Change Your Mindset, Change Your Life—Here's How
It’s not incompatible with scientific reality that your thoughts and attitudes hold tremendous power over your life. Let me tell you why: Nothing in your life will change if you don’t believe it will. That’s for certain. People have survived horrific atrocities, maintained hope in decades-long prison sentences, and held onto their sense of humanity even when their fellow men were suffering from genocide, all through the power of mindset.
A properly cultivated mind is an invaluable asset. It’s much more important than any set of resources you could accumulate from action alone. After all, anyone can network, learn, work, and acquire experience, but if they don’t have the unwavering vision of what they want to achieve in life and the resolve to get it, they’re better off saving their efforts. Believing, I have learned the hard way, is 90% of all of your battles.
The Power of Belief
Saying this is one thing, but demonstrating it can be more powerful, so let’s see how your beliefs can fundamentally change the course of your life. There’s a popular story that’s gone around the internet since it was shared by Trevor Moawad on the podcast show Impact Theory with Tom Bilyeu. It’s the story of a man who was raised by a single mother; he was flunking out of high school and struggling hard. He agreed to take the SATs to appease his mother, though he didn’t expect to wow anyone with his results. Months later, when he got his results, he was stunned to find out he received a 1480 out of 1600, a score that would place him among the brightest ever to take the test. His mother, who assumed he cheated, asked him about it, and he insisted that he didn't. In fact, he said he tried to cheat, but he couldn’t.
Suddenly, his life changed. Upon realizing that he was actually quite smart, he started attending all of his classes and ditching the crowd of friends who got him into trouble. When teachers and students noticed this change, they treated him differently, too. After graduating high school, he attended Wichita State and, after that, got into an Ivy League school. Eventually, he became a successful magazine entrepreneur. His whole life turned around because that test made him realize he was smart. As it turns out, he was one of 13 other people to receive the wrong SAT scores that year. He didn’t get a 1480. He got a 740, but because he believed he got a 1480, he started acting like it. Because he started acting like it, other people viewed and treated him differently.
Believing, I have learned the hard way, is 90% of all of your battles.
To be honest, I have no idea if this story is true or completely made up. It is, after all, an anecdotal story told by one person, and I have no receipts to provide that any of this happened. Nevertheless, it’s a helpful illustration of how altering your beliefs about yourself can change your life by changing your actions. It’s not just magically willing something to happen, it’s believing something enough to put a plan into action to make your goals and dreams come true.
A well-documented phenomenon in the medical industry is how patients with a positive mental state and the will to live tend to respond better to disease-related problems and therapy. We already know there is a direct link between the mental and the physical – just ask anyone diagnosed with IBS, an autoimmune disorder, or a severe skin condition like psoriasis. Severe stress and anxiety can trigger these conditions or cause worsening flare-ups. The same is true in reverse. In a relatively recent field of study known as psychoneuroimmunology, researchers are studying the relationship between the mind and the body as it relates to cancer. Using experiments such as meditation, biofeedback, and visualization, some doctors now believe that a positive outlook on their prognosis can directly affect cell function and be used to arrest cancer.
How To Get Started: Journaling and Positive Affirmations
The first step in utilizing the power of mindset is identifying what you want. Do you want to change career paths, become a bestselling author, get 100,000 followers on Instagram, or start a charity that helps countless people improve their lives? Think about it, identify it, and write it down. Focus on that singular idea obsessively. Develop tunnel vision, if you must.
If you’re struggling to identify what you want, I recommend you start by journaling. This will help you identify your true thoughts, feelings, and goals over time, especially if you don’t know what you want. This was a big barrier for me because I had been hiding my true desires and passions and burying away my talents because I feared I would fail at them. It was easier to tuck them away and never pursue them than it was to acknowledge them as things that I desired. Try to get specific, too. For this to work, you need to be honest with yourself. Don’t write in your journal like you’re scared someone will read it and judge you. Once you have identified your major goal or desire, you can start to take action.
Altering your beliefs about yourself can change your life by changing your actions.
Daily affirmations help your new mindset to sink in and get internalized. Affirmations are positive, uplifting words you repeat to yourself in an attempt to reprogram your brain. You can find positive affirmations in a range of niches on YouTube, which involves wearing headphones, closing your eyes, and repeating the words or phrases in the video. If you deal with insecurity, low self-esteem, or uncertainty, positive affirmations can help you overcome negative thinking patterns that cause you to doubt yourself. Someone who wants to be successful but struggles with imposter syndrome may repeat to themselves, “I am incredibly successful,” “People trust my opinion,” and “I am confident.” It might feel silly at first. You might cringe at yourself or wonder if this is all pointless until one day, when you finally internalize the words. Negativity breeds negativity, and the same can be said for positivity and optimism.
Use the power of visualization to identify what it is you want. Visualization is the practice of imagining what it is you want in the future. Also known as mental imagery, it’s a tool commonly used by athletes, artists, actors, and many other successful professionals. Athletes and other elite performers will imagine their performance in their minds to prepare themselves mentally, learn how to improve, and assess their weaknesses. It can help you identify your dream job, dream life, the place you want to live, and what you would rather spend your time doing.
You can practice visualization by sitting in a quiet room, closing your eyes, and imagining a vivid scenario of what you want. Let’s take the example of your dream job. You want to get as engaged as much as possible by using all five of your senses – sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste. You can do this by playing out an entire scene in your head, imagining what a day at your dream job would be like.
You may be asking, "What’s the point of all this?" YouTuber Lana Blakely made a beautiful video discussing how she has used visualization as a tool to help her achieve her dream life in three years. She discusses four purposes behind the practice: identifying your true desires, motivation to pursue your dreams, increased awareness of opportunities, and how to plan backward. The first three are straightforward, but the last one warrants some elaboration.
Once you’re able to visualize an outcome, you can design a mental roadmap to get to that point.
Blakely explains that once she is able to visualize an outcome, she can design a mental roadmap to get to that point. I inadvertently used this same trick when I decided I wanted to study abroad in Australia. I knew it was what I wanted and that I had to make it happen somehow, and I could envision myself at the endpoint. From there, I worked backward, figuring out all the steps between where I currently was and what would lead me to Australia. For instance, I would need to get accepted into an Australian study abroad program. To do that, I needed to apply. To apply, I needed to figure out what classes I could take that would transfer back to my school, and I had to get those classes approved. I also needed a lot of extra money. In order to get that, I would need to take extra shifts at work and take out loans. I think you get the picture. You might not know just how many steps in the process there are, but this strategy can help you by providing you with a starting point.
An extension of visualization is the vision board. You can build a vision board if you like to see things more tangibly. It’s a physical representation of your goals and intentions, typically for the year. This should be a fun and therapeutic practice. Many people use a large poster board, but you can do this in a notebook or whatever works for you. After you have an idea of your intentions and goals for the year, cut out pictures from magazines or print out pictures online that represent these achievements. People usually have a vision board that represents all different aspects of their life like career, education, love life, socialization, etc., but you can also create separate vision boards for each one.
You can also include certain words and phrases on your vision board, but try not to make it too wordy. Once you’ve assembled everything to your liking, like a collage art piece, hang it on your wall or somewhere you will look at it every day. In sight, in mind, is the idea. The more you look at your vision board, the more subliminal messaging you will get to pursue these goals. If you later decide you want to take things off or add things, you can, but remember that just because you don’t achieve something in the immediate future doesn’t mean it’s not worth putting your intention into. Some goals take longer to come into being because they take years of continual hard work leading up to that moment. That doesn’t make visualizing that outcome a waste of time. It wasn’t until I started visualizing myself being a writer that I was able to become one.
To achieve your dream life, you must start believing you can. Feel the power of your beliefs and your intentions and appreciate the power of subliminal messaging and symbolism. Remember, believing you will do something only works if you follow your affirmations, journaling, and vision boards with action. Hoping and daydreaming about something won’t make it happen – but it can inspire and motivate you to take all the necessary steps that will.
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