Your thoughts define your life
I have spent my entire life studying brain function and no I am not a neurosurgeon or a Psychiatrist and I certainly don’t have the right to preach about how anyone should or should not live their life.
However, over the years I have spent a great deal of thought (no pun intended) on this subject – how our thoughts ultimately define our life. I’ve written a great deal about it, given keynotes and seminars on it and read dozens of books about it – and why – I believe it is the single biggest contributor to all of life’s circumstances – happiness, fear, success, doubt, wealth, poverty, joy, loneliness, regret, inner peace – I could go on listing every emotion, life circumstance and career, relationship and business circumstance, but I will try and make my simple point in as few words to follow as possible.
For those of you with little time or patience I’ll summarize this article in advance; thoughts repeated contribute to beliefs, beliefs contribute to attitudes and mindsets, these over time create habits (mental, emotional and physical), your habits are your rationales for choices and decisions, these contribute to actions and behavior and these equal circumstances. So, now you can move on to the next item on your To-Do list OR, you can keep reading and learn why you just needed the summary and not the details. Gotcha!
The human brain is the most amazing organ that has ever existed. You don’t have to be an expert on brain physiology to know a few of the basics. It controls 100% of everything you do twenty-fours a day 365 days a year until you take your final breath. Don’t believe me? Where is your brain on and off switch?
It doesn’t matter whether you are sleeping, doing yoga, meditating or chilling – it is doing stuff in you at the rate of three trillion chemical reactions every second. Enough of the biology.
When you have a thought, any thought, good, bad, memory, positive, negative – whatever – your brain processes this and then decides is this a new thought or one similar to one you have had in the past? It decides and then puts it into what I call a Brian folder for future reference.
So, let’s say you have a worry thought about you’re an upcoming health procedure. Your brain asks itself – “is this a new thought? Don’t know, let’s check the worry folder. OK, this is not a new one so let’s move this to the everyday thoughts folder.” See where this is going? Not yet? OK, so you are in the doctor’s office and a new worry thought enters your mind. Your brain says, “This sounds familiar. Yep, it’s in the everyday folder. Maybe we should move this to the every hour folder.”
Once this stuff (thoughts) gets into the every hour folder in your brain, the folder is now in control of what you think hour to hour. And once it’s in control, it is in control of everything related to it – minute to minute – second to second. Stress. Fear. What if. Why me. Why now. Etc. And once these folders take over, well, their goal is to make life easy for themselves, so they keep the every hour folder handy so they can react easier, sooner and more frequently without your mental intervention.
Are we there yet?
So – you have a thought. Then you have it again. And again. And sooner rather than later this thought becomes easier to have the more you have it. And the easier it is, the more often you will now have it even if it wasn’t something you were thinking about or had planned to think about. You just start thinking it.
Next step – this continued thought pattern now begins to impact beliefs, values, opinions, interpretations, feelings, etc.
Next step – you now start to form attitudes that are consistent with these thought patterns or mindsets. For example – if you are a procrastinator it becomes easier and easier to procrastinate the more you do it and why? I just told you. Re-read the previous few paragraphs.
Once these attitudes are formed the next step is to create habits – mental, emotional, physical etc. that reinforce these mental states or are not in conflict with the thought patterns that have developed.
Next step – decisions, actions etc. are now controlled by this process as you are now in what I call – cruised control or auto-pilot.
The last step is that we tend to justify outcomes or results whether successful or unsuccessful, desired or undesired or planned or unplanned for that are caused by the previous choices, decisions, and actions we made.
Game over. You are now a hostage of your thoughts and all they entail.
Keep in mind I am not implying that the only thoughts in this process are all negative ones. This process also works the same for positive steps, confusion, desire, goals and every other thought we can have about anything and everything.
And, this is the answer to change. If you want something in your life to change, be better, be different – anything – you must go back to the beginning and begin the process again, but this time by having different thoughts – the ones you want or need to create the new circumstances you desire.
Your thoughts define your life.