Beware the Power of Your Thoughts
Time and again, we come across an article on the subject matter of positive thinking and how it can impact our life, career, relationship, and well-being in a favorable way. And yet, how come a lot of people are still depressed, discontented, and unhealthy? It is because only a few really understand the power of thoughts, and especially the connection between their thoughts and their present realities.
To use the power of our thoughts to our advantage, we have to understand how the human mind functions. For this article, we will rely mostly on the works of three authors: James Allen, the pioneer of the self-help movement, particularly his essay As A Man Thinketh, that has been mass-produced since its publication in 1903; Napoleon Hill, the author of Think and Grow Rich first published in 1937 and now on its 71st edition; and Earl Nightingale, the father of modern day personal development in his The Strangest Secret, originally produced in 1956 but has become the first spoken-word recording to attain the prestige of a Gold Record for having sold over a million copies.
Warning No. 1: The human mind does not distinguish good from bad
Allen and Nightingale have both likened the human mind to a farmer’s land. The land will yield you an abundance of what you plant as long as you do your part as a farmer to care for the plant. But the land cannot choose and doesn’t actually care what you plant. The choice is the farmer’s to make. If the farmer plants an edible and then a poisonous plant and takes care of both, the land will return an abundance of both. It doesn’t care that the other is poisonous and could bring harm to the farmer.
The human mind works the same way. It doesn’t concern itself what we think, but must manifest dominant thoughts in our affairs. If we think happy thoughts, our happy genes will kick in to put us in contact with happy situations. Conversely, if we dwell in negative thoughts, our mind will give us the experiences corresponding to those thoughts. It can start with simply missing our morning alarm that can lead to a string of unfortunate events throughout the day; we get caught up in traffic, arrive late for work, are told-off by our boss, etc.
Like all the other laws of nature, the human mind is also inflexible. It does not analyze and concern itself that our thoughts will do us harm or good. Whatever we feed it, it must return.
Warning No. 2: Our prevailing thoughts create our life condition
Out of ignorance, we like to believe in coincidences – that whatever life we have right now is a result of pure luck or lack of it.
Allen said “every man is where he is by the law of being; the thoughts which he has built have brought him there, and in the arrangement of his life, there is no element of chance, but all is the result of a law which cannot err.”
In Nightingale’s words: “every one of us is the sum total of our own thoughts. We are where we are because that’s exactly where we really want or feel we deserve to be, whether we admit that or not. Each of us must live off the fruit of our thoughts in the future, because what you think today and tomorrow – next month and next year – will mold your life and determine your future.”
If you have a great marriage right now, I am sure it is because you and your spouse have thought it possible to have a fulfilling relationship and made efforts toward it. If your business is thriving, it is because you have goals you are consistently working on achieving. If you are steadily rising in your career, it is because you have continually upgraded your skills set technically and socially. There are no accidents. Everything is a result of an initial thought that you worked on and eventually achieved.
Warning No. 3: Our mind needs constant direction
What if I don’t plant anything on my mind? A lot of people do that. Do you notice what happens to an unattended patch of land? It yields an abundance of weeds! It doesn’t remain clean and empty just because nobody is planting anything.
Imagine a ship that sets sail without a captain. It could float for days on end going where the wind blows. If it doesn’t eventually capsize, it will surely end up elsewhere. But put a captain on it with clear directions and logistics for the voyage, and it will get to the destination as planned. It has to get there. That is the law.
The mind works in the same fashion. If you don’t plant on it anything, it will run wild in confusion and lack of direction. If you don’t run your own mind, like the ship without a captain, others (the wind) will run it for you – and those others are not particularly concerned about where you end up. We give our minds direction when we plant it with goals. Without a goal, a person will end up anywhere, and anywhere is not really a good destination.
Warning No. 4: We become what we think about
Napoleon Hill spent 25 years in research, analyzing more than 500 of the wealthiest men to find out how they become that way. He came up with the formula which is the subject of his book Think and Grow Rich. Riches, he said, begin with a state of mind, with definiteness of purpose, with little or no hard work. We become what we think about.
What do we always think about? Are they thoughts supportive to the goals we are pursuing? We cannot want success yet fill our minds with worry, fear, panic and thoughts not aligned with success. Fredrickson (1998, 2001) in a field experiment revealed that “happy individuals are more likely than their less happy peers to have fulfilling marriages and relationships, high incomes, superior work performance, community involvement, robust health, and a long life.” Also, Lyubomirsky, King, & Diener (2005) in a meta-analysis of about 300 findings published in the 2005 Psychological Bulletin concluded that “positive emotions produce success and health as much as they reflect them.”
Now that we understand the power of our thoughts, that it can execute any order we direct it to do, we can use it to our advantage. By right application, we indeed can become masters of our destiny.
Allen, James. As A Man Thinketh. Ebook available at http://jamesallen.wwwhubs.com/think.htm
Fredrickson, Cohn, Coffey, Pek, & Finkel. Open Hearts Build Lives: Positive Emotions, Induced Through Loving-Kindness Meditation, Build Consequential Personal Resources. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol 95(5), Nov 2008, 1045-1062.
Hill, Napoleon. Think and Grow Rich. 71st Edition, published by www.ThinkAndGrowRichGifts.com.au
Nightingale, Earl. The Strangest Secret. Ebook available at http://www.k-state.edu/band/downloads/handouts/TheStrangestSecretRI.pdf
Lyubomirsky, King, & Diener. The Benefits of Frequent Positive Affect: Does Happiness Lead to Success?Psychological Bulletin by the American Psychological Association, Vol. 131, No. 6, 803– 855; 2005