You Are a Masterpiece
We are living today in one of the greatest times in all of human history. There are more opportunities and possibilities for you to accomplish more in every area in your life than have ever existed before, and if anything, it is only getting better, year by year.
People are living longer too. In the year 1900, the average life span was 52 years. By 1935, it had risen to 62 years. Today, the average man can expect to live to 77 years and the average woman to 80 years. And these numbers are increasing every year.
This means that if you take good care of your physical and mental health, you can quite comfortably beat the averages and live to be 85, 90, 95, or even older. Your job is to learn what you need to learn to live a long, happy life, and then apply what you learn, so that you can fully participate in the greatest time for humans that has ever existed.
One Idea Can Hold You Back
You are like a beautifully engineered Mercedes. But even if your life is moving along in a satisfactory way, you may have, deep within your thinking, a negative memory or block that can be holding you back from accomplishing something extraordinary with your life. When you identify this block and remove it, you will suddenly begin to make more progress in a few weeks or months than you might have made in several years.
Imagine that you bought a brand-new luxury car, beautifully built and engineered with precision in every detail. There was only one problem. Somehow, during the manufacturing process, a part had been installed incorrectly, leading to the brake on one front wheel locking and not turning when you stepped on the gas. Imagine that you got into your brand-new, beautiful, expensive car, turned on the ignition, and stepped on the accelerator. If one front wheel was locked, what would happen? The car would spin around that front wheel. The back wheels would drive it forward but it would just go in circles, without making any progress.
Here is the point. All you need is one unconscious block deep in your mind, a negative emotion or memory from an earlier painful experience, and your life can go around in circles indefinitely. No matter how hard you work on the outside, you will not seem to make the kind of progress—in your finances, your family, your parenting, your career, or your health—that you should be making. The harder you work on the outside, the less progress you will make, and the more dissatisfied you will feel. You will just go around in circles.
The Magic of Changing Your Thinking
Thomas Edison once said, “There are three types of people: There are those who think. There are those who think they think. And then there are those who would rather die than think.”
The great majority of people go through life without giving much thought to who they are and how they got to where they are today. As a result, life just happens to them, like a series of random events, with no explanations and few connections between them.
They take the first job that is offered to them, do what they are told, and then other people who offer them other jobs largely determine their career. They marry the person who happens to be standing there when they decide that they don’t want to be single anymore. They spend their money on whatever appeals to them and invest in whatever somebody suggests to them. For the average person, life is like a bumper car at the carnival, continually being knocked in different directions, with very little control.
But the fact is that your world is largely created by the thoughts you think, and the things that you do as a result of your thinking. When you improve your thinking, you improve your actions and your results. When you change your thinking, you change your life.
Three Mental Laws
The law of emotion says that everything you do is motivated by an emotion of one kind or another, positive or negative. You can hold only one thought in your conscious mind at a time, positive or negative, and you are always free to choose.
The law of habit says that whatever you do repeatedly eventually becomes a new habit. The rule is that good habits are hard to form but easy to live with. Bad habits, especially emotional reactions, are easy to form but hard to live with. The majority of what you do, think, say, or feel is determined by habit, either good or bad.
The law of substitution says that you can substitute a positive thought for a negative thought. You can deliberately decide to think a thought that makes you positive or happy as a substitute for any thought that makes you unhappy.
Two Brain Mechanisms
But here is the kicker: You have both a success mechanism and a failure mechanism in your brain. The success mechanism is activated when you think positive, loving, forgiving thoughts about yourself and other people and focus on your goals. These thoughts require conscious, continuous, deliberate effort on your part. They do not happen by accident, but by design.
Your failure mechanism, unfortunately, works automatically when you stop thinking about what you want and the things that make you happy. Your failure mechanism is a “default setting” that is activated as soon as you stop thinking positive, constructive thoughts.
This means that if you do not deliberately choose to think thoughts that make you happy, your mind defaults to negative thoughts that make you unhappy. Fortunately, by the law of habit, if you discipline yourself to keep your mind on positive thoughts, it eventually becomes a habit. When positive thinking becomes a habit, it becomes your “automatic setting,” and you begin to perform at your best at home and at work.
Four Levels of Personality Development
There are four levels of mental and emotional development that each person needs to go through to be truly happy and free: self-disclosure, self-awareness, self-acceptance, and self-esteem.
This is where you openly and honestly admit the mistakes you have made, the fears you have, the weaknesses you deal with, and the other hidden parts of your life that you are accustomed to keeping to yourself.
When you practice self-disclosure with at least one other person whom you trust, you will find that it is not as bad as you may have thought for a long time. Self-disclosure can be a liberating experience.
After self-disclosure, you can move on to the next level of personality development: self-awareness. When you practice self-disclosure and find surprisingly that the other person does not react in a negative or judgmental way, you become more aware of yourself.
Socrates taught that we learn something only by dialoguing about it with ourselves or others. The more you can talk out what you are thinking and feeling, the better you understand yourself and the situation. The more aware you become.
As you grow in self-awareness, you find that you are not a bad person, that you have many good qualities. You can then move to the next level of personal development: self-acceptance. You start to accept yourself as a good person. Your negative emotions of guilt and inferiority begin to fall away. You feel lighter and happier. Self-acceptance—seeing yourself “warts and all,” as Oliver Cromwell said—is the stepping-stone to a healthy, happy personality.
- SELF-ESTEEM REVISITED
Finally, you move to the highest level of personality development, that of self-esteem. Self-esteem is based on self-acceptance. The more you accept yourself and see yourself as a genuinely good person, the more you like and respect yourself. The more valuable and important you feel you are, the more you like others, and the more they like you.
As you move upward through the stages of self-disclosure, self-awareness, self-acceptance, and self-esteem, your life and your future open up to you like a summer sunrise. All the worries and negative feelings go away.
The Seven Keys to Great Achievement
There are seven key parts of your life in which you must develop absolute clarity in order to unleash all your mental, physical, and emotional powers toward great achievement.
The happiest and most effective people are very clear about their values—what they believe in and what they stand for. Unhappy, average people are unsure of their values, if they have any at all.
Values clarification is one of the most important exercises you can do in your life. Begin by writing out a list of the three to five values or virtues that are most important to you. Then resolve to organize your life around these values, and stick to them without compromise.
Once you are clear about your values, the virtues that you stand for, and the principles that you will not compromise, create your vision of your ideal future life and conditions as organized around your values. Idealize and visualize.
To do this, project forward five years and imagine that your life is perfect in every way. What would you be doing? What would your life look like? What would be your situation in your work, family, and personal lives? And especially, how would your perfect life be different from today?
What is your mission in life? What do you want to accomplish by applying your personality, intelligence, ability, and skills to your world? What kind of a difference do you want to make in the lives of other people, especially your family?
One of the ways to determine your mission is to imagine writing your own obituary, to be read at your funeral and published in the newspaper. What would you want it to say about you, and about what you accomplished in life? What would you want your obituary to say about the effect you had on the lives of other people, and how you will be remembered?
You need absolute clarity about your purpose on this earth. Every person is born with a special reason for being here. What is yours?
Why do you get up in the morning? Why do you do the job you do? Why are you in that relationship, or raising that family? What is your real purpose? Where do you want to end up?
You need clear goals and plans for every area of your life. It is said that success is goals and all else is commentary.
To achieve your full potential, you must have clear, written goals that you are working toward achieving each day. Without goals, you can just go around in circles, working for years and making very little progress.
Thomas Carlyle wrote, “A man without goals is like a ship without a rudder. He makes no progress on even the smoothest seas. But a man with goals is like a sailor with a rudder, a map and a compass who makes progress on even the roughest seas, and sails to his destination.”
You need clear priorities to determine what is important and valuable to you, and what is not.
You cannot manage time itself; you can only manage yourself and how you spend yours. Time management is life management. Time management is the ability to choose the sequence of events. It is the ability to choose what you do first, what you do second, and what you do not at all. And you are always free to choose. This is the key to success in life.
You will always be overwhelmed with too much to do and too little time. No matter how clever you are in organizing your time and your work, you will never get caught up. Throughout your life, you will continually have to set clear priorities on the use of your time, based on the value of that activity compared with anything else you could do at that moment. To accomplish anything of value, you must be able to set priorities and stick to them.
Once you are clear about your values, vision, mission, purpose, goals, and priorities, you must have the willpower and discipline to launch yourself into continual action in the direction of your dreams.