Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The One Simple Habit That Changed My Life

Sometimes I look back at my life over the past few years, and feel astonished all over again at how my life has changed. Just a few short years ago, I was in debt, tired and frustrated. I was completely ordinary, and knew that I was capable of so much more…

Now, I live in a different country, experiencing a completely different way of life, feel passionate and inspired about my life, have just finished writing two books in the last 9 months, started a business, and getting ready to build a new house - paid for with cash.

I ask myself: What is the number one piece of advice that I could give to others who might be in the same position I was in a few years ago? 

Of course, there were lots of choices and changes of habit that led to where I am today, but there is one thing I changed that stands out above all others. 

The most important thing requires no equipment, no special skills, no university degree…

It requires only a commitment to changing the way you think.

It is this: Start working towards what you DO want, and quit fighting what you DON’T want. 

So many of us expend our energies focused on what we don’t want/don’t like, little realizing that what we resist persists. The more we fight it, the stronger it becomes – we’re like the out-classed sparring partner of a champion boxer. Every round we fight him, only allows him to hone his skills further and brings him one step closer to another victory…

Meanwhile, we are left discouraged and drained of energy.

Of course, most of the struggling and resisting happens inside our own head…but it drains and depletes us just as surely as a physical battle.

We don’t want to go to work. We don’t want to be in debt. We don’t like our child’s untidiness. We hate the way we look….On and on it goes. And the more we focus on what we DON’T want the more of it we seem to get!

Quit wasting your precious energy on fighting all the things you don’t like about your life. Instead, redirect that energy in a positive direction, by working towards what you DO want in your life.

Have you ever read an inspiring book or been to a seminar and got all excited and motivated? You discover the importance of setting goals and saying positive affirmations - and so you set some goals. You write down some affirmations…and then you went right back to the job of worrying about how to pay that phone bill due next week. Or worrying over the mortgage, children, parents, work – the list of potential worries is endless. 

Over the course of the day you spent hours and hours replaying the same old worries, the same old “poor me” stories…. Oh, but you spent 5 minutes this morning reading your goal and saying your affirmation!

After a while, you got discouraged. You are no closer to your goals after all! Your affirmations “didn’t work”, after all! 

Of course they didn’t. Five minutes of positive affirmations are still no match for 12 hours of negative thinking/complaining/worrying/talking about our troubles.

When I learned this lesson I was at a really low point. I was way down the proverbial rabbit hole. Everywhere I looked there was darkness and doom and gloom.

It began when I found out about all the crap in the food we eat. Preservatives and neurotoxins and carcinogens, they’re all there. But of course, my curiosity didn’t stop there. Oh, no! I had to keep digging. I found out about systemic cover-ups and massive fraud and deception going on in the world, the likes of which kept me up at night. I had to tell people about it!! I had to know more! 

Eventually it began to take its toll on me. I was fearful and stressed, I worried about the future – how would I protect my children from such widespread injustice and false paradigms? I was pregnant with my third child at the time and I was close to a nervous breakdown, when I went to an energy healer, who really helped to calm and re-balance my energy. 

I decided then, for the sake of my sanity, that I had to turn away from the dark side of what I had learned and redirect that knowledge into positive directions. I wanted to see the world as a beautiful place, again.

I shut down my facebook account, stopped trawling the internet, and stopped watching the news.

 Instead, I listened to music and went for walks. I began to feel more peaceful and hopeful.

Rather than focusing on all the things I must avoid, I simply turned my focus to being healthy and whole and sharing that well-being with others.

Then slowly, almost imperceptibly at first, the most amazing change began to take place. I began to encounter positive, uplifting people. I began to have experiences where I was able to see that the world was indeed, still a beautiful place. (I may have been having these same encounters and experiences before, but they didn’t register with me, because I was busy focusing on what a big, bad world it is…)

We became more pro-active and positive, and focused on what we could change. Instead of worrying about debt, as we’d done ever since buying a house and getting a mortgage, we took steps to become free of debt. For us, that meant selling our home and moving to a new country, where we now work flexible hours from home, spend a lot of time with our children and with extended family.

But I know we would never have made those choices had we been concentrating on what we didn’t want/like. 

Only by focusing on what we wanted (to be debt-free, to spend more time with our children) were we able to have the courage and the motivation to push past the fear and the “what-if” scenarios, and “just do it”.

I am so glad we did. 

Changing our focus takes discipline and commitment – I won’t lie. Just like that morning cup of coffee, our thoughts are often habitual, too. We “think” them without thinking, if that makes sense. They’re like a comfortable, well-worn path that requires little effort to travel down. 

In the beginning, it takes a concerted effort to carve out a new trail in the opposite direction. It also takes vigilance, to redirect the negative thoughts as soon as they enter our consciousness.

But over time, the new habits become ingrained and it simply becomes our default way of thinking.
Learning to focus on what you DO want moves you from being a helpless victim to being a pro-active force to be reckoned with. It can be applied to any area of your life – relationships, career, money, children, health…

For example:

You “hate” the way you look and wish you didn’t look so fat on those jeans. Thoughts like this are dragging you down and making you feel even more rotten. 

What if you changed that thought to: I want to be fit and healthy and wear Size 10 jeans - what do I need to DO, in order to achieve that?

 I bet you sat up a little straighter, just reading that! You have suddenly gone from pitiful victim “trapped” inside a body you hate, to a powerful proactive person taking charge of her body and her health. 

But the choice to be positive and proactive doesn’t stop there. You have to keep making that choice every day, perhaps many times a day. 

“I want to be fit and healthy and wear Size 10 jeans” is a lot more motivating and DO-able than “I wish I didn’t look so fat in these jeans”, which is just downright depressing. Thinking positive thoughts will get you up and moving toward your goal, while depressing thoughts will probably just make you want to sit on the couch and eat a bag of crisps.

We master our lives, our finances, our relationships, our health…by first learning to master the mind.

This is the most powerful, most life-changing piece of advice I have to offer. 

But it will make no difference to your life whatsoever, by simply reading about it. 

You need to actually choose it, practice it, do it…in order for anything to change.

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