Take a look at the picture on your left. Two characters are looking at planks of wood, one sees four, the other three.
Who sees the situation correctly?
Believe it or not, they both do because the position you are in when looking at any object or subject will determine the view you take of it.
You would agree with that statement, right?
Of course you would, but do you apply it to every area of your life? For example, do you have the ability to be that objective when measuring your own levels of success or happiness?
From over 10 years of working as a hypnotherapist, I would say that most of us don’t. Then it’s a case of absolutes.
These are just some of the statements I’ll hear upon first meeting clients. While they could easily look at a dispute between other people and make points for why both parties had an equally compelling case, they can’t look at themselves and apply the same logic.
Then it gets emotional. The pain of past failure hits and blinds them from an alternative perspective. They forget all of the things they do well and start to mistake their negative perspective for ‘The Truth’.
As you can imagine, this has disastrous consequences for their quality of life. With this interpretation, they’re battling something unalterable. There’s no way around the fact they’ll forever lack the confidence necessary to find a partner, the talent to excel in their work or the willpower to lose weight.
But I’m not writing this blog post to discuss my clients. I’m writing it for you.
You see the strange thing I want you to know about your happiness and success is that you determine how happy or successful you are! Not just in the sense that you have to work at it, but also in the sense that most of it is down to the view you have of yourself and life.
To expand my point, I’m going to tell you a story about my book writing experience. I’m going to give you a very candid glimpse into my world and then I’m going to invite you to judge me.
Am I happy and successful or a delusional failure? You decide (and you can even tell me in the comments section below).
My dream is to sell a million copies of my book. I’ve held this dream for about 10 years now and to date, I’ve only sold 337 copies. I started writing it in July 2007 and self-published the book on Amazon Kindle back in February 2012 (with no form of book launch whatsoever). After discovering the world of blogs, social media and internet marketing (a world that was totally alien to me at first), I’ve slightly revised my dream. Now I don’t have to sell a million copies with just one book, if I can get to that magic number with any subsequent books I write (all sales added together) then it will be mission accomplished.
So what do you think?
Clearly, I’ve failed, right? My goal is 1,000,000 and I’m at a measly 337.
From one perspective, I can see how someone could come to that conclusion. The numbers are astronomically out and I’ve put an inordinate amount of time (probably 6000 hours) for what would appear to be very little return. However, I can tell you now, hand on heart, that I feel anything but a failure.
Instead, I’m happy and I see myself as a success. This feeling of success is not just down to the facts that I’ve sold more copies than the average self-published author (250, if you were wondering), have some fantastic reviews on Amazon Kindle and have had people personally contact me sharing what a positive and life changing impact the book has had on them. While these factors are incredibly rewarding (sometimes bringing tears to my eyes) they could easily be washed away by the knowledge of what I haven’t achieved.
So you see the real reason why I’m happy and see myself as a success is because, for well over 10 years now, I’ve trained myself to focus on the positives. Since July 2003, I’ve noted down, in a series of journals, every single significant positive result I’ve achieved.
The impact this practise has had on my self-esteem, confidence and ability to weather a storm is colossal. I’ve gone from being lonely, bored and with nothing to live for, to waking up each day feeling energised and engaged by every hour of my life. So when I first published my book, and it took 6 weeks to sell its first copy to a non-family member, I didn’t panic or fall apart. Instead, I waited for the positives, and then started to build on them.
While you might agree that my happiness and feelings of success are genuine, it would still be possible to argue that, ultimately, I’m deluding myself. I’m light years away from achieving my dream and if I persist, then what about all the other areas of life I might miss out on? However, I would still stand tall in the face of this criticism because I know just how far I’ve come as a result of adopting this attitude.
Six months after having first published my book, and with barely double digit sales, I could have easily quit. The grind was just too hard. Not only had I toiled for years creating a bestseller worthy personal development book, I was now having to learn the very foreign field of promoting myself online.
And for what? £20 in my bank account and the tiny ego boost of saying that I was now officially an author. This wasn’t what I got into writing for, and it appeared that I’d given it an honest shot, so why not call it a day?
While most reasonable people would agree with this line of thinking, thank God I didn’t! I was still doggedly focused on the positives and after a while, I began to notice that they really were there.
Now, just over 3 years down the line, I feel like a different person. I’ve had enough sales to know that my book is marketable, I’ve had enough positive feedback to know that my writing has the ability to positively impact peoples’ lives and I’ve learned enough about promoting myself online, publishing and self-publishing to devise a proper strategy that will enable me to realise my dream.
None of this would have happened if I’d looked at those book sales and seen 999,663 failures instead of 337 successes.
But enough about me. The real question is how is this going to help YOU?
If you walk away from this article knowing that you no longer have to be held back by what you perceive to be a negative ‘truth’ about yourself, then my job is done. Furthermore, if you walk away from this article realising that there are very few limiting ‘truths’ in life then you are giving yourself the opportunity to live a much freer existence.
Is it ‘The Truth’ that I’m a failure in my quest to sell 1 million copies of my book? I don’t see it that way, and because I don’t, I’ve given myself the opportunity to learn, improve and put myself in a position where I really believe it will happen.
I’m just wondering how many areas of your life you’ve looked at negatively and duped yourself into giving far less than you’re really capable of. And I’m also wondering just how much more you will achieve when you learn that you can choose to look at yourself as a success.
So with that message, I will leave you to start noticing all the things you do well, the positive impact you have on other people and all the obstacles you’ve overcome. Note them down if it helps. You’ll be amazed at what you begin to see when you focus on all the reasons why you are happy and successful.
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