When it comes to making changes last Aristotle said “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act but a habit”. That’s fine for him to say but making a new habit usually involves breaking an old habit and that can sometimes be incredibly difficult.
There are some really important reasons why that can be so difficult, that once understood can enable us to make the process of changing ourselves and improving our lives much easier.
The driving force of change is the inner mind and the inner mind follows some fundamental guidelines. So, no matter how much hope, effort or goodwill you pour into being different, if you don’t follow these key principles you won’t be able to enjoy real and lasting changes in your life and all the subsequent happiness that they will bring.
Like so many things, this understanding should really be taught in schools. We should all be taught how our minds work and how we can make changes in our behaviour, as this will in turn help us learn how to be happy. I remain amazed that our education system doesn’t think that the science of character and the technology of behaviour change is an important part of what might make for useful life tools? But anyway, dissecting the challenges of the educational system is for another time.
Right now I wanted to share with you my love and admiration for the human mind and how best to create behaviour change.
The subconscious mind believes the things you say to it but unfortunately it works in the present tense. So, if you use the future tense when trying to improve yourself you can cause real problems for yourself. For example if you are currently saying to yourself I am going to start exercising next week or I am going to stop eating chocolate tomorrow or you are promising to start being “good” next week, whatever that “good “may be it will likely never happen, or it will involve enormous amounts of willpower that make it hard or impossible to keep up.
The only way to create change in your life is to create change in the moment. Otherwise you are placing your positive self in the future, which your unconscious mind simply cannot relate to.
All your inner mind hears and understands is where you are NOW so if you state that you are planning to eat more vegetables next week or less chocolate tomorrow or have a better month next month, that may seem like a positive thing to say to yourself but by phrasing it in that way, you are unfortunately sending a very clear message to your unconscious about where you are today.
Your inner mind hears that today you are someone that doesn’t eat vegetables, it hears that you are someone still eating chocolate and if your good month will be next month then today you must be performing below what is possible. If you place your new or “good” behaviour in the future it will never happen because what is NOW is what continues. It is a real shame that when people are doing their best to change that the very way they are talking about change is the main barrier to that change happening. Most people don’t realise that they are defining themselves in a limiting way.
So when it comes to change we have to find a way to create the change in the moment. We have to think in terms of already being that person. We have to become the person in the instant and act according to that, we have to believe and behave in ways that are consistent with this new reality.
An additional challenge is that it is really important that it also can’t feel new. If it feels new it will feel as though you are saying that it is not real, like a person who has given up smoking remarking to themselves that they have not smoked for 2 days. They may feel that they are supporting themselves and confirming themselves as a non-smoker, actually what they are doing is relating to themselves as a smoker. People that don’t smoke don’t go round thinking about how long it has been since they had a cigarette.
We have to become in the moment what we want to feel, who we want to be and we need to act in accordance with who and what that is. We have on average 60,000 thoughts a day and amazingly 95 % of those thoughts are the same thoughts as we had the day before.
Taking control of our thoughts, improving our language patterns, creating positive imagery in our mind, generating positive feelings in our body and literally pulling all the feelings and thoughts together that give us the experience of a mind-set that is in keeping with who we are when we are at our best not tomorrow, not next week but NOW. That is the key to creating change in your life. When actors perform on stage, the audience think that all the props, the costumes and sets are there to make the audience believe that it is real. That is true to a degree but all those props are really there for the actor to believe that it is real. Then, they can make you believe in them, which is actually what carries the production.
You are the programmer, the player in the middle of your own life, chose the thoughts, feelings and surroundings that fit the life you want to experience.
Marinate yourself both internally and externally with the representations of the amazing life you are creating, experience it as a normal reflection of the most obvious and wisest way for you to enjoy your life. Feel that life as your life now. Become certain about the parts that you know to be true and build that picture around you, grow into the amazing experience of what it is like to be your best. Maybe you are thinking to yourself, well I can’t lie to myself- I can’t pretend that myself and my life are great or perfect when I haven’t yet achieved perfect health and fitness or financial freedom or changed the world or whatever it is you are seeking to create tomorrow.
The truth is that all of your dreams and all of your hopes do not come tomorrow; they are made and experienced today. Your success tomorrow is created by your beliefs and your actions today. If you are laying the foundations of a life that at some point will lead you to being super healthy, debt free, or any number of other wonderful things, then don’t wait to feel the feelings associated with that THEN- feel them NOW. Believe in yourself as that type of person NOW. Use the language patterns that person, would use NOW. For example, a debt free day is not a day when you owe no money. A debt free day is a day when you spend less than you earn.
Same with weight loss. A thin day is not only something you feel good about when you are thin. A thin day is the day that you use more calories that you ingest. Your body shape or your bank balance will soon be aligned with your actions. Have 365 thin days in a row and your body will most likely be in great shape. Thinness, success or happiness then comes from being the person who is making that happen today.
Don’t struggle today to create success tomorrow. Don’t take unhappy action today for the idea of getting somewhere happy tomorrow.
Be happy Now, be successful now, be healthy today, make healthy happy, successful choices today and your life will soon be a reflection of those values and you will discover that all the joy you seek is waiting deep inside you to be experienced, created and enjoyed right NOW.
Tom Fortes Mayer, founder of FreeMind
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