Our Life Is What Our Thoughts Make It

Our life is what our thoughts make it.

By simply changing the way we think, we can change our lives. Are we perhaps thinking too much? Rather than pay attention to thinking about what someone else said about me, if I could just focus on my own thoughts, in conserving them, they would become so powerful. One who doesn’t get influenced by what someone else thinks or says about us will always remain happy. If we really care about someone, then ask how they are. Share with them.

Remember that thoughts are a foundation of my life. Emerson said: “A man is what he thinks about all day long.” How could he possibly be anything else? The biggest and really the only thing that you and I have to pay any attention to in our lives is choosing the right thoughts. If we do that we will be headed in the direction to solving all our problems. “Our life is what our thoughts make it”.

Yes, if we think happy thoughts, we will be happy. If we think sorry thoughts, we will be sorry. If we think fearsome thoughts, we will be fearful. If we think failure, we will certainly fail. If we are depressed and agonizing in self-pity, everyone will want to shun us and avoid us. As Norman Peale said, “you are not what you think you are; but what you think, you are.”

Our peace of mind and the joy we get out of living depends not on how big a home we live in, what our job title is or who we are but solely upon how we feel internally or in other words, on our state of mind. External conditions have very little to do with it. For example, we feel at peace when we see beautiful scenery – the vast ocean spread out before me flanked with mountains on either side the trees and the sand. But what about this scenery brings us peace? Is it the ocean or the trees? When you think about it, it becomes apparent that it is not any one thing but the way in which all of these things co-exist with each other. It’s the way that all the various colors and sounds blend with each other. It’s this same harmonious coexistence that we yearn for within ourselves.

Yes, if we cherish creative thoughts of courage and calmness, we can enjoy the scenery while sitting on our couch at home.

Milton in his blindness discovered that same truth three hundred years ago:

The mind is its own place, and in itself

Can make a heaven of Hell, a hell of Heaven

Napoleon and Helen Keller are perfect illustrations of Milton’s statement: Napoleon had everything men usually crave-glory, power, riches-yet he said: “I have never known six happy days in my life”; while Helen Keller blind, deaf, dumb-declared: “I have found life so beautiful.”

Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. We often find ourselves thinking: “If only I pass this exam, I’d be happy”, “If only my friend thinks I’m looking pretty, I’d be happy”, “if only I had a good day at work today, I’d be happy”, if only, if only….. In fact, the only, if only you and I need to worry about is: “if only I remember to pay attention to what I’m thinking today and have only positive, uplifting thoughts then I can make every minute of every day a positive, peaceful and happy one.  Nothing can bring me peace but myself.

A man will find that as he alters his thoughts towards things and other people, things and other people will alter towards him. Let’s stop emotionally abusing ourselves. It’s not what others say about that hurts us but it’s rather what we do about what they say or do that hurts us. There was a time when I felt that it was okay to think what I wanted as long as I don’t speak anything bad or hurtful.  So when I talked to someone who wasn’t quite my favorite person in the world, I would tend to have negative thoughts about that person but made sure I nodded and talked nicely. However, I realized later that our thoughts travel faster than words. So even though I may be talking nicely with the person sitting in front of me, my thoughts have already reached that person. He or she can understand when you are listening vs. when you are simply hearing. So rather than do that – in other words, rather than pretend, lie and be hurtful, why not ask ourselves that if I am capable of controlling the words that emerge from my mouth, why can’t we change our thoughts too?

… Let a man radically alter his thoughts, and he will be astonished at the rapid transformation it will affect in the conditions of his life. Men do not attract what they want, but what they are. All that a man achieves is the direct result of his own thoughts. … A man can only rise, conquer and achieve by lifting up his thoughts. He can only remain weak and miserable by refusing to lift up his thoughts.”

We find it hard to function in an unclean environment. We all spend hours in a week cleaning our homes, we clean our desks at work at the end of the day. Some of us even paint the walls in our homes every so many months to make the home look more vibrant and welcoming. We decorate the interiors of our living and work spaces with utmost care ensuring we display just the right things in the right places and not have any junk lying around that might spoil the decor. We ensure nothing is out of place. If we pay so much attention to the external environment, then shouldn’t I be paying exponentially more time and attention to our own minds? Why? Because I can change your home or your office and pick a different one but I have only one mind and how I feel internally determines the very quality of my life.

Many of us suffer from mood swings – when in a good mood, we have a smile on our faces. Even if someone were to say a few harsh words, we’re likely to let that pass during this time. In a bad mood, we become grumpy and any little thing from someone pushes us over the edge. While we already are aware of and spend more time than we should in thinking of how these moods make us feel internally, we spend much less time thinking of how our moods affect our environment, those around us. When our mood is positive, our interactions are positive. When our mood is negative, our interactions are bound to be negative. If we are mothers, this affects our families, especially kids. If we are leaders at work, this affects our teams and sets a bad example. No one likes to work for a grumpy boss.  But more importantly, when you think about it allowing our self-created moods to affect others is a tad selfish and disrespectful. Turns out the world does not revolve around us after all! We are only a part of it.  Just as you and I consider ourselves the most important people in this world, others feel the same way about themselves. We are not rational but rather emotional beings. The sooner we accept this truth, the easier it is to appreciate that it is normal to disagree, to have diverse perspectives and know that we are all right – it’s simply a matter of perspective. There is no wrong answer. Being unaccepting, rigid, moody and frustrated with things is a sign of ego – an attachment to an expectation of how a situation should turn out or how someone should behave.

While we all go through life with many desires, when you think about it, all that we really desire is mastery over myself-mastery over my thoughts; victory over my fears; control over my mind and over my spirit. And the good news is that I know that I can attain this dominance to a great degree, any time I want to, by merely controlling my actions-which in turn control my reactions. Every thought I have generates a feeling which in turn generates an action. Every action leaves an impression on the soul which then shapes the soul’s attitude and personality. This is then how we come across to others.

As William James said, “Much of what we call Evil … can often be converted into a good by a simple change of the sufferer’s inner attitude from one of fear to one of fight.”

So, let’s fight for our happiness! If we want to develop a mental attitude that will bring us peace and happiness, Think and act cheerfully, and you will feel cheerful.

To feel cheerful, developing a positive attitude instead of a negative attitude is imperative. In other words, it’s okay to be concerned about our problems, but not worried. What is the difference between concern and worry? Every time I cross the streets or climb up a flight of stairs or hold a knife to cut my vegetables, I am concerned about what I am doing-but not worried. Concern is to understand a situation and then take precautions or steps to handle it. Worrying is going round in circles without really getting anywhere. A man can be concerned about his serious problems and still walk with his chin up and a carnation in his buttonhole.

Let’s not allow ourselves to be upset by small things we should forgive and forget. Remember “Life is too short to be little.”

Belief system affects our thoughts and reactions. This is the code that guides our reactions to external stimuli. Check this belief system to see if this is correct.  Re-programming my mind is meditation. Changing the roots will automatically change my thoughts, feelings and actions. Use silence to tell myself that I am a peaceful soul, loveful soul. Then when the situation comes, I will not have to create the thought that I am a peaceful soul. Even if I could do that, I would only be doing it externally, temporarily.

Low self- esteem is ego. Meditation first fills the soul, it hits on the self-esteem. We tend to celebrate ego and confused it for self- respect. Accept the situation, don’t fight it.

You will never have a problem that does not have a solution. It depends on how long we take to see the solution.

Positive thinking: When I create the negative thoughts, I have to consciously change my thoughts. When my thought is negative, my feelings will be negative.

(1) Creating negative thoughts for myself: Others don’t like me.

(2) Negative for others: Is this the way to do this. My family does not support me. My team simply does not understand me. The world is a mess. The country will never improve. What can I achieve by just changing myself when everyone else will remain like this.

If I don’t like my boss and I can’t change my job, then every day I go to work hating my boss- this creates anger, frustration, tension. Even when the boss gives me something genuine to do, I will not trust him. My career will be affected for sure because of this. But I think all this happened because of you, not me. I can’t change my job, can’t change my boss but I can change myself. Because it will not just mean me living in pain and hurt but it will also show in my work performance. Then we should accept that responsibility.

Rather than be in pain thinking that you are responsible for it, I need to realize that I am the one creating the pain. For how long do I want to stay in pain? Now or in 6 months? I can’t stop you from feeling the way you do but I can control my own thoughts and feelings. So why not focus on myself- the only thing I can control.

Nothing in my life is constant. What was true 10 years ago in my life is no longer true. My life is like a flowing river- there is constant change whether in job, people etc. We try to control the river by building dam but this simply creates pressure on the other side. So I created this stress/pressure for myself. So really, the only thing that is constant is change. Don’t struggle with change. When it comes before you, you have to change too. Do I choose to continue to live my life in pain or will I choose to face the situation. Look at change as opportunity rather than a problem. Change is feared not because of what the change can do in isolation but rather because we don’t know how it will affect my current position. Fear of losing my position, job, people etc.

When we start we have a thought, we then have a feeling and the feelings I have developed over the period of time creates attitude. He is like this only, this country is like this only etc. We then come into action but we tend to focus on the action alone and forget the 3 things that happen before this.  Actions that I repeat over and over again form my personality. So we have to print in our minds that my personality is based on my thoughts. My personality comes into relationships, work, connections and other things.

Tomorrow, I will remember that it is okay that the environment will have all kinds of information to influence us but I will know that I only have to control 1 thing – myself. I will not go into pain because of these things. Change is inevitable – my child will change and have its opinion. Accept this as reality. Once self-management happens, situation will manage itself. At end of day, situation is nothing but our experience. As long as I take care of myself and remain undisturbed, I will be happy. Simple things we can do to manage self are:

(1)    Accept information after filtering: Don’t get carried away by the feast. Eat based on your appetite, else you will be sick. Don’t get entangled in people’s life because then you lose focus on your own life. Be there when the person needs you but don’t discuss unnecessarily.

(2)    Don’t read the news 1st thing in the morning. Fill yourself up with positive information. Don’t give yourself permission to be in pain.

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One Response to Our Life Is What Our Thoughts Make It

  1. priya says:

    hi shiv darshan,
    I am glad that i read your post. It is very practical and impactful post. The thing i felt most is that you said when we dont like someone, still we talk them nicely and normaly, our thoughts reach to them correctly, though our words sound nicer.
    Continue to share what you feel and experiences you had.

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