My 5-year-old was balancing on one foot on the edge of the bed frame last night. She fell off and immediately said, “watch, I’ll do it better next time.” (And she did).
Being the ever-conscious parent that I am, I tried to seize the moment for a “life lesson.” I told her that she was right, with anything she wanted to do she would be become better at it with practice.
For example, if she practiced being nice, it would become easier to be nice. (A concept that needs practicing when it comes to her 2-year-old brother).
As I made the bed, I started thinking about how true this was. And it doesn’t just apply to gymnastics and spelling and things of the sort. It applies to being nice, and to treating people right, and to developing positive self-talk.
Our physical body gets better at things as we practice them, as does our mind. It’s called developing habits. It reminds me of a story Denis Waitley tells about his work with world class athletes.
This won’t be a perfect telling of the story, but Denis talks about conducting tests where they ask the athletes to visualize running the race they are training for. When they monitor the athlete’s body during the visualization, they find that the same muscles fire as do when they are actually running the race.
The body is so conditioned by practice that the race can be run in the mind. The body reacts automatically.
And so does the mind. If trained properly. Let’s look at a simple example. Someone cuts you off in traffic. You react to this without thinking — by laying on the horn, throwing up your middle finger, cursing the person who dared to interfere with your drive.
Try to stop yourself from this automatic reaction. Instead, say “wow, he must be having a hard day,” or “she must be late, I’ve been there,” or “I hope nothing’s wrong.”
Instead of reacting to the jerk who cut you off, react to the person who’s somehow struggling that day. Before long you’ll notice that you won’t have to make a conscious effort to lay off the horn. Your automatic reaction will be one of compassion rather than anger.
You will find, with practice, that you can change your entire outlook on life. At first it’s hard. You have to constantly push the negative aside and force yourself to think positive. Oftentimes you don’t even believe what you’re thinking. That’s okay. It will come.
I love music. I used to force myself to sing happy Mary Poppins-like songs when something was bringing me down. Now there are times that I realize I’m in the middle of one of those songs without having given it any thought.
With practice, positive thinking and productive habits become as easy as tying your shoe. First, exercise your mind and train it to develop new ways of reacting. You will find that new habits emerge. And, quicker than you think, personal and financial success will become a way of life rather than a daily struggle.
JENNIFER HERNDON works from home with her kids. She has been enjoying the time freedom and financial rewards of working from home for over 11 years. Jennifer’s passion is empowering you to achieve success through a positive mindset and consistent action.
Get weekly exercises for your mind with Jim Rohn’s One Year Success Plan, the most complete and achievable personal development plan ever. Develop simple habits for a successful business with your free copy of Jennifer’s Seven Simple Success Steps mini-course.