Last night as I was jogging to prepare for my 10k run this upcoming weekend, I couldn’t take my mind off of what it meant to change the way we think. We hear an see it all the time from motivational speakers, books, audios, and YouTube videos. These preachers say that change starts with the mind, and we gravitates towards whatever it is that our mind thinks about on a consistent basis.
Its almost like telling an obese person “hey you need to lose weight.” Duh, of course. Or, “you need to change your diet.” Again, another duh, of course. It takes a little more than blunt comments to do the obvious. An obese person needs to sit down, likely with someone they trust, and seriously evaluate their eating habits, and decide where the small changes can start, which will then lead to bigger changes that will ultimately make it seem like the desired results were an overnight success.
So when someone says, change the way you think, this is what I perceive the break down to be. First, to break it down one level further – stop thinking about the things that hold you back, and focus more on the things that will move your forward. But this is still too generic, it has to be broken down further. But it’s okay – this is still one step closer than the original statement.
So now what? You could ask yourself what you want, and work from there, but I think it makes more sense to first think about what you DON’T want. Why? Simply because at this very moment, you want to be somewhere that you are not. This is happening because the thought patterns are holding you from taking the first step in the right direction.
What is it that we don’t want? Actually it’s still kind of a blur. The way to think about it is, your brain is like a fixed sized bedroom. There’s only so much space that you can work with, so you have to pick and choose what to put in, but it’s just as important to think about what not to put in.
You’re room might already have some stuff in there, and you need to clear out some things before you can bring in the new, even if you don’t know what the new stuff is yet. What you do know first, is that there isn’t enough space and some things have to go. You can think of your brain as working the same way with this analogy.
So enough of the theoretical jibber jabber – what’s an example? Well, I can tell you about some of the things I use to spend a lot of time thinking about, and while it may not have seemed like a bad thing, really had no significance in my life. Those thoughts aren’t wrong just for the sake of being wrong – they’re wrong because it is blocking room for the other thoughts that really matter. For instance, like some of my friends, I used to bitch a lot about gasoline prices. When a gallon raises by 10 cents, people act like hell had frozen over (much like I had). So your brain mentally starts doing a few things:
- Complain about the price
- Complain about oil companies taking advantage of the small guys
- Think about how much to pour in the tank in case you find a cheaper station later
- Text or call your friend to complain about steps 1 and 2
- Spend time looking/driving for a cheap gas station
- Ask your friend if they know which station is cheap
- Post about it on Facebook/Twitter, or whatever social network is cool at the time
- If you find a cheaper station, you spend time thinking about how proud of yourself you are
Of the 8 things I listed above – you probably are guilty of some if not most of those things. Here’s a reality check – I bet most people, without the big SUVs, fill up about 10 gallons or so, maybe 13 in some occasions. This means those people end up paying anywhere in total from $1 to $1.30 more than what they are used to paying. Stop and pause for a second…why is this such a big deal? Because of principles? Bullshit…this is an utter waste of brain power. Moreover, if you happen to find a gas station that had cheaper gasoline, you’ll spend more time thinking about how you found such a great deal. You probably saved at most $0.50 – yep, tons to celebrate!!!!
You guys get the point – I could easily bring up at least a dozen more similar things that occupy your mind and prevent you from focusing on the things that matter. Like how you got “jipped” at Quizno’s because the sandwich guy was cheap on the lettuce and tomatoes. Or how you paid $1 more on a loaf of bread after finding out it was on sale the next day. Or how the slumlord found a way to withhold $50 from your security deposit for damage you swore was there to begin with (I know $50 can be a lot to some people, so remember, this is all relative). My major point is – there are a lot of things we spend time thinking about that, in the bigger scheme of things, really don’t matter.
So as a first step, when someone says change the way to think, clear out the clutter first! The cluttering thoughts are examples that I described above. If you have friends or colleagues that consume their brain power with these types of thoughts, you know what needs to be done. Spend less time with them. Notice I didn’t say cut off – just spend less time.
There is a bit more to this process, and it goes beyond the little things I described above. It will also include outsourcing things that requires more time than what your time is worth. Like fully washing your car by yourself. Honestly, if you can spare $10, it’s better to let someone else wash and vacuum your car for you. If for some reason you are saying it costs more than $10, how much more? $3 more? It’s still worth it.
The idea here is that you need to take some time off, and alone if necessary, to look through the things you spend so much time thinking about. Then start pushing out the clutter so that you start thinking about the right things. Hence, you will finally take the first step in changing the way you think.