Mind Over Matter
May 7, 2009 by The Dove
Your state of mind and beliefs can help you find opportunity where others believe there is none. The Green Dove asked best-selling author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, JACK CANFIELD, how to stay positive while much of the world retreats into scarcity mode.
The Green Dove: What is your definition of emotional health and well-being?
Jack Canfield: Having a positive outlook on life despite challenges and being able to cope successfully with whatever life throws you is a good indication of emotional health and well-being. Its being able to feel in control of your life no matter what-able to dream big and set goals, able to sense a deep connection within yourself and to the world at large, able to focus the mind on present problems and future possibilities, and able to have stable moods (mostly positive and joyful) and handle whatever stressors come into your life . Now that may seem like a tall order in todays unstable world, but observe how many people do maintain their cool under duress and always manage to see the proverbial silver lining and light at the end of the tunnel. Where others see dead-ends and doomsday, emotionally healthy people see opportunity, and lessons to be learned that will propel their future successes.
I have an equation I teach people thats one of my core success principles in life, and which has everything to do with emotional health and well-being:
E + R = O
(Events + Responses = Outcome)
The basic idea is that every outcome you experience in life (whether its success or failure, wealth or poverty, wellness or illness, intimacy or estrangement, joy or frustration) is the result of how you have responded to an earlier event (or events) in your life. Emotionally healthy people dont just know this instinctively; they make it a habit to respond in ways that generate the outcomes they want, even during extremely tough experiences or events seemingly beyond their control. Rather than spending their time blaming and complaining about a certain event, they focus on changing their responses to create the future outcomes that match their goals and dreams.
There are only three kinds of responses you have any control over-the thoughts you think, the visual images you create in your mind (dreaming and worrying), and the actions you take (which includes the words you speak). To keep your thoughts positive, you must read uplifting books, monitor your self talk, repeat positive affirmations, listen to uplifting music, stop watching negative news, listen to more comedy, and avoid conversations with negative people. Give up blaming and complaining and only talk about what you want and how you are going to get it.
To keep your imagery positive, watch uplifting movies and television shows, and spend at least ten minutes a day visualizing all of your goals as complete. Close your eyes and visualize your ideal life, your perfect relationship, your dream home with all the details, your ideal job, dynamic health, your dream vacation, and so on.
To keep your actions aligned with creating the success you want, study what successful people do. Success leaves lots of clues in the form of books, CDs, live seminars, on-line courses, coaches, mentors and teachers. Get involved in life-long learning. A successful life is created from a combination of the right mindset and the right skill sets. Unfortunately, most of what we need to know to live a fulfilling life was not taught in school. Keep educating yourself and applying what you learn.
TGD: What are the essential steps for someone who wants to maintain-and even elevate-their emotional health during down times?
JC: In these troubled economic times, when everywhere you look theres more and more evidence of how bad it is “out there,” we have to remember that how successful you are and how peaceful or distressed you are is a result of what you focus your attention on.
Remember that fear is self-created by focusing on something in the future that hasnt happened yet. A student in a recent seminar had been living in fear for the last year that they would lose their house. They are still in that house. Every single minute of fear that they were experiencing was self-created by imagining being thrown out of their home.
The truth of the moment is they were safely in their home. Stop imagining the worst and focus on your own personal present reality. Even if you are unemployed, you are still alive, still living somewhere. Focus on what you do have, and be grateful for it, rather than on some future negative scenario that has not happened yet. A wonderful acronym for fear is Fantasized (future) Experiences Appearing Real. Turn off CNN (Constantly Negative News) and turn on your own inner movie of that which you want to create in your life. Live from your vision, not some externally created “reality” piped into your brain by the media. Look for the positive in your life and celebrate it.
Remember E + R = O. Even in tough economic times, you get to decide how to respond to certain conditions, opportunities, and outcomes-both good and bad. Life will always be a series of choices and you are the decision maker on what will move you closer to your goals or farther away from them. External forces will always be part of the equation, but you ultimately select how to navigate through them.
Here are five more things to keep in mind that will help you keep your emotional well-being in check no matter whats going on:
1. Keep Dreaming Big. Dont let your inner critic inhibit you from dreaming big. As soon as you commit to a big dream, visualize it daily, and really go after it, your subconscious creative mind will come up with big ideas to make it happen. It will also help you to problem solve your way through challenges and create positive outcomes beyond your temporary struggles. As you continue to dream big, youll start attracting the people, resources, and opportunities you need into your life to weather any storms and make your dreams come true. Big dreams not only inspire you, but they also help you to get through tough times and put certain things into perspective. And remember this, it doesnt take any more time or effort to dream a big dream than a small dream. So if you are going to dream anyway, dream big.
2. Believe in Yourself. If you are going to be successful in maintaining your emotional health and creating the life of your dreams, you have to believe that you are capable of making it happen. Whether you call it self-esteem, self-confidence or self-assurance, it is a deep-seated belief that you have what it takes; the abilities, inner resources, talents and skills to create your desired results. Make the decision to believe that you create all your experiences-both your successes and your failures. That is the universal law that governs all results through the law of attraction. I know it may sound a little strange, but accepting this level of responsibility is uniquely empowering. It means you can do, change, and be anything you want. Stumbling blocks become just that-simply little hills to hop over.
3. Believe It Is Possible. Scientists used to believe that humans responded to information flowing into the brain from the outside world. But today, theyre learning that instead we respond to what our brain, based on previous experience, expects to happen next. In fact, the mind is such a powerful instrument; it can deliver literally everything you want. But you have to believe that what you want is possible. As you commit to believing in yourself, also make a commitment to toning down the blame and complaint department. Look at who you are blaming and what you are complaining about. Im fat. Im tired. I cant get out of debt. I wont ever get another job (or a better job). I cant stand the relationship I have with my father. Ill never find a soulmate in life. The economy is to blame. My spouse is the cause of my unhappiness. My boss is ruining my life. Really examine your blaming and your complaining. More than likely, you can do something about them. They are not about other people, other things, or other events. They are about YOU. Decide what you want, and create a plan to get it. If you dont know how, ask someone else who has already done it. Youll be surprised how many people are willing to share their wisdom with you. Be bold in your asking. If they say no, so what? You havent lost anything.
4. Become an Inverse Paranoid: This one is straightforward: an inverse paranoid is someone who believes the world is plotting to do them good. They believe that everything that happens to them has within it the seed of an equal or greater benefit. Imagine how much easier it would be to succeed in life if you were constantly expecting the world to support you and bring you everything you need. Act as if it is all going to work out. Successful people do just that.
TGD: How important is a balance of spiritual and practical in such times?
JC: There is really no difference between the spiritual and the practical. They are all part of the same continuum. What I recommend is that every day, you take a few moments to close your eyes, go inside, and simply ask for inner guidance. After a few moments of deep breathing (seven slow breaths inhaling to the count of four and exhaling to the count of four), ask God, Source, or your Higher Self, “What do I need to focus on today. What activities or attitudes do I need to engage in to bring forth my highest good?” Then sit in silence and just see what thoughts or images emerge into your consciousness. Once you receive an answer or answers, then spend a few minutes visualizing and feeling what that would look like.
Once you open your eyes, then get into action. Take the practical steps to actualize the guidance you have received. Learn to trust you inner voice. When ones activities are aligned with ones inner guidance, you have a marriage of the spiritual and practical. The key to success is to first tune in, and then to act on the intuitive messages that you get. If you dont go within and align with your true purpose, you may find yourself at the top of a ladder leaning against the wrong wall. If you tune in but dont act, you will find yourself continually looking up from the bottom of the ladder.
TGD: What are the biggest collective misconceptions during such a period as a recession?
JC: With incessant bad news, its easy to have doomsday-ish thoughts-that the world as we know it is going to end, that theres “nothing worth living for,” and that there are no opportunities. In fact, opportunities abound during down times as well as up times. Many of the richest, happiest people in the world owe their success to the down times. Its also true that recessions force people to take a closer look at their lives and their habits. Its a time to reassess what is most important in our lives-family, friends, community, emotional and spiritual growth, and our health. Its also a time to make critical adjustments that can foster greater wellbeing and future success. In times of stress, if we look objectively, we can see more clearly the things that are not working. Because of the recent financial crisis, we are all clearer about what does not work in the banking and real estate worlds. We see more clearly the effects of our own unconsciousness and the greed of others.
TGD: How do you personally maintain your emotional health?
JC: Its a combination of many things. I read books that inspire and uplift me. I listen to positive and motivational audio programs. I listen to positive music playlists I have created on my iPod. I listen to the comedy channels on XM Radio. I make sure to have fun and laugh every day no matter what. I meditate for 20 minutes a day. I visualize my goals as already completed. I keep updating my vision board so I stay motivated to move toward personal and professional goals I want to reach. I avoid toxic people who will try to bring me down or do nothing but complain and blame. I seek out positive people who are focused on achieving their goals and making a difference in the world. I watch a lot less news programming. I keep a gratitude journal that records things for which I am grateful, which can easily turn a bad day into a good one once I realize theres so much to appreciate and be thankful for.
I also exercise for at least an hour 4 days a week, take walks after dinner, and do yoga to support a healthy chemistry in my body that will lift my spirits and release any stress I may have built up. I eat a very healthy diet, and I limit my intake of alcohol and sugar.
TGD: How can someone’s life change once they have taken back control of their own emotional health? Do you have one strong example to share?
JC: Life can change dramatically. Suddenly, everything seems possible and doable. Its like being a kid again when the world is your oyster and you can dream of being or doing anything in life, no matter how impractical or crazy it may seem.
I recently had a student who took my one-day workshop on “The Success Principles” and one-month later made more money that month than in the entire previous year. He is on track to make ten times his 2008 income in 2009-in the midst of a “down economy.” Another student of mine is a yoga teacher in Boston. By creating yoga videos and selling them on-line, she has also turned her previous years income into her monthly income. Another student just wrote me that she has in the past 6 months doubled her income, taken her dream vacation in Hawaii, met her soulmate who she is now engaged to, lost 20 pounds and written a book! The truth is that everything can change.
TGD: What reading material would you wholeheartedly suggest someone get their hands on to help with the emotional health journey?
JC: The Success Principles, The Secret, and Jack Canfields The Key to Living the Law of Attraction are all a great start. In combination, they offer people a new way of thinking and a powerful set of practical methods for approaching life that can accelerate anyones journey to emotional health-or any journey for that matter. In addition, any Chicken Soup for the Soul book can also boost the spirit as well as teach useful principles for greater love, joy and abundance. I would especially recommend Chicken Soup for the Soul Life Lessons for Mastering the Law of Attraction and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living Your Dreams. I would also recommend reading books by the following authors:
Esther and Jerry Hicks on the law of attraction, Wayne Dyer on emotional and spiritual growth, Nathaniel Branden on self-esteem, John Bradshaw on emotional healing, Gary Craig on the Emotional Freedom Techniques, Hale Dwoskin on releasing negative emotions through the Sedona Method, Byron Katie on finding inner peace through letting go of limiting beliefs, Lisa Nichols on accepting and expressing our emotions, Lynne Twist on the soul of money, Brian Tracy on success, Michael Bernard Beckwith on spiritual liberation, Marci Shimoff on creating happiness, John Gray on creating fulfilling relationships, Cynthia Kersey on becoming unstoppable, Arielle Ford on attracting your soulmate, and Debbie Ford on embracing our shadow. All of their books have had a tremendous influence on my life and work.
Jack Canfield is the co-founder of the best-selling Chicken Soup for the Soul series, co-author of The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be, and a featured teacher in “The Secret.” For more information, call 1-800-2-ESTEEM or go to www.TheSuccessPrinciplesWorkshop.com.