatic impact on your work, creativity, relationships, sports and anything else that is important to you.
Remember, though, this discipline takes time. Your first step is to adopt traditional positive thinking. Imagine yourself doing well even if, at first, you feel no emotional reaction. Work on releasing the negatives as well. If you catch yourself dwelling on an unpleasant memory, or fear of an event in the future, remind yourself to let go.
With time, you’ll figure out your triggers and be able to generate a positive emotional response. When this happens, you’ll discover that your mind operates in a similar manner to a computer. It has to obey your instructions. Positive thoughts, backed by emotions, will bring you answers and encounters that will advance you in the direction of your dreams.
Perhaps your dreams are on an epic scale. Like Elon Musk, you have visions so great you imagine colonising Mars. Or, like Michael Jackson, you believe you can fly (He was once quoted saying, “We can fly, you know. We just don’t know how to think the right thoughts and levitate ourselves off the ground.”)
Crazy, right? These kinds of people are unhinged and don’t live in ‘the real world.’ However, look at what they accomplish.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX created the first privately developed rocket to carry a commercial satellite into orbit. Michael Jackson, despite being told by everyone around him that it was impossible, created the greatest selling album of all time. So, are they crazy for having outrageous dreams or is this kind of thinking a prerequisite for achieving goals that seem out of the ordinary?
We’re always being told about our limits. According to society, so much is impossible. For example, for a long time, it was deemed physically impossible for a human to run a mile in under 4 minutes. However, since Roger Bannister broke that limit in 1955, over 500 people, in America alone, have matched this feat.
In Arnold’s Schwarzenegger’s autobiography, Total Recall, he mentions that,
In weight lifting, for many years there was a 500-pound barrier in the clean and jerk . . .But as soon as the great Russian weightlifter Vasily Alekseyev set a new world record of 501 in 1970, three other guys lifted more than 500 pounds within a year.
Another limit gets broken. How much proof does humanity need before it opens its collective mind to the idea that there are no limits (or, that’s it’s not useful to think of them)?
Perhaps you are apprehensive of removing the limits on your thinking for fear of what other people might say. To prevent this shutdown, we’re going to make a deeper analysis of Michael Jackson’s comment about people flying.
Of course, to date, no one has been recorded achieving this feat. And, perhaps, no one ever will. However, cast your thoughts back to the mind-set of a human living 600 years ago, ponder the possibility of machine powered flight from this perspective, and you’ll see that you’re presented with a similar situation.
Back then, if someone had said that humanity will crisscross the skies in giant flying machines within 600 years, it would have been considered utterly impossible. However, fast forward to today, and this is our reality.
Do you get the point? For the so-called impossible to occur, it takes people with a mind-set like Michael Jackson and Elon Musk. Such a person, living 600 years ago, would have been interested, rather than dismissive, about the possibility of machine powered flight. As a result of this curiosity, research would have been undertaken, prototypes built and, as the centuries passed, and other illuminated minds continued their work, actual flight would finally occur.
A similar situation might occur with thought-powered flight. Or, it might not. Whatever the case, it serves no purpose to dismiss ideas on the grounds that they challenge the paradigms of our day. For, as we have seen with the examples of Jackson and Musk, thinking outside society’s limitations is beneficial for both the individual and for humanity.
To achieve your dream, you will also have to let your imagination soar. Allow yourself to contemplate the so called impossible, go to possibilities in your mind that have never been conceived before and, by doing so, unlock your full potential.
Never say that it can’t be done. What’s the point? If it can’t, then you’re no worse off than before and, if it can, you could be the one breaking new ground while everyone stares in amazement.
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