This is a term that I have just come across again. In essence it says that if you re-enforce any action (or thought) it will become ingrained. It makes me think of the idea that Earl Nightingale developed all those years ago. “We become what we think about”.
Other similar sorts of homilies are: what you focus on grows in importance and fact, you reap what you sow and so on. In other words, what you are focusing on is very important. It sets you up for more of whatever you are focusing on.
Note: it does not work in the negative. The human brain does not process negatives. A negative is a concept that our brain just does not deal with. If you tell yourself not to think of a pink elephant, guess what the first thing to come into the mind is. Yep, there is that pink elephant. In other words, if you try to focus on not having or doing something, you will actually be reinforcing the exact opposite. You will get more of what you do not want.
As we know, life is all about choices. Choose carefully what you choose to focus on. It is perfectly fine to think about a problem but we must be careful not to focus on the problem and how terrible the effects are on us. Rather, identify the problem, think briefly about the terrible consequences, and then move ahead to what outcome you really want. If you have financial troubles, shift the focus onto having sufficient funds. If you have poor health, shift the focus to better health and feeling happy anyway. If you are sad about a happening in your life, shift the focus to how you can find things to be grateful for and be happy again.
There is a sort of gyro-scope in your brain that will work hard to notice opportunities to fulfill your goals and re-enforce whatever it is that you are focused on. Focus on what you want more of. Your brain will point out opportunities that you might have otherwise missed. When you see those opportunities, act on them right away. Remember the law of re-enforcement. If you do not act, you are re-enforcing the behaviour of seeing opportunities and taking no action. Eventually, you will not even see any opportunities and you will convince yourself that you really cannot change anything in your life. Take action!
This is one of my tools to deal with outside events that happen to me that I might not really appreciate or want at all. If you think about it at all, you will realise that there is not one thing you can do to erase what has happened that you do not want in your life. There is a great poem by Omar Khayyám (The Rubaiyat) that describes it well.
from The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyám
The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.
Omar Khayyám was a scholar and astronomer who lived in Iran. His poetry reflects his thoughts about the deity, good and evil, spirit, matter, and destiny.
It is sort of like looking at the wake a boat leaves as it moves forward. No matter what you do, you cannot change the wake. All you can do is look forward and make plans to control where the boat is going next. I will not dwell too long on this right now because it will be a theme going forward.For now, just make yourself much more aware that you need to ask yourself better questions. Don’t just focus on “why me?”. Rather, focus on “we are where we are – now what?”.
Pretty much anything you read about happiness will lead you to the subject of gratitude at some point. All point out that we tend to focus so much on the problems in our lives that we actually become blind to the good that is there as well.
This subject is so obvious to me that I know it is to most as well. I will not dwell too long on it here. Gratitude is a habit that has to be nurtured just like any other habit. Do not worry about the research on this idea. Do not wonder if it really will work or is just more hokum that will achieve nothing at all. Just try this for the next couple of weeks without fail and without missing once. If you miss once, start the two weeks over again.
When you get up in the morning, take a minute or two and think of at least 3 or 4 things that you can be grateful for on that particular day. It could be as simple as the hot water that you have for your shower. Or, for the transportation that will take you to your job. Or, your job! Focus on thinking about a few each morning when you get up and try to make them different each day. Don’t have time? What about in the shower, or during a bathroom break? Find the time.
Then, the last thing before you go to sleep, again think of at least 3 or 4 things that you are grateful for in general. No matter how lousy the day felt to you, make the effort to identify at least 3 or 4 reasons to be grateful. The rainbow earlier on. The snow stopped finally and it looks so brilliant now and clean. Do not limit yourself to just 3 or 4 but be sure to focus on things for which you are truly grateful when you think about it.
Some of you might want to make a journal of your ideas. A Gratitude Journal. Go ahead. I have always had a file called my rainy day file. In that I keep things that bring cheer and a smile to my face. Things that just plain make me feel good when I recall them. If I find myself a bit down and can’t seem to pick myself up (yes, I too have those days), I reach for the file and randomly look through and someting always sticks out and brings that smile and sense of calm and peace back.
To day I heard of a great file that everyone can access right away if they want to. It is another blog and it has just won an award. I encourage you to just have a look at it. It reminds us that everyday things are really remarkable but we mostly don’t notice or revel in them. This fellow reminds us to sharpen our observaation skills and see the fun in things. Enjoy it.
These days there are so many things that worry us. I guess that has always been the case. We worry about loosing our job. We worry about bad health or loss of love. When we are driving, we worry about being late, being cut off by an inconsiderate lout, being involved in an accident and all sorts of those sorts of things. We worry about finding something to eat tonight. We worry and we worry. The worry bugs leave us exhausted with not much room for happiness in our lives.
Somehow, “Don’t worry, be happy” just does not seem to cut it. So, what can we do to regain balance and be happier? Let’s look at what is happening when we worry. We have a feeling that something bad will happen and will be disastrous for us. Typically, we think we have no control and bad things will happen no matter what we do. Simply put, that is not true.
Events happen! They do not happen because we deserve them or because we are either very good (and deserve lots of good things to happen to us) or we are very bad (and deserve lots of bad things to happen to us). They happen because life is going on and stuff happens. We get results or outcomes as a result of things that we do (or that others do). How we deal with the actual outcomes and results will be the subject of another posting later on. Right now, we want to understand how to deal with the unknown future events that will happen.
The reality is that about 75 percent of the things that we worry about will not happen. Twenty percent or so of the things that we worry about, we can control or affect positively. The remainder are things over which we have absolutely no control. We can only deal with the results when they occur. If we understand that most will not happen, it makes no sense to worry about them. Think clearly and logically, what is the likelihood of this happening? If very unlikely, let it go and stop worrying about it. While thinking about the likelihood, consider, is there anything I can do to reduce the bad outcome and increase the positive outcome? If yes, start doing someting about it right away and let go of the worry.
If someting that you worry about is just beyond your control after you have done what ever you can to change things to the better, it makes no sense to worry about it does it? Let it go. Think about what you have to be grateful for. Think about your list of things that bring you great joy and peace and happiness.
Remember Earl Nightingale’s Strangest Secret: You become what you think about! Focus on the good around you. Look up, not down (in the dumps). Maybe Bob Marley was right to say “Don’t worry, be happy” after all. Live well, love always and laugh out loud every day!