The biggest threat to self-developers is lacking the energy to reach their goals. This can happen in three main ways: through physical tiredness; mental exhaustion; or emotional and spiritual fatigue. These three energy drains can be restored with three kinds of energy source, what we can call “super-energy”.
A programme of regular exercise and aerobic fitness creates the physical energy necessary to see us through to our goals. Aerobic exercise is any exercise which is done “with air”. It includes walking, ski-ing, running, jogging, rowing, and physical lovemaking. The benefit of aerobic exercise is that it sends messages to the brain that we need more blood. The body responds by increasing the amount of blood in circulation, ups the level of red blood cells, haemoglobin and plasma and creates masses of additional blood capillaries. The result is more energy and vitality to do what we want.
Aerobic exercise can have beneficial effects on all parts of the body:
on the lungs. Aerobic exercise draws replenishing oxygen into the capillaries of the lungs and helps to eliminate waste
on the heart. A healthy heart beats less per minute than an unhealthy heart. This means that it has less work to do and so is more efficient.
on the brain. 40% of our blood supply goes to the brain and feeds it oxygen. The more blood we produce as a result of aerobic fitness, the more productive are our brains.
on the muscles. The muscles become leaner, finer and longer. When they are strong, they also act as mini-pumps for the heart.
other effects. Other effects of aerobic fitness are that the digestive system is massaged and cleansed; we sleep better; and we feel psychologically better.
Deep breathing is essential in creating a healthy bloodstream, the foundation of all good health. As well as filling you with fresh air, deep abdominal breathing relaxes the solar plexus, the source of much of our tension, and internally massages the stomach muscles. It also activates the lymph system to oxygenate each cell of your body and remove waste.
Breathing is life. When we think of life, we think of animation and the Latin root for animation, “anima”, means both “breath” and “soul”. Breathing is the soul of life. Yet many people do not breath properly. They breath in shallow bursts, erratically and only with the lungs. The result is that they do not attain a state of relaxation or full energy.
There are two keys to deep breathing:
exhale all the air from your body before you breath in
inhale using your abdominal muscles. As you fill your abdomen with air, your lungs also expand and gradually you fill with air up to your throat.
Aswell as filling you with fresh air, abdominal breathing relaxes the solar plexus, the source of much of our tension, and internally massages the stomach muscles.
The quality, quantity and type of food you eat makes a significant difference to your health and fitness and so to your energy levels. Put simply, you are what you eat. A number of dietary principles have been established for years as being the basis of good health. These include…
Eating fresh food
Eating a varied diet
Eating plenty of water-rich foods
Listening to what your body needs.
The brain needs to be well-nourished to provide all the energy it is capable of. Foods that are good for the brain include: oils from fish such as mackerel and salmon; carrots which contain vitamin A, good for scavenging up free radicals that can attack the brain; vitamin B1, found in whole meal bread, vegetables and cereals, which helps burn up the carbohydrates which provide the brain with its energy; iron in liver, eggs and leafy vegetables which assists in bringing oxygen to the brain; and linoleum aciz, part of the make-up of brain membranes, which is found in polyunsaturated fats
To be mentally fit, we need to be free of some of the chains that shackle us to erroneous and unhelpful beliefs. These include the “not…enough” beliefs such as, “I’m not clever enough” or “I’m not pretty enough” or “I’m not brave enough”. Other mentally limiting chains include believing what others tell us we can and can’t do, accepting that things won’t change, and believing that change requires impossibly difficult demands on us. When you free yourself of the mental chains that come from others, you break out of the mental limitations that stunt your growth.
Earl Nightingale tells the story of the farmer who, early in the growing season, found a one-gallon jug beside his field of pumpkins and, for no particular reason, poked a small pumpkin into the jug without damaging the vine. Later when the pumpkins were full grown and were being picked and stacked, he came across the jug again, this time completely filled with the pumpkin he’d poked inside. The pumpkin had filled the jug completely, and had stopped growing; it was the size and shape of the jug. Earl realised that, just like the pumpkin in the jug, we often stop growing by accepting the chains of our past. If we wind up in spaces too small, it’s because we make the decision not to grow any more. We poke ourselves into a small space. However, just as we have the power to limit our growth, we also have the power to break through the limitations and become all we can be.
When you set yourself up to achieve big goals, it is inevitable that you will meet setbacks at some point through rejections, early failures and frustration at what appears to be a hopeless task. But it is how you deal with setbacks that determines how long it will be before you are back on course. Don’t be discouraged. Learn something from every setback. Find some smaller successes instead. Recognise that adversity builds mental muscles.
Worry arises when we start to let doubts creep in about what could happen to us if things go wrong and is a close friend of fear. To free yourself of mental worries, turn worry inside out by thinking about the best that could happen not the worst. Take things one step at a time by living in day-tight compartments. And, whenever you have fears, remember that FEAR is a mnemonic for False Evidence Appearing Real.
In “The Habits of Highly Effective People”, Stephen Covey tells a story written by Arthur Gordon called “The Turn of the Tide”.
In it, Gordon recalls a time when he was overcome by negativism and worry. In the end, he went to see a physician who told him to spend the following day in the place where he had been happiest as a child. Then he gave him four prescriptions in sealed envelopes, to be opened at 9, 12, 3 and 6 o’clock the next day.
Gordon duly went back to his favourite retreat beside the sea. At 9 o’clock, he opened the first prescription. It read: “Listen carefully.” Gordon sat back and did as instructed. For the rest of the morning he tuned in to the sounds of the birds and the sea and felt a growing peace.
At noon he opened the second prescription. It read: “Try Reaching Back.” Gordon thought about the meaning of this phrase and allowed the many memories of his past to come flooding back to him. Reaching back, he recalled times of happiness, achievement and fulfilment.
When three o’clock came, he opened prescription number three and read: “Examine Your Motives”. Gordon thought of the work he was engaged on at present. Slowly it dawned on him that all his present endeavours were aimed at satisfying his own needs. He changed his thoughts and motives so that they were aimed at satisfying the needs of others.
Finally, at six o’clock, Gordon opened the last prescription and read: “Write your worries in the sand.” He did as instructed, writing the few remaining worries he had and turned homeward, knowing that the lapping waves would soon wash all his worries away.
Self-developers achieve most when they work with others, rather than against them or in isolation from them. Knute Rockner, an American baseball coach, never played anyone who didn’t like all his teammates.
Self-developers listen more than they talk.
Self-developers develop the likeability personality.
Self-developers don’t see people as superior or inferior to them; just as people.
Self-developers take advice from others.
Self -developers welcome criticism non-defensively.
Self-developers don’t use comparisons with others to put themselves or others down.
President Lyndon Johnson of the United States had a remarkable affinity for getting to know and like people and for getting them to know and like him in return. This is Johnson’s 10-point plan for getting along with others:
Learn to remember people’s names
Be an “old-shoe person” – someone who is easy to get along with
Acquire an easy-going nature, so things don’t ruffle you
Guard against the impression that you know it all
Cultivate the quality of being interesting
Study to get the “scratchy” features out of your personality
Drain off your grievances; heal your misunderstandings
practice liking people until you genuinely do
Never miss a chance to praise people
Give spiritual strength to people and they’ll give genuine affection back.
Giving spiritual strength to others is the last point on Lyndon Johnson’s Get-Along Guide. Mike George of relax7.com says that you don’t need to be a religious person to give out spiritual strength to others. All it needs is an awareness of “God within us”. Literally, this translates into “enthusiasm”. When someone has this quality in a group, they are like the sun coming out on a cloudy day. Such people have the following features:
They never see the dark side of things
They are energetically proactive
They don’t seek the limelight
They bubble with ideas
They infect others with their upbeat nature
They respect everyone they meet
There is a sparkle in their eyes
They live in the moment.
Like the sun, such people have a great attraction about them. By demonstrating super-energy, they are natural leaders
Various writers have alluded to a curious phenomenon that happens when you tune in to other people. Without exchanging words you can have the same thoughts. The psychologist, Carl Jung, called it “synchronicity” or meaningful chance. Others might call it coincidence or a synergistic response. What has been found is that when you tune in to others, you are able to tap into a collective consciousness as if all resources and knowledge came from a higher existence. Scientists have discovered it when they produce similar work at the same time but with no contact. It has also been discovered in the natural world when animals in different parts of the globe adopt similar behaviours at the same time. And in a mundane way, it is what happens when you and a colleague have the same thoughts, hum the same tune and do the same thing at the same time.
Super-energy is a mix of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual energy. Physical energy is ours for the taking if we learn to stay fit and look after our bodies. Mental energy is available if we learn how to turn negative into positive thinking. Emotional and spiritual energy is available if we connect with others in ways in which we can get along.
Exercise is a reminder that we can act and not just be acted upon.
To increase your energy, practise eating healthily and eating less.
We deplete our mental energy when we allow doubts, excuses and limiting beliefs to creep into our thinking.
It is how we deal with setbacks that determines whether we will win in the end.
Put effort into getting to like others and removing those “scratchy” features of your own make-up.
Tap into the combined energies of others who are working in the same fields as you.
Our positive spirit is the Adventurer in us. It is the part of us that glimpses what we are capable of. Through learning how to think positively about our goals, and to act positively in our daily habits, we attract to ourselves all the means which make our goals achievable. Here are the main ways you can become more positive.
Your self-image is the person you think you are. You are your own creation. When your self-image is low, you attract into your life all the experiences and conditions that tell you how poor you are. Conversely, when your self-image is high, you attract experiences telling you how great you are. The easiest way to create the self-image you want is through your self-talk. Simply control the chatter in your head. Boost your morale regularly, morning, noon, and night with what you tell yourself.
Mothers, fathers, managers, bosses, superintendents, company presidents, everybody, heed this: raise your own self-esteem to where it belongs and good things will happen, both for you and others. How do you do that? You do it through your self-talk. You must think well of yourself. You must know you’re good. Start by controlling your own self-talk. From here forward, it is out of place in your life or your business to be evaluative, belittling, or sarcastic. Such junk has no place in a high-performance organisation just as it has no place in a high-performance individuals
What you will do is start looking for ways to boost your morale with your self-talk. You are going to do it regularly. You are going to do it every day: morning, noon and night.” (Louis Tice)
Our brains need images of positive goals to work towards. They become confused if we feed them negative goals. So, if it is your aim to give up smoking, don’t say: “I want to stop smoking”. Instead, say “I want to enjoy a pleasant evening out with a couple of refreshing drinks, breathing in fresh, revitalizing, clean, pure, uncontaminated, healthy air.”
Numerous experiments confirm the truth that when you expect the best, you usually get the best, and when you expect the worst, you usually get that too. This is known as the self-prophesying principle. So, at the start of any new enterprise or at the start of each new day, look forward with expectations of the very best.
“Look to this day:
For it is life, the very life of life;
In its brief course
Lie all the verities and realities of your existence: The bliss of growth,
The glory of action,
The splendor of beauty. For yesterday is but a dream,
And tomorrow is only a vision; But today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope. Look well therefore to this day!
Such is the salutation to the dawn.” (Kalidasa – Indian dramatist)
Like the man who had too many lemons and turned them into lemonade, or the man who bought snake-infested land and learnt how to turn their skins into shoe-leather, every seeming setback can be turned around and made into a triumph. This is what Teddy Roosevelt did in the following story.
In 1912, just before the nomination of Teddy Roosevelt as presidential candidate, it was discovered that no one had obtained permission to run off all 3 million pictures of Roosevelt and his running mate, Hiram Johnson. Legal penalties for the copyright violation could be as much as $3 million. But it was too late to turn back. The printing plates were ready. Any changes would cost millions.
The chairman of the campaign committee decided to play a different tack and sent a telegram to the photographer saying, “Planning to use 3 million copies of the Roosevelt photo. Great publicity opportunity for you. What will you pay for us to use the photos?”
“Appreciate the opportunity,” replied the photographer. “Can only pay $250.”
The chairman replied, “OK. Deal.”
If we are positive at the start of an enterprise, we should be equally positive at the end when we review. Many people become discouraged when things don’t go to plan and they beat themselves up for missing out on the one thing that didn’t work. But there are always gems of real worth in every situation, even apparent disasters, if we only look hard enough. One way to review positively is to use igniter phrases rather than chloroform phrases. So, an obstacle is not a “barrier” but a “challenge”; a setback is not a “disaster” but a “chance to learn”; and a tough problem is not a “failure”, but “a nut we’re going to crack”.
The story is told of an African king who grew up with a friend who had a very positive outlook on life.
One day when they were both out hunting, the king accidentally blew his finger off to which the friend replied, “This is good”. Annoyed with this remark, the king immediately dispatched his friend to jail.
A year later the king was out on another hunting expedition when he was captured by cannibals. They put him in a pot and were about to eat him when they noticed his missing finger. Unable to eat anyone who wasn’t whole, they let him go.
Full of remorse, the king released his friend from jail and begged him for forgiveness for sending him to jail.
“That’s OK,” said the friend. “Why?” replied the king. “Well, if I hadn’t been in jail, you’d have had all your fingers. And I’d have been with you.”
One of the biggest drains on our enthusiasms is to be surrounded by people who are negative. They may be well-meaning with their warnings but they are misguided. You have two choices if you want to survive as a positive person: avoid them or train them. One clever way to train negative people is to simply ignore them when they use discouraging conversation. Simply blank them. Then when they return to positive expressions, re-connect. Very soon, they will learn that you are a person who has a sunny disposition and they will simply drop their previously gloomy attitude with you.
Allan Pease recalls how one of his colleagues, Alan, was conducting a seminar on communication. One student would make for him during each break and find any excuse to complain. He would complain about the rain, about his football team, about how he was being treated by his ex-wife and so on and on. Alan decided that he would ignore every single negative comment. He just looked elsewhere, picked at his lunch or read the newspaper. When however the odd positive comment cropped up, Alan’s face would light up and he would engage in normal conversation. After using this technique for a while, the student started to communicate good-naturedly with Alan while reverting back to pessimism with everyone else.
Emile Coue, the founder of auto-suggestion, carried out a number of studies that proved that positive thinking can cure both mental and physical pain. George Gallup in his study of old age also found that a positive attitude was one of the key ingredients of long living. More recent studies have shown that brain cells actually shrivel up and die under the effect of negative thinking while positive thinking actually changes the composition of body cells for the better. Which all goes to show that positivity is better than any medicine you could buy from the chemist store.
Good habits are as easy to make as bad ones. It’s simply a matter of choice and repetition. So, if you want the positivity habit in your life, do these things every day: Dress the best you can
give people positive strokes of recognition
give people the most precious gift you have: more of your time
when you meet a stranger, be the first to shake hands
be interested in the world around you
be thankful for everything you get.
Positivity is not a Pollyanna-ish rose-tinted view of things which ignores reality, but a choice we make about thinking, acting, and speaking which creates reality. As such, it has the power of magic.
Positive ways of thinking do not distort reality but rather make choices in how we see and interpret reality.
All lasting change about ourselves starts with the way we think and then moves to the outside.
It is the imagined self-image that determines how we feel about ourselves not the actual way we are.
High-performance individuals and teams never devalue themselves in their self-talk.
The brain cannot work towards achieving a negative goal.
When you expect the best, you usually get the best; when you expect the worst, you usually get that too.
October 23, 2015
Enter some text here