Self Improvement Requires Tenacity

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One thing I’ve learned about self improvement is that you can’t change your life by reading a book, joining a gym, or attending a personal growth seminar. The cold, hard truth is that we are creatures of habit, years of conditioning, and our environment, and that our natural tendency is to continue the habits, thoughts, and reactions we’ve become accustomed to — even if they’re self defeating or counterproductive.

Although most people don’t salivate at the sound of a bell, many of us are like Pavlovian dogs, responding automatically to external stimuli and not really taking the time to adjust our conditioned responses and reflect on our behavioral patterns.

There is good news in all this though — at least for people who are willing to make a sustained effort to improve themselves and their lives. It’s not easy, but it IS worth it.

One of my favorite quotes is by the Russ Harris, the author of the book “The Confidence Gap.” I think if you can accept this truth and work with it, then personal growth, empowerment, and greater success is almost inevitable. I wrote this quote on an index card and reflect on it several times a week:

“We can choose the pain of stagnation, or we can choose the pain of growth. There is no such thing as a pain-free life.”

Another powerful saying I wrote down as a reminder has been attributed to Liam Linisong:

“A year from now, what will you wish you had done today?”

Here’s a slightly different twist on the same theme — one that’s worth mentioning:

“Do something today that your future self will thank you for!”

One additional motivational quote I’d like to add is this one, which has been attributed to American pastor Robert Schuller:

“What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?”

All these motivational quotes can literally be life changing if you reinforce them on a daily basis and resolve to approach life in a proactive rather than reactive way.

Since the fear of failure is one of the biggest enemies of success, that quote can be a powerful way to circumvent — at least for a moment– the debilitating effects of fear.

The actress Bette Davis once said “Old age ain’t no place for sissies!” While that may be especially true for the challenges of aging physically, I think it also applies to life, in general.

Whether you adopt and internalize the motto “No pain, no gain” or “Only the strong survive,” you can begin to make quantum leaps in life when you accept personal responsibility and create an action plan to rise above whatever plateau you’re stuck on.

Something to consider:

In all likelihood, it’s your own limiting, subconscious beliefs that are blocking the money, success and personal breakthroughs you want, need and deserve.

The good news is…

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Thanks for tuning in.

Your feedback is welcome!

Wishing you all the best!

–Joel

*PS.: This blog contains links to select products and services for which I am a compensated affiliate.

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The Meaning of Life

background-1517622_640Since time immemorial, philosophers, theologians, and songwriters have been providing truth seekers with hints into the meaning of life. Meaning and “truth” is subjective, of course, so it’s rarely a topic everyone will agree on.

You could easily fill a library with all the volumes of books that have delved into the mysteries of life, but sometimes the simplest answers are the most satisfying.

One song lyric that resonates with me was written by James Taylor in the mid 1970s. “The secret to life is to enjoy the passage of time.” To some people, that might seem overly simplistic, but to me, it conveys a world of meaning.

Acquiring the ability to enjoy the passage of time requires a sense of commitment, a peaceful environment, and the ability to quiet your thoughts. However, when you get in the habit of practicing present moment awareness and feelings of appreciation (gratitude), then sometimes the pieces of the puzzle seem to fall into place.

For many people, I believe the search for meaning and happiness  is elusive because every time they stumble upon a grain of truth — or a silo full of it — they think “It can’t be that simple!”

For those with a more religious or spiritual take on life, the “secret” to inner peace and meaning may be as simple as the saying “Let go and let God.”

I believe that simple truth can be laden with profound meaning, you just have to be willing to give it a chance.

Stay tuned to this blog for more insights, observations, and simple truths.

BTW… It’s good to be a seeker of truth, but don’t look too hard. The answers are hiding in plain sight!

Thanks for checking out my latest thoughts.

I wish you peace and light.

— Joel

 

 

 

 

Tips For Taking Charge of Your Life

girl-2573111_640Problems, adversity, and frustrations can sometimes (but not always) be “blessings in disguise.” Frustrations, mistakes, defeats, and setbacks can inspire you to mentally step back, reassess your situation, regroup, and devise a plan to make positive improvements and changes in your life.

Here are two things that I believe everyone needs to remind themselves of every day — if not every minute:

  • Personal responsibility: “I am responsible for the direction of my life,  the choices I make, the thoughts I think, the actions I take, the words I speak, and the path on which I walk in life. The future condition and quality of my life rests firmly on my shoulders and I’m not going to relinquish that control to anyone else. I’m also not going to waste time, energy, and opportunities by blaming someone else for my frustrations or problems.”
  • Continual forks in the road: Every moment in your life in a crossroads — an opportunity to change your direction, make new and different decisions, solve problems, break through barriers, and discover opportunities. As Deepak Chopra states in his book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, “You and I are essentially infinite choice-makers. In every moment of our existence, we are in that field of all possibilities where we have access to an infinity of choices.”

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Another philosophy that I find inspiring is that of Dr. Wayne Dyer (1940-2015), author of life-changing books like Your Erroneous Zones, The Power of Intention, You’ll See it When You Believe It, Your Sacred Self, and dozens of others.

One of his inspirational quotes that I frequently reflect on is “You don’t get what you want, you get what your are!”

What does that mean?

Well, here’s my interpretation of those wise words:

  • You get out of life what you put into it.
  • Our happiness, success, and the impact we have on the world is the result of the thoughts we cultivate, the personal values we live by, and the habits we develop. As creatures of habit, our individual and cumulative habits are what determine or destiny and shape our reality.
  • Our outer world is a reflection of our inner world — our “inner world” meaning our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, mental images, thought patterns, and the way we communicate with ourselves (both silently and out loud).

So in order to take charge of our lives and not allow external forces and influences to dictate the the content and quality of our lives, we need to be the “master of our fates and captains of our soul.”

In the poem Invictus, English poet William Ernest Henley (1849–1903) wrote those memorable words in the form of a powerful affirmation:

“I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.”

Not a bad mantra to remember and repeat to yourself several times a day, every day!

I hope you’ve found this blog post to be both inspiring and thought-provoking.

Feel free to follow (subscribe to), share, or comment on this blog.

Peace and best wishes!

–Joel

 

 

How to Clear Your Mind of Negative Thoughts

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Everyone has negative thoughts from time to time, but some people battle them on an almost constant basis. If you happen to be in the second category (or anywhere near it) it’s probably necessary to seek out the help of a competent mental health professional. Sometimes you just need outside help to understand where all your negativity is coming from and how to curtail it.

My experience in controlling negative thoughts and cultivating positive ones is based purely on self reflection, trial and error, and reading inspirational books that helped fuel my optimism, self belief, resourcefulness, and positivity.

Thought Patterns

Perhaps the first step to improving the quality of your thoughts is to realize that thoughts are the building blocks of your life and that it’s possible to control them. Whether your thoughts tend to be positive or negative (construction or destructive) depends on how you perceive yourself, how you tend to react to people and situations in your environment, and the thought habits you’ve developed over time.

Thoughts that you think repeatedly tend to reinforce themselves and become stronger. That, of course, can work for you or against you. Becoming consciously aware of how you communicate with yourself, both out loud and silently, is another key step to overcoming negative thinking and becoming a more positive person.

Why Think Positive Thoughts?

Question: What are the benefits of becoming a more positive person? That’s a good question to ask yourself before proceeding any further. What’s in it for you?

The benefits are innumerable and are often life changing! In a nutshell, improving the quality of your thoughts can drastically improve your relationship with yourself and others. It can also help you become a more productive, effective, and organized human being. If you focus on positive thoughts every day, several times a day, your new thought patterns will boost your chances for attaining more happiness, financial success, inner peace, self acceptance, and love.

Becoming a more positive person is worthy of your time and continued effort.

While there is no panacea (that I know of) for instantly getting rid of negative thoughts and consistently replacing them with happy thoughts, here are a few suggestions, ideas, and personal development resources that I hope you’ll find helpful:

  • Practicing gratitude, which is also known as “counting your blessings,” can be a very effective way to lift your state of mind, improve your mood, and give yourself a heightening sense of well-being. There are a lot of books, free articles, and inspirational videos online that can provide you with specific techniques for listing and dwelling on things in your life to be thankful for and appreciative of.
  • Positive affirmations are statements you can write, say, listen to, or read that help make you feel more confident, optimistic, determined, talented, comforted, peaceful, loved, or motivated. (Note: Once you become aware of how you’re talking to and about yourself, you can begin replacing negative statements about yourself with positive ones. When it comes to self esteem and happiness, one of the worst things people do is to put themselves down and berate themselves — both mentally and when talking to others.)
  • Give yourself credit when credit is due! When you accomplish something, handle a situation effectively, create something worthwhile, help another human being in need, or make progress in some area of your life, you deserve to recognize that in your own mind. You might even want to reward yourself in some way or, at least, acknowledge and congratulate yourself in a written journal.
  • Identify and eliminate self-defeating beliefs and negative habits. In some cases, you may be holding yourself back in life by believing negative things about yourself which are either untrue or no longer true. If you take an inventory of all your self–imposed limitations and try to shine an objective light on them, you might be surprised at how many of them have no basis in truth or reality.
  • Seek support from others: To the extent possible, spend time with supportive and nurturing friends, family, and “significant others” who make you feel loved, appreciated, and special. It’s nourishment for your soul and self esteem.
  • Read inspiring books by Dale Carnegie, Napoleon Hill, Dr. Wayne Dyer, Jack Canfield, Esther and Jerry Hicks, Tony Robbins, Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle, Joseph Murphy, Robert Collier, Debbie Ford, Russ Harris, Og Mandino, Robert Holden, Wallace D. Wattles, Charles F. Haanel, Maxwell Maltz, and many others. There is no shortage of worthwhile, inspirational books, and coaching programs that can help you became a more positive, joyful, motivated, accomplished, focused, and peaceful person. For many people, the Bible is a source of inspiration and renewal. My favorite biblical quote is “Ask, and it will be given you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened for you.”
  • Exercise: If your doctor says it’s okay, then get yourself started on a regular exercise program — preferably with a friend or partner (You’ll stand a greater chance of sticking with it if you have someone who will hold you accountable… and vice versa!) Exercise is a proven way to reduce stress, clear your mind, infuse yourself with positive energy, and give yourself a feeling of having more control over your life.
  • Meditation and prayer: We all have a connection to a a life force — a source of energy, creativity, and love — that’s much bigger and more powerful than our individual selves. The famous “Serenity Prayer” written by American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1892–1971) is an excellent one to reflect on, every now and then: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

Note: These suggestions and ideas are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to realizing your potential and overcoming negativity. If you want to take concrete action to achieve personal transformation, then consider a six-week coaching program offered by three leaders in the science of success and mental mastery.*

Allowing negative thoughts to wither away through disuse and redirected attention can help clear the way for positive thoughts to thrive. Being positive, happy, and optimistic is your natural state of being. The challenge is to eliminate or reduce all the mental clutter and “baggage” that is standing in the way of realizing your potential and enjoying life more.

When you find a way to feel good about yourself and your prospects in life, you instantly become more attractive and likeable to other people. By radiating genuine enthusiasm and positive energy, people are often drawn to you and, in many cases, are inspired to help you, hire you, befriend you, cooperate with you, follow your lead, encourage you, and/or collaborate with you.

So how do you get rid of unwanted thoughts and cultivate positive, life-affirming, motivating thoughts?

The short answer is: It’s a process and it requires a strong sense of personal commitment and follow-through.

I’m reminded of an old joke (or maybe it’s a riddle) you may have heard before :

“How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb?”

The answer is “Just one, but the light bulb really has to want to change!”

Thanks for checking out my blog. Stay tuned for more thoughts, reflections, and observations on life in coming weeks!

–Joel

F.Y.I.: This blog features links to self-improvement books, online courses, and  other educational materials for which I am a compensated affiliate.

Things to Do For Good Luck

I believe that “luck” is just a concept that has little or no basis in reality. I will admit that some people do seem to be in the right place at the right time, but I don’t think they’re in possession of some magical quality that attracts good fortune.

In all probability, they were the fortunate beneficiary of random circumstances that worked in their favor. But isn’t that what’s commonly referred to as “good luck?” Hmm. Well, I suppose… but the word “luck” is just a label that’s rooted in superstition, wishful thinking, and childhood fantasies. When we’re kids, we’re told that different objects have the power to bring us good luck: a shiny penny, a four-leaf clover, or a rabbit’s foot. Magic, secret places, and buried treasure are favorite story elements in books and movies for children. Mystical ideas and possibilities like that helped fuel our imaginations and provide a glimpse into an alternate reality where anything is possible.

Being lucky or learning how to attract luck are exciting ideas! We all want to receive as much good fortune in life as we possibly can. If it’s your objective to increase the “magnetic power” you have over the things you want, then you’re probably on the right track. It’s doable, but it all begins with your thoughts, emotions, and inner drive. By cultivating optimism, faith, enthusiasm, charisma, productive habits, self discipline, a goal orientation, focused thinking, a desire for continual self improvement, and a strong belief in yourself, it’s almost impossible to fail.

Many people who tend to attract beneficial circumstances into their lives have adopted an attitude that enables them to believe in themselves and keep trying until they create the things that are important to them, whether that involves love, money, career advancement, fame, meaningful work, financial security, a satisfying social life, dynamic confidence, musical talent, technical skills, vibrant health, or a beautiful home.

How to Attract Good Luck (There’s that word, again!)

One of my favorite self-improvement/inspirational authors and speakers was Dr. Wayne Dyer. The two philosophies of his that resonated the most with me are the following:

  • When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
  • You don’t get what you want, you get what you are!

The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle also hit the nail on the head when he said “Excellence is not an act, it is a habit!”

In a nutshell: The things you can do to change your “luck” or improve your luck are going to involve changing your thoughts, your attitudes, the way you communicate with yourself and others, and your daily habits.

One of the first and most important steps you can take to gain control over your life is to clarify your personal values and resolve to live by them. Russ Harris, the author of The Confidence Gap and The Happiness Trap provides a free set of worksheets on his website to help guide you through the process of clarifying and living your values.

To wrap up this topic for now, I’d say that good luck may appear to happen — but for the most part, it’s an illusion.

With very few exceptions, people became an “overnight success” only after years of working, practicing, persisting, studying, cultivating relationships, believing in themselves, practicing gratitude, and visualizing success.

In nine out of ten cases, successful people make their own luck. As far as the remaining one out of ten lucky people, we can only surmise how their good fortune came into being. Even though there may be a simple cause/effect relationship, their success seems like serendipity, happenstance, or just plain good luck. If you want to take control of your life, however, the best strategy for creating wealth, achieving success, and attracting love is to develop a plan, act as if you can’t fail, and persist until you succeed. Otherwise, you’re just leaving the possibilities of your life to chance.

How to Get Good Luck

It’s interesting that there are a lot of people interested in the topic of “luck.” The whole concept of luck is shrouded in mystery. Is luck an actual thing or can all events be explained by the law of cause and effect? In other words, does everything happen for a reason or do we live in a universe that is impacted by random events and serendipitous experiences? Seems like I have a lot more questions than answers! Truth be told: I have yet to offer any answers!

For the most part, I think luck is an illusion — maybe it’s completely an illusion! I think the first step to getting good luck or getting rid of bad luck is to examine your own thought patterns, self image, and expectations. Our thoughts and beliefs are tremendously powerful forces in our own lives, and we all tend to mold and shape the content and texture of our own experiences. Much of what happens in our lives is based on self fulfilling prophesies.

What’s fascinating and exciting about life is that, at any moment in time, we all have an infinite number of actions, thoughts, and directions from which to choose. One of the biggest illusions in life is the idea that “What you see is what you get!” In reality, there are better results you can produce and different real-life scenarios you can create if you only look beyond the illusion of what you see, what’s in your line of vision.

How to Improve Your Life

Most people have a natural desire to better themselves in one way or another. Some might say that we have been infused with a God-given drive to realize our potential, experience personal growth, and to continually discover more of what life has to offer.

Many of us are also conditioned by our parents, friends, and society to attract a mate, get married, advance in our careers, have kids, enjoy family vacations, send your kids to college, and create financial abundance for yourself so you can retire in comfort.

Although there are exceptions, most of the items on that list happen as the result of setting specific goals, pursuing them on a consistent basis, making plans, refining those plans, believing in yourself, and taking calculated, well-thought-out risks.

Good things do occasionally occur in our lives by happenstance and serendipity, but you can’t depend on that or base your life on the expectation of good luck. Good luck does happen, but it’s often the direct or indirect result of the following things:

  • a positive attitude
  • hard work
  • putting yourself out there
  • networking
  • cultivating relationships with people who have the ability to help you
  • continually looking for ways to be stronger, smarter, and more effective in everything (important) that you do

While it’s true that you can’t always get what you want, persistence, focused thinking, and self believe are guaranteed to help you get more of what you want — and sometimes, exactly what you want.