Mentoring Letter 399 The Power Of Thoughts
“Thinking is powerful stuff whether you’re shaping your moment, or shaping your lifetime.” Author Unknown
All day and much of the night our mind is constantly thinking, interpreting, and trying to make sense of what is taking place in our lives. Your thoughts shape your feelings and your feelings can shape your actions. In fact, thinking is a skill. Let’s test your thinking for a moment:
The Bathtub Test: During a visit to the mental asylum, a visitor asked the Director what the criterion was which defined whether or not a patient should be institutionalised. “Well,” said the Director, “we fill up a bathtub, and then we offer a teaspoon, a teacup and a bucket to the patient and ask him or her to empty the bathtub.” What would you use? “Oh, I understand,” said the visitor. “A normal person would use the bucket because it’s bigger than the spoon or the teacup.” “No.” said the director, “A normal person would just pull the plug. Do you want a bed near a window?”
Hehe! Did you pass the test?
Our minds are incredibly powerful. In his book ‘You and Your Thoughts’, Earl D. Radmacher said, “Your brain is capable of recording 800 memories per second for 75 years without ever getting tired.” Microsoft tells us that when you throw a ball to someone, our mind makes 732 million calculations just to catch a ball. Unfortunately the incredible power of our minds isn’t always harnessed for our good. In fact, just the opposite. As I think back of interactions with people this past week, statements like “I am not capable” “I can’t do this” “I am too scared” “What if I fail?” “I am only…” “It isn’t possible” “Nothing will ever change” seem to be the standard verbal responses of so many of us. We seem to be wonderfully adept at disempowering ourselves.
According to an October 29, 1994, story from the Reuters news agency, a Chinese woman named Zhang Meihua began to suffer mysterious symptoms when she turned twenty. She was losing the ability to nimbly move her legs and arms. Doctors could not find the cause, and the symptoms continued. Two decades passed, and Zhang began to also suffer from chronic headaches. Again she sought help from the doctors. This time a CAT scan and an X-ray found the source of the woman’s mysterious symptoms. A rusty pin was lodged in her head. The head of the pin was outside the skull, and the shaft penetrated into her brain. Doctors performed surgery and successfully extracted the pin. Doctors expressed amazement that the woman “could live for so long a time with a rusty pin stuck in her brain.” After noting the position of the pin in her skull, they speculated that the pin had entered her skull sometime soon after birth and before her skull had hardened. Zhang, now fully recovered, said she “had no memory of being pierced by a pin in the head.”
Just like the rusty pin in that woman’s brain, negative thoughts, bad attitudes, and painful memories can lodge in our minds and cause chronic problems. Where we have the brainpower to solve complex problems, turn ideas into new opportunities and think our way to successful living, too often we don’t. According to Genevieve Knudtson in Farmer’s Wife,
“Each of us has a touch of genius. Great thoughts and profound ideas wend across our minds like clouds across a summer sky. Whereas most of us experience the flash of new and original thoughts without follow-up reflection, great minds nurture and polish these thought flashes. Thank God for men like Frost, Aristotle, Franklin and Thoreau who have redeemed our thoughts from mediocrity and made them immortal.”
I am generally pretty good at harnessing my thoughts for the good, yet in certain circumstances it can be really hard. Take my favourite place of recreation – the golf course. Some days hitting that little white ball seems easy and second nature, yet on other days – too many for my liking, that self-belief and confidence can ooze out of you like water from a leaky bucket. Before you know it you are questioning your basic ability and doubt where you actually have any. How can our self-belief be so fragile?
How can positive thoughts at times be so hard to find?
What and how we think becomes an ingrained pattern that has been developed throughout our entire life. We adopt beliefs, thoughts, and expectations from society, our family, friends, and the media, which may or may not be true, and may or may not help us reach our goals. Simply put, our thinking patterns and responses become a habit with which we navigate the world. So, starting to regulate what we think about and making a plan to improve our thinking habits is the first step to changing our life for the better.
In the middle of a wedding ceremony, a jewellery store manager exchanged rings with his soon-to-be spouse. As he slipped the ring onto his bride’s finger, he said, “With this ring—we guarantee a full refund if the customer is not completely satisfied.” His sales pitch was so deeply ingrained in his mind that the words came out automatically.
Whether we like it or not, the way we think is deeply embedded in our lives and drives our feelings and our actions. The results therefore, are totally dependent on the quality and substance of our thoughts.
Let’s take wisdom from some of the great thinkers and see how we can give direction to this powerful tool – our minds:
“Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values and your values become your destiny.” Mahatma Gandhi
“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and application of wise thought which counts.” Bob Proctor
“You could attach prices to thoughts. Some cost a lot, some a little. And how does one pay for thoughts? The answer is: with courage.” Ludwig Wittgenstein
“Character is the result of thought. Think high, and you will live high. Whether our lives shall be full and helpful, or cruel and hurtful, depends upon our thoughts.” Author Unknown
Some final questions to think about – What do I believe about myself? What do I believe about my future? Having answered these questions, are you happy with the answers? If not, ask yourself, “What beliefs do I want to change? What do I want to start believing about myself and my future?”
Remember, we have the power to change our lives by changing our thoughts!
Have a wonderful week
If you have any questions or feedback about “The Powerful Of Thoughts” please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I would love to hear from you.
Antony Jennings is an international trainer, consultant and motivational speaker based in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Antony writes this free weekly mentoring letter to support and encourage those who are serious about taking charge of their lives. You will find an archive of his letters at www.antonyjennings.comor www.zifundise.com