Finding the Positive in the Negative

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A reflective post about acquiring new, more constructive and positive thoughts.

Often by default we do not have the optimum thoughts, no matter how smart we think we are. We are our own programmers, so we write our own destiny, even though much of what we have running inside us is also adopted from the environment and upbringing for example.

However what would happen, if something went wrong or will go wrong along the way? Unless we learn the skill of unlearning bad thinking patterns, and replacing them with more skillful ones we are likely going to end up suffering a lot.

One such thinking pattern that I’ve had to confront in my life recently has to do with abundance.

About a year ago I read this book The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks. Yet now as I’ve listened thoughts about the book through podcasts, I’ve understood that I remember quite a little from the book. I revisited my notes and I got excited: I have to read this book again. So what I did yesterday on Sunday was to purchase Audible edition, put the speed on 1.7X and listened almost the whole book in one sitting and made meticulous notes as the author himself was reading the book for me. This was absolutely brilliant way to spend my time, because on this time I picked up very much different things than on the first reading.

On the first time I read the book about a year ago there was literally too much to handle at a one time. We can only process one thought at a time anyway, so it wouldn’t make much sense to do more. On this time thought I was able to focus more on the content and how to apply it than during the first time.

Especially interesting concept are the upper limit problems, the kind of subconscious thinking through which we (our own ego) starts sabotaging us. This is also outlined in the book: Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday and widely in psychology as well. Idea is that, we are rather in familiar hell than unknown heaven. Our ego is afraid, and that’s why we would sabotage ourselves.

This is also the reason why Winston Churchill said that courage is the primary virtue, because nothing would happen if we would stay crippled by fear. In the book Hendricks quotes Fitz Perls that fear is excitement without breath and suggests that cure for fear is simply start breathing.

I picked up the success / abundance / love mantra that was introduced in the book, however what I found particularly useful was the thought that whenever something perhaps undesired happens, is to view it as just so that something wonderful must be happening. This is based on the idea that we are sabotaging ourselves, because we have reached an upper limit where we cannot ourselves to enjoy the good fortune. Therefore right place to shift the attention is to wonder what kind of wonderful things are going to happen next.

Don’t Let the Limits Bother You

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Creativity blossoms out of limits.

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” ― Henry Ford

Excuses are form of our own thoughts limiting our own actions. Let go of excuses.

Beliefs what is or is not possible is a form of limitation. Do not let beliefs hold you back, look to open up possibilities.

What we have achieved before, does not mean something is impossible. It has just merely been done before. Do not let past, history limit you.

What others think you can or cannot do, is not necessarily accurate judgement. Do not let others determine what you can or cannot do. You know yourself best and if you think you have a chance, try it out.

Do not let the limits bother you, even if there are limits, seek to build bridges in between. You will find more strength and are able to summon unexpected strength and creativity. Limits are the construction material for greatness.

Breakthroughs

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Learning happens in breakthroughs, not linearly like might be expected.

In life in order to get to the new level, you must bear the emotional cost of the frustration. Frustration is the emotional cost and price for the breakthrough. If you are willing to do the right work and, keep building the belief of success, you will succeed.

After a breakthrough and upon reaching a new level, there will be plateau, a time of rather stagnant period where the changes are not that dramatic. Stagnation follows action. If there is not action, even regression might follow soon, this is why the “use it or lose it” is very accurate phrase.

Breakthroughs are fun, they are what makes life worth living for.

There are perhaps there qualities that lead to breakthrough:

  • Persistence
  • Right action
  • Belief that this can be done (helps with persistence ;))

Breakthroughs happen especially when all you’ve learned is crystallized in action such way that it brings results.

Positive Beliefs: Life is a Wonderful Adventure

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When you allow more positive beliefs to your life and reduce the limiting beliefs to your life, your daily experience will not be the same, ever.

Yesterday as I listened the Awaken the Giant Within abridged edition (to my disappointment). I did pick up quite a few useful thoughts from there. Mainly there was this idea about beliefs as tables and then there are these stories that either give the table more legs or take them away.

With limiting beliefs, we ought to question them and take some legs away.

With positive beliefs, we ought to strengthen them and add more legs to the table (reasons to believe). The stronger the references, the stronger we will believe them.

Positive beliefs allow us to live more fully, we are not limited by the unseen any longer. We allow us to be something we can be.

It’s an incredible realization to see that what you believe supports your reality. I am suggesting you to become a bit positive lunatic, not completely though.

Optimism is in itself about having positive illusions about life. This makes life worth living, even if this is partially true. Optimism in itself can be dangerous too as I’ve written before.

Martin Seligman, one of the founders of the positive psychology field and also a person who has developed something he calls “learned optimism” – which can be helped to cure people who have what he calls ‘learned helplessness’. It’s very interesting concept, where he also warns of the dangers.

Stock market crashes and too overly optimism is not a good thing. Then our decisions are not based on the reality at all, but to our illusions.

With the positive beliefs, I believe we can though questioning find right mix of realism and joy of life. Life has more to offer to us than we think and we have more to offer to the life than we can imagine. That’s why we need optimism and positive beliefs.

Questions are a good tool to sharpen the thinking, and with this we can test if the reasons and references for our beliefs are true or not. By doing this the questioning exercise often enough, we quickly notice that the negative beliefs are not worth it. Positive beliefs combined with actual gratefulness makes life really joyful.

List your positive beliefs about yourself and the world.

Then make another list about the negative beliefs.

I did this exercise yesterday and  I noticed that most of the negative beliefs that popped up didn’t make much sense. I started writing right away reasons that these are actually causing more pain than any good to me and I started to distance myself to these thoughts.

At the same time, I started seeking more positive beliefs. In fact since my imagination was only limited, I could come up with a few good ones, yet I felt lacking something. Then I tried googling and right away for example this list of 100 positive beliefs comes handy, you can take a belief or two from there that really resonate with you and make it your own.

Life is a wonderful adventure,

Janne

Upgrade the Stories You Tell to Yourself

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Be mindful of what you tell to yourself, about yourself, the day and the expectations.

Have positive expectations! By the things you say to yourself you can make each day a wonderful adventure. You would like to think that life is good and the world is conspiring to help you.

We can choose what we believe. It’s much more fun to think that the good things are going to happen today than bad things, right?

Easy to acknowledge, a bit more difficult to do, because this does take effort. However, the best time to start is now so that little by little you are able to remove the unskillful patterns and then manage the rest of the unhelpful thoughts as they come. Finally then you can fully nurture the thoughts that nurture your growth and experience of the life in total.

And your positive thinking does not only affect yourself, it increases primarily the wellbeing of those around you.

What are you waiting for? Create more positive stories about yourself, the world and the people. You will attract more opportunities this way than you will ever by complaining.

Have a wonderful evening!

Janne

Limiting Beliefs: Are You Really?

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Mostly what prevents us from doing the great things, is our own beliefs. Because of beliefs we choose not to do the small things, which with enough repetition lead to the great things.

For example: “I cannot go out walking, because I am hungry.”

Are you really? When did you last eat? If it has been within today then you do not have a problem. If you haven’t eaten today you probably should figure out that first.

Since I am writing from the first world perspective, I try to remind that human beings can go about a month without proper food if it needs to be. So taking the walk today isn’t really going to make you die out of hunger.

Do the things in priority order: if you’ve been sitting  at office all day and you are considering  if you should eat first when you come home or go jogging, the choice is obvious: go jogging first. You can survive another 30 min or one hour without the food, but what are the chances to crash to a comfy position and never get out of the door?

I have to say the probabilities to stay at home during winter time here in Finland are quite high, although on every day I think possible it is possible to get out there. Much of what we seem unpleasant is not that much about it really, it’s how we interpret it.

Challenge your beliefs! Are you really what you think you are?

The Choice

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You have a choice; you can choose what you believe. Your beliefs will translate as action, which will then again translate as results.

Beliefs may or may not have some basis. During the weekend, I was discussing with my brother and I understood. I understood a thing about my own past and then I presented a question what causes people to challenge their beliefs?

Answer is something from outside needs to challenge our beliefs, which then with later reflection may tip us to turn into ourselves and ask if it’s true or not. Even more accurately a blog post that I found describes this belief formation and questioning: How Our Beliefs Form and What Causes us to Question Them.

When I think about my own life, nine years ago I did question my beliefs and decided to start test some these beliefs if they are right or not. Turns out most of my beliefs were not true.

As I read that blog and saw the set of questions to challenge some of my beliefs I am quite certain that I’ve still a lot to do.

We have a choice about our beliefs. World is wonderful place when we have more positive beliefs about people and things. When we look at the facts, world is at the moment better than ever before. What do you choose to believe in today?

Why Do We Compare Ourselves with Others?

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Good thing about suffering is that is that it’s mostly subjective experience. This morning I noticed that I am again in the present state suffering quite a lot, because of unskillful habit of comparison.

So I decided to take a moment and reflect upon this question. Quickly I decided to take Google with me and I asked the question there. So then I found Quora reply by Awdhesh Singh to this same question.

I am not surprised that I found answers online, however the particular answer put me to work some more. What I love about world and net, is that our understanding is not perfect yet. We can construct upon it, and even challenge the knowledge we have and this is exactly what I did.

I think this kind of positive constructive dialogue is way ahead. So instead of accepting wholly the original reply, I began to break it down, reflect and comment upon it.

Awdhesh begins by writing that “We have a natural desire” and contradicts this in the next sentence with “We are not born with the desire of comparison.”

In life often many things can be true at the same time. I considered here the possibility as well. However, after reading through it several times and reflecting these statements to all my previous knowledge, I would argue that the first statement is wrong. We do not have natural desire to compare, instead we have a habitual desire like he mentions in the second paragraph. Mostly my argument would be founded to I’ve learned in the Charles Duhigg’s Power of Habits and Gretchen Ruben’s books.

In third paragraph he mentions a brilliant keyword “believing.”

“However, slowly we were told that we must be better than others. This starts happening since a child goes to the school. You are constantly told to get the top rank in the class or stand among the top. If you play a game, you must play to win and be the best player. If you get a lower rank, you are shamed and even humiliated. Gradually, we start believing that in order to be happy and make others happy, we must be better than others. You must work harder to be better than others by any means.”

This was a breakthrough for me personally, because I am fascinated by habit and belief formation. As I mentioned earlier the Power of Habits book, that habits have three elements: cue, routine and reward.

When I began to reflect this question “Why do we compare ourselves with others?” in the habit context, I see that these three elements are in place:

  • Cue, for example work place results or in games the scoreboard. In life we have all kinds of scoreboards as well such as status symbols, clothes etc. All of these are triggers for the habit routine.
  • Routine, “how well others are doing vs. I am…”. Personally I noticed that the routine itself is deeply rooted in our identity and memory, what we have done, who we are now, who we are striving to be…
  • Reward: at simplest forms it is the feeling of momentarily gratification of being better. However when I started to probe deeper I noticed that for me it is linked with a belief of being worthy as well. Being good, means being loved, means attention is the currency of love. Belief that the better we are, the more we are loved.

From here we get to the belief levels: beliefs what we focus the most are the strongest. I.e. this belief that the better we the more love we deserve is not necessarily the best belief to hold. In the end, we want to be loved, we want attention. Surely at the top we get attention, however what kind of attention it is we so much desire?

Also aren’t we worthy of the kind of attention already as we are? I think we are. Our own beliefs just might contradict each other and if we end up thinking that we are worthy only when we are better than everyone else, we might not end up so well.

Be careful on which kinds of beliefs you decide to focus on. The reason why we compare ourselves to each other is a result of a belief and habit. Habits cannot be simply discarded as Awdhesh mentioned, yet like Charles Duhigg points out in Power of Habit, habits can be transformed. Awdhesh suggests some positive practices such as Count Your Blessings, Learn from Others, Respect Good Qualities which are actions in the right directions.

However, personally I do not feel like these are merely enough. I notice that the process needs to begin much earlier by being mindful of cue-routine-reward situations and the beliefs we operate on. Then we need to start working towards transforming the unwanted patterns into more healthy and helpful ones.

Strikethrough the Unwanted and Ask How Instead

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Words reflect our thinking. If we rephrase our words, we also reprogram our thinking.

Some examples:

  • Limiting “best known result” – If we too much limit our thinking by setting the best possibility that ever has existed in our reality, we may not be able to think broadly and imaginatively. We hamper our own and the growth of others.
  • Impossibilities “It can’t be done”, “I can’t afford it” – easy trap to fall into is to say something can’t be done. It has never been about it can be done. Much more productive is to ask how it can be done?
  • Negatives – swear words and in general anything that evokes the negative feelings. It can also be the tone of voice, i.e. yelling or screaming.
  • Distractions “I’ll do this later…” – effective way to decide is to ask yourself, when is this?

To practice these, notice the thoughts, write the thought down, strikethrough and replace it with smarter way to say it.

Janne

Synthesis from Science of Money and Some Other Books

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So I just finished Science of Money by Brian Tracy and I was thinking to write summary. However, just writing a summary isn’t right, because there are so many interesting things from other sources as well which I thought to throw in the mix.

Science of Money gets a big recommendation from me, if you are interested about money. On the measure of how much Kindle highlights I’ve made, this was a great book with a lots of learning as I exceeded the 10% with over five percentage points. The fact that I cannot even highlight and remember everything, is a very good sign that if you are interested, get the book.

Book starts by verbalizing what I have been thinking and experiencing a in my professional life: “Money remains one of the most thought – provoking , emotional , and polarizing subjects in the world.”

Whenever we start to talk about money with people we do not know well, it is a topic that does easily cause strong emotions and polarizes. Conversations can end or light up quickly.

What is money? Money is medium of exchange, the medium to exchange value. Things themselves do not have any value, only when there is someone to pay.

As Yuval Noah Harari put in Sapiens “money is the most universal and most efficient system of mutual trust ever devised.” Money is medium of exchange, and it’s based on trust and belief that you can exchange it tomorrow too.

More important than money, is however the value. And because we all exchange our services for something, we better be always looking to create more value. Because of this, Brian Tracy puts it well that everybody works on straight commission. To me this was a breakthrough thought that instantly connected with another thought from Daniel Pink’s book to Sell is Human: “selling is moving people”, therefore we are all in sales.  I think this thought by Brian Tracy is really interestingly combined with this thought and creates even greater thought:  we are all in sales with straight commission.

When we begin to internalize this, we start to think more about the value we create in the hours, days and weeks. Brian puts it well that wealthy people work for six days a week. They also keep on investing on themselves to keep on learning new valuable skills.

Earning ability, the skills is important. Even more important is the habit of saving money from what you earn, after that you can scale up.

Parkinson’s Law and How to Use It

More importantly Brian goes through most relevant laws that govern money and earning. They all important, yet in here I would like to focus on Parkinson’s law that says expenses rise to meet the income. Or “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

On contemplating this, I’ve successfully understood why Elon Musk for example divides his time into five minute chunks to get more done. Even bigger chunks such as 30 min or 45 minute will work. Setting a time limit for a task will make sure that it will get done.

Identity and limiting beliefs

Brian goes to length talk about limiting beliefs, self-doubt in particular that as he shares in one story, is the tool of the devil as the metaphor.

As a medicine for self-doubt he recommends the inverse paranoia (believing that world is conspiring to make you succeed) that was practiced for example by W . Clement Stone who was worth 800 million $ at the time he died.

Many of us live with kind of (socially programmed) level of self-worth in money and social as well. This is mostly unconscious, we inherit from our childhood and youth environment and strive for it. If we are below the level of our programmed level of living standard, we are willing to work harder. If we are above, we will find ways to spend and get rid of the money.

Changing your identity about money happens as with any habit: slowly and surely. As with getting anywhere, visualizing the success and using the imagination to be actually already there is the first step to achievement. This is the way for example soccer hero’s are born: young boys watching their childhood heroes on the field. Or for any pop star as well, it all starts with a dream – a visualization and then a long journey with many tiny steps towards that dream.

Money is not the end goal, as said, money is just a metric on how much value you are creating. However, be patient, learn, learn and learn. You will be surprised: this is a more probably road than winning a lottery.

“The most important principle of personal or business success is simply this; you become what you think about most of the time.” – Brian Tracy

Since all money just measures how much value is being created, the value creation is critical. All value is created from nothing. This makes life a wonderful adventure, because it means we there is no limit to the value we can create if we are imaginative.

If your work is profitable then it’s worth of your time and effort, a nature’s way of guiding us.

 

Work and Humility

“When you go to work, work. Put your head down and work.” – Brian Tracy

Brian gives about working and understanding that working is exchanging value and then value should be maximized. With the acknowledgement that we are all humans, I like this kind of thinking. When we work, the focus should be working and creating value for the customers. To create value for customers we need to be finding new ways to serve these people in customer organizations.

Then I might add a different point of view as well, that our focus as human beings is rather limited. There are no such things as 12 hour productive streaks. We need to stay focused and productive during our day, however in between there should be smart breaks, a bit of exercise, and why not some laughter as well.

Overall I really like the idea of recognizing when you should be focusing and working and when you should be having fun is a big difference and I like the humility here as an approach.

Cause and Effect

 “All wealth, all happiness, all prosperity, all success are the direct and indirect effects or results of specific causes or actions” – Brian Tracy

To conclude so much content, I would say that value creation, through work and imagination are the basis. One important thing is what is called secondary consequences. This thought really hit me, that I actually see think about this stuff! Most people think only about what happens next, primary consequence if you do this or that. However, there are also the secondary consequences which will happen eventually from other perspectives.

Whatever you want to achieve in life you can either achieve it by chance or doing something differently. Study the cause and effect, and think of the secondary consequences too.