Chapter 1: You are What You Think
“You are today where the thoughts of yesterday have brought you and you will be tomorrow where the thoughts of today take you.” — Blaise Pascal
We can’t change other people and our particular life situation. At least we can do things within our control. We can use mind power—we can change the way we think, which in turn changes the way we feel about a situation.
Your brain is like a pharmacy, and it never closes, dispensing chemicals at all hours. Every thought you have produces a biochemical reaction. Your thinking generates emotions that generate chemicals—but some chemicals are there to help you and some will harm you.
You can think only one thought at a time. Multi-tasking is a myth!
Your thinking got you into this mess. It’s your thinking that’ll get you out of it.
What you can do something about is how you treat the thought when you’ve had it.
We are all the product of what we think.
We tend to suffer from the mistaken belief that thoughts are actually real—they are not reality, merely thoughts.
Chapter 2: The Power of Distorted Thinking
Your thinking can be qualified as distorted when you
- Criticise yourself for past ‘failures’ (although being critical of your mistakes is more productive)
- Doubt your abilities
- Fear future events
- Put yourself down
- Have an expectation of failure
Don’t believe everything you think!
Remember that not everything that happens is a result of our ‘imperfections’—it’s not always about us.
When we say to ourselves that taking path B—instead of path A which we chose—would have been better because it would have led to ‘this’ instead of ‘that’, this ‘fortune telling’ creates a reality that is entirely of our own fabrication.
The key to changing your thinking is to identify which of the ways of habitual thinking (one or more) is holding you back from achieving more fulfilment.
Chapter 3: Mind Control
If we can respond to complications and problems in a non-negative way, it will change our feelings about ourselves, other people, and the world.
Perhaps the most difficult one of all thinking habits is the natural human propensity to think in a negative way. Having the awareness of when it’s happening to you and being able to ‘flick the switch’ and challenge unhelpful thinking when it occurs, is the key to a more productive life. Your thoughts and, therefore, your attitude and, of course, most importantly, the way you feel—all will be transformed.
Adopting a thinking style that is more positive and more realistic leads to a change in the way you feel.
Whether you’re an optimist or a pessimist may not affect the outcome. It’s just that the optimist has a better time in life.
If we behave in an irrational manner it is because of our internal dialogue. ‘Thinking errors’ and consequently unhelpful processing are the cause of most of our disturbances in life, so the solution lies in challenging and re-evaluating these unhelpful cognitions, biases, thoughts.
There is no such thing as reality, only perception.
Only by adopting more flexible beliefs can healthy emotions and corresponding behaviours occur.
Present Thinking: Life is a series of present moments.
By thinking in a more rational (less critical/less negative) manner we change how we feel.
The premise that power lies with you—the originator of the thoughts—rather than with the actual thoughts themselves, is the key to you changing your life. Otherwise it means you are seduced by your own thoughts.
It’s unrealistic to think we can eliminate all negative emotions we experience. But we can change our thinking and, by doing so, respond to discomfort in a more realistic manner.
Chapter 4: The Stressed Mindset
It’s the interpretation of what happens to you that is important rather than what happens to you.
There are four techniques for dealing with stressful situations. They are known as the 4 As:
- Avoid (the power of ‘no’)
They each require a change in either your reaction or the situation.
Ask yourself: “Is this really important to life? Will it mean anything in, say, six months’ or a year’s time?”
Remember that resistance paralyses the mind; acceptance frees the mind to think more clearly and work on solutions that work for you.
Exercise has dramatic effects of increased oxygen in the brain, promoting the health of the capillaries (the small blood vessels). A hormone (peptide) that is produced as we increase our heart rate from exercise, reduces the stress response in our body, since it halts the HPA axis responsible for the fight/flight reaction. It also puts a brake on the stream of adrenaline.
Chapter 5: Anxiety
80 to 90% of what people worry about never actually materializes. So we spend a lot of time feeling anxious when there is no need—and even if things do happen, the worry will have contributed nothing. Except perhaps an agitated state, bodily imbalance, and even ill-health.
As Alfred Hitchcock said: “There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.”
Sometimes looking at the funny side of life gives us a better perspective on things. A good sense of humour is a perfect antidote to stress and anxiety.
Chapter 6: Anger
It is not events that disturb you but the view that you take of them. Similarly with anger—no one can make you angry. You can’t pin the responsibility for your emotions on another person or a situation.
Anger comes from our own thoughts about situation.
At the first sign of angry thoughts in your mind, cease thinking (your automatic thoughts are not likely to be rational and helpful so put a stop to them quickly), then cool (bring your mental temperature down and think ‘cool’) and then count from 1 to 10.
Life’s too serious to be taken seriously.
Your subjective view of ‘reality’ is different to everyone else’s. Before you give in to an angry impulse, try and see the situation from another person’s point of view.
When you react to feelings of anger you’re out of control (reflex). When you respond to feelings of anger you’re in control (thought).
Chapter 7: Memory and The Brain
The reason for most memory deficiency is at the encoding stage. We don’t pay attention to things. If we don’t focus on what we’re listening to or what we’re seeing, then the experience passes us by. Quite often it may be because we are trying to process more than one thing at a time.
Chapter 8: The ‘Winner’ takes All
“A champion is afraid of losing. Everyone else is afraid of winning.” — Billie Jean King
If you don’t think, deep down, that you’re worthy of success—you’ll make sure that you lose.
The biggest waste is what we don’t do in life. Until we change our thinking, we are stuck in the same rut and never leave the starting block.
The reason why visualization is so powerful and effective? It creates new neural pathways of experience— even though we haven’t actually lived the reality. Neuroscience has shown us that our thoughts alter the brain’s wiring and its neurochemistry.
Chapter 9: It’s a Wonderful Life
It’s now that is important for us because our beliefs and our thoughts and consequently what we say and do is going to create our future life. Yet the power for this future lies in the ‘now’—this present moment. It’s your own mind power that will decide what kind of life you experience from now.
Is happiness really a permanent state?
Most people postpone happiness on the grounds that it will come later, sometimes in the future. Yet all we ever have is the present.
The elusive state of ‘happiness’ is entirely a subjective thing.
What most people are really seeking is probably more accurately described as contentment.
Happiness is never going to be a place at which you finally arrive.
Happy people are able to spot negativity attacking their psyche more readily, than those who are in an unhappy frame of mind. Further, they live in accordance with their values, and the by-product of that is happiness.
If you can observe your mind, you can also control it.