“Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” – John Wooden
I’m not a psychiatrist, nor have I done any scientific studies, but it seems like most of us humans are very similar. We have all these things in our lives that are great, but what we want to spend time thinking and talking about are all the things that are wrong. We complain about not being happy, but part of the reason is our obsession with everything in our lives that has the potential to make us unhappy.
The reality is that whatever we think and talk about eventually becomes part of what we believe about ourselves and the world. And our actions will reflect whatever we believe. So, when we focus on the things that are wrong or the things we aren’t good at or don’t have, we are essentially creating a self-fulfilling nightmare. In overly simple terms, if you really believe you’re a loser you’ll spend the rest of your life proving yourself right.
So change how you talk to yourself. Yeah right, you’re thinking – which is exactly the problem. If you don’t think you can change, you’re probably right. Maybe you need some help. One of the best things you can do is find some accountability partners. Maybe it’s somebody at work, maybe it’s somebody outside of work, maybe there’s some of both. Get together and agree that you’re not going to allow each other to focus on the negatives. And call each other on it – don’t let it slide. What we’re really talking about is creating new habits, and that requires correction when we fail.
Start with work. What’s good about your job or your business? What’s the most exciting opportunity you’re currently faced with? What do you like about going to work every day? Think about that, talk about that, meditate on that.
Think about the rest of your life. What are you passionate about? What is fun? What would you like to do with your time? Focus on those things.
Of course bad things are going to happen and barriers are going to arise. Life still isn’t easy. But when those things appear, it’s not time to complain or obsess about how terrible life is. It’s time to think about the opportunity you have to learn and grow. It’s time to focus on the things you can do, that do make you happy, that you can change. Your life will be as happy and fulfilling as you choose for it to be. Make the right choice.
Matt, as one with the scientific training in this area, can I say this is one of your best ever (so far at least) blogs to date. You are technically correct about “irrational beliefs” but have explained it in common language. The bottom line is that you get what you think about the most so stop thinking about what you don’t want and think more about the outcomes and behavior you do want. Accountability is the next big thing in management theory.
Thanks Chris. It seems to simple & obvious, yet we do it over and over. If we can change how we think we’ll change the world!
Thanks for sharing, Matt.
All I can say is AMEN!