THOUGHT 4 THE WEEK
Research reveals we each generate a whopping 70,000 thoughts every single day. That’s nearly one thought every second of every day ~ good or bad! What’s more, we revisit more than half of them over and over meaning we tell ourselves again and again that we are doing OK or that we are not!
Negative self-talk is more common than you think.Perhaps you do it too often?
You know, the counterproductive thoughts that sends you on a downward spiral physically, mentally or emotionally. Such ‘orribleness can be rooted in trigger events: the death of a loved one, a broken relationship, loss of work, a medical diagnosis, even moving to a new house, or simply unhealthy eating or irregular exercise. Uncontrolled negative thinking chips away at our self-esteem.
Forgiveness of Self Is Critical!
If you have trouble escaping negative naggers, self-forgiveness is the antidote. But, what exactly does it mean to forgive yourself?
Self-forgiveness is an essential component of psychological health that involves openly acknowledging our good attributes as well as our not-so-good ones. This does not mean not working on getting better, on improving, on changing. On the contrary, that’s the aim of this paper.
The Three Main Attitudes To Work On:
- loving our physical self ~ even if we're not completely satisfied with our height, weight, level of fitness or any other physical features;
- guarding our emotions ~ by not consenting to another's negative judgment of us; and,
- having faith ~ in ourselves by recognizing and emphasising our character strengths
People who have balanced these three areas of self-acceptance maintain a higher level of self-esteem resulting in more mutually beneficial outcomes with others. They're less likely to suffer from depression (too much time spent looking to the past), from anxiety (too much time spent looking to the future), from eating disorders or obesity.
Boosting Physical & Mental Health
Research reveals self-forgiveness actually boosts physical health and psychological well-being through the power of positive thinking and especially combats depression.
This makes sense as our positive attitudes bump-start better choices that promotes and strengthens the efficiency of our immune system, uplifts our spirits and decreases pain and chronic disease to provide stress relief. The opposite is also true. If we convince ourselves we are in a pit, guess what happens to our physiology?
One study found that happiness, optimism, life satisfaction and other positive psychological attributes are directly associated with a lower risk of coronary disease.
What we think about most of the time ~ good stuff or bad stuff ~ is what we attract in return. Kristin Neff Ph.D. explains that what he calls self-compassion has three primary outcomes:
- Substitute Self-judgment with Self-kindness ~ and we develop a frame of mind that comforts us in time of need. We stop regarding ourselves in a harsh, critical or judgmental way
- Substitute Isolation with Humanity ~ and we will understand through genuine friendships that being human is not to be perfect and that making mistakes is common with everyone
- Substitute Over-identification with Mindfulness ~ and we will accept each precious moment allowing us to reflect upon, but not give-in to, any negative experience
Get Rid of 'Shoulda’s'
Repetitive negative thinking about yourself will feed self-criticism. Beating yourself up for not making healthier eating choices or taking enough exercise or anything else is self-destructive.
Removing "shoulda" from your self-talk lessens false disappointments, guilt and shame. By removing the "shoulda" from your self-talk, you've made power-less the imagined authority standing behind you demanding that you 'SHOULD' do better. You become your own master again!
Choose each thought very carefully! As Henry Ford put it, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t. You’re right”.
So, start thinking the good, positive, uplifting thoughts right now. This very second. And keep on, keeping on!
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Complicated IS Easy! Simple IS Hard!
When some people hear me justify not reading, watching or listening to the news they get a tad quizzical. But, listen to this 2,000-year-old piece of advice, “If you wish to improve, be content to appear clueless or stupid in extraneous matters” Epictetus. [underline added]
Six-hundred-years ago, Gutenberg invented the press to keep Protestant citizens 'informed', and we have been conditioned to believe that constant high street journalism is the only way to achieve it. But, only the first part of that sentence has merit. Yes, it is the duty of every voting citizen to stay 'informed'. No, journalism is not usually the best way of doing it.
Towards the close of the 20th century, ‘news broadcasts’ accelerated to what today has become 24/7 bulletins on every conceivable device ~ whether we want it or not.
So, my advice to you is: if you want to keep your brains from being sucked out through you nose; if you want to feel happier and healthier; if you don’t want sensationalised or useless or petty distraction do not switch on the tele, radio or click any ‘news flash’ on your device unless you have a very, very, very strong reason for wanting to do so!
In fact, in today’s world of evermore ‘fake’ news, high street journalism is probably the worst possible way of gaining any true perspective of the outside world. Indeed, such sensationalism-for-profit all too often intends to deceive.
Think about this; in February 2016 the head of CBS exclaimed that a certain US Presidential Candidate was "bad news for America" but “damn good for CBS.” If that’s not an indictment for not watching so much news, you might as well stop reading this article right here.
The Better Way To Think
The better way to remain informed about anything is to follow the path of those who never knew real-time journalism. You’ll find them in history. You’ll find them in the law. You’ll find them in the Stoics, and you’ll find them as you study human nature (including our T4TW Blog).
If you truly want to remain informed. If you truly want to understand what’s going on in the world, pick up a biography. Pick up Thucydides. Pick up Plutarch. Read Seneca and Aurelius and Cato. Read The ‘History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire’ by Edward Gibbon. Read psychology. Read Vicktor Frankl's 'Mans Search For Meaning'. Read the constitution of your country. Read the 'The Seven Ages of Man' Poem by William Shakespeare. Read the "the Great Charter of the Liberties" commonly known as the Magna Carta. Read the scriptures. Read my T4TW blogs. And, its OK to read the occassional carefully selected novel. But ...
- Forget tweets!
- Forget SMS!
As we have said before: Read to un-learn! Study to learn! Search to know! Go deep. Go historic. Question for the truth. That’s what informed people do!
And if you are seen as ignorant about every other petty, insignificant thing, you are on the road to enlightenment. You are doing just fine.
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Complicated IS Easy! Simpl IS Hard!
The standard dictionary definition of ‘arrogant’ is not too helpful and most people use the word to describe someone who appears to possess more subject knowledge than they do.
Depending on which way you are facing, you may hold the view that someone else is being arrogant or that someone else thinks you are being arrogant.
The 3-types of Arrogance:
1) Belief Arrogance ~ exists in someone before they have demonstrated knowledge or understanding. They have a ‘belief’ in their independent advantage and may even hold a misguided understanding when they are proven incorrect. Belief arrogance is usually founded upon an inflated *ego and used as a smokescreen to hide embarrassment. Belief arrogance is used as a defence when someone fears a more knowledgeable person. Though it is natural to be confident in the things we believe, it makes sense to remain open minded to sincere discussion.
2) Crowing Arrogance ~ manifests when someone with correct knowledge or understanding uses an opportunity to put-down someone proven incorrect. Crowing arrogance is a weapon to maintain an air of superiority or to promote social position. Crowing arrogance is used to belittle the emotionally vulnerable. Crowing arrogance can have an adverse effect on the authenticity of the person doing the crowing as onlookers view this behaviour as cowardly, unfair and unkind. Consequently, crowing arrogance often backfires to downgrade the crowing individual’s social position.
3) Perceived Arrogance ~ occurs when another person’s behaviour is viewed as arrogant when in fact, it is not. When proved incorrect in knowledge or understanding it is natural to feel inferior or that your social position is under attack. To rescue this, you may take pot-shots at the person who has been proven correct in an attempt to redress the social balance. Emotionally immature people dislike being corrected and use perceived arrogance as a means of shoring up their emotional inadequacy, even to the point of reinforcing their belief in their own incorrect knowledge or understanding.
Questions Are the Answers ~ Socratic Positioning
Forcing even correct knowledge or understanding upon someone tends not to win their heart and mind! When sure of your understanding of a subject or fact it is highly effective to ask relevant questions allowing the other person to discover for themselves the truth of the matter.
Try opening your conversation with, “What is your attitude toward …?” then, listen attentively to each reply so you can progress with more self-discovery questions like, “What would be the benefit/consequence of that outcome?” Ultimately you may agree mutually beneficial action following the question, “Is that what you want?”
Asking discovery questions seeks a Win/Win ~ or No Deal outcome. This means the person on their personal journey of discovery will accept greater understanding and knowledge ~ or agree to disagree, agreeably (this for another paper).
If you are the one disagreeing, agreeably pay particular attention to your ‘educator’ and hear yourself saying, 'You're right. Thanks, I hadn’t thought of it that way'. Or,“I didn’t know that. May I check it out and get back to you?”
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*a person's sense of self-esteem or self-importance.
Monday: Rise & Shine ~ Who likes Mondays? It always seems more comfy just to hit the snooze button and close your eyes again for a few more minutes. But you can’t, because you have to get up.
From the time you are first sent off to school until the day you retire 500-salaries later, you’re faced with that same 1st-weekday-blues.
Lying-in means you're of no service to yourselves, to those who rely on you, or to the world at large so you yawn as you stagger to the shower switching on the kettle as you pass by.
"On those mornings you struggle with getting up, keep this thought in mind - I am awakening to the work of a human being.” Marcus Aurelius
Tuesday: Prepare Yourself For Daft Stuff ~ As dependable as the tides there will be someone you'll meet who will be in a foul mood. The question is: will you let their gremlins influence you?
This doesn't mean writing-off everyone you meet who may be having an off-day. It means preparing yourself emotionally for the daft stuff that may wash across your path so you aren't caught off-guard and will respond with kindness, patience, forgiveness and, dare I say, understanding.
“… none can do me harm or implicate me in ugliness - nor can I be angry at my relatives or hate them. For we are made for cooperation.” Marcus Aurelius
Wednesday: Clarify Your Intentions ~ The 2nd habit in Stephen R. Covey’s ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ is: Begin With The End In Mind meaning starting each day, task or project with a clear vision of your desired outcome (which could be a feeling), then continue by flexing your proactive muscles to make things happen.
Having an end in mind does not guarantee you’ll reach it, but not having one is a guarantee that you won’t. Never allow yourself to be driven into failure by the void of nothingness.
“Let all your efforts be directed to something, let it keep that end in view. It’s not activity that disturbs people, but false conceptions of things that drive them mad.” Seneca
Thursday: Be Ruthless With The Things That Just Don’t Matter ~ Do you ever wonder how you can recover lost time? The answer is not to lose it in the first place.
Start today by utilizing the power of saying “No, thank you,” and “Not just now.” It may antagonise. It may even put people off. But the more you learn to say no ~ politely and with a smile ~ to the things that don’t matter to you right now, the more you can say yes to the things that do.
“How many have laid waste to your life when you weren’t aware of what you were losing. How much was wasted in pointless grief, foolish joy, greedy desire, and social amusement. How little of your own was left to you. You will realize you are dying before your time!” Seneca
Friday: Turn ‘Gotta Do' Into ‘Wanna Do’ ~ Is everything clambering for your time; those things you have to do in the course of a day or a week?
Try this philosopher’s worldview. Rather than seeing the world imposing itself on you, see yourself as a beneficiary of the will of the world.
You're stuck in traffic! Take a few minutes to sit there and relax. The engine cuts out!? Ah, what a nice chance to take a walk. A cell-phone-wielding idiot nearly drives into you as you are walking! What a reminder of just how precarious life is. Isn't it silly to get upset about something as trivial as being late for a meeting or having trouble with your journey. Anyway, you have an incredible mobile device to communicate your situation, don't you? And, if you don't have a signal, think of the peace you'll enjoy when you can't be disturbed.
Jocking aside, it might not seem like there’s a big difference between seeing life as something you Gotta Do versus seeing life as something you Wanna Do, but there is a magnificent emotional benefit in that difference.
“We should bring our will into harmony with whatever happens, so that nothing happens against our will and nothing that we wish for fails to happen.” Epictetus
Saturday: Take A Walk ~ In most cities and large towns, it’s impossible to find much peace and quiet. The incessant noise of traffic, people shouting to make themselves heard and the hammering of road-works fill the streets with an auditory assault.
Throughout the ages philosophers, composers, writers and poets find walking offers the aura of time and space for improved thinking. Today, make a point of taking a walk. In future when you get stressed or overwhelmed, take another walk.
- When you have a tough decision to make, take a walk.
- When you want to be creative, take a walk.
- When you need to clear your head, take a walk.
- When you have a difficult phone call to make, take a walk.
- When you need some exercise, take a long walk.
- When you have a meeting or a friend over, take a walk together.
“We should take wandering outdoor walks, so that the mind might be nourished and refreshed by the open air and deep breathing.” Seneca
Sunday: A Week In Review ~ At the end of each day, and before the start of another week, ask yourself:
- What good habits have I adopted?
- Who impressed me the most?
- Were my actions towards others uplifting?
- Am I becoming a better me?
Keep a few notes and review what you did this day last week, last month, last year. Record what you think. Record how you feel. Describe how and what you could do better. It’s for this reason that Marcus Aurelius’ 'Meditations' is an inscrutable book. He wrote it for personal clarity, rather than for public benefit. Yet, we can learn, too.
Writing down things jump-starts your imagination. Keep your journal, digitally or written. Constantly reflect on what happens to you and how you respond. Be unflinching in your personal assessment.
“I will keep constant watch over myself and ... will put each day up for review. … plans for the future descend from the past.” Seneca
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Complicated IS Easy! Simple IS Hard!
Most people are not living On Purpose because their ego is getting in their way!!
They wander through life in a daze looking forward to the next fix (viz. disposable pleasure) to relieve the tedium of their existence.
They wonder why they lack inner peace (viz. fulfilment) as life seems to pass them by.
They drive to a job they dislike to pay for that newish car that takes them there to earn just enough to pay the mortgage on a home they abandon each day to go to the job.
Have I depressed you enough?
Let’s understand the limitation of egocentricity before we look for its antidote.
Human ‘ego’ may be defined as, a person's sense of self, which is all well and good. But when out of control, ego manifests as dominance over or submission to others. This win/lose, lose/win posture conflicts with the higher ideal of collaboration ~ a combined output greater than the sum of the individuals.
The founder of Brass Check, Ryan Holiday observes: “Ego is the enemy of … mastering a craft. Of real creative insight. Of working well with others. Of building loyalty and support. Of longevity. Of repeating and retaining your success.”
Too many people in the western world have been ‘educated’ to believe that ego is THE vital component to accomplishment. Whereas an appropriate sense of self-worth is 'karma', an out of control ego “… repulses advantages and opportunities. (is) a magnet for enemies and errors.” Ryan Holiday, again.
Ego loves the comfort of its zone ~ of where it is. But any over-inflated sense of self-importance chips away at the true potential of the individual. Always seeking more than the next guy, the egocentric mind tends to berate and abuse others on its supposed journey to get ahead.
Wow, that doesn’t sound too good!
Many harmonious and effective people ~ those truly comfortable in their skin ~ found peace of mind, even within highly unfavourable circumstance, by answering the following questions to reveal their purpose in life:
- Why am I doing what I am doing?
- Who is the real me?
- What purpose am I serving?
Stoicism is an ancient Greek school of philosophy founded in the early 3rd century BC. It teaches the highest ideals of life are the virtues, meaning: living in harmony with the divine reasons that govern all nature, remaining philosophical about any unwelcome or unpleasant events or to the pleasure or pain those changes may bring. In other words, "It Is What It Is" (iiWii), and we only control our responses to events!
Think of it this way: talking is easy, everyone does it. But silence gives you the opportunity to listen. And, in today’s world listening is rare. Out of control egos shout for it to be recognised. Yet, real confidence is in silence.
We must re-teach our ego to let go of the pressure and distraction of peers, of social media, of the news and to pay greater attention to our life’s purpose. And, if we don't have one, find one!
We must learn not to concern ourselves with complicated theories about the world we live in, but overcome destructive emotional re-actions by thinking through and acting on what can be acted upon. This is founded on appropriate, uplifting action, never manipulative argument.
When you pursue your life’s purpose, the ego within begins to lessen. You gain the quiet confidence of having a sense of your own destiny. As you talk less and act more you will begin to gain a tranquillity that helps you maintain your purpose and positively influences others:
As Seneca eloquently put it, “The one who puts the finishing touches on their life each day is never short of time.”
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Complicated IS Easy! Simple IS Hard!
Recommended reading, “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Victor E. Frankl