‘Thoughts are things’ – Napoleon Hill in ‘Think and Grow Rich’.
We are what we think. All that we are, arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world. – Buddha
A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes. – Mahatma Gandhi
These are but a few among so many great personalities who have talked about the power of thought, yet so few realize and try to harness this power consciously. Most of us go through life with a bag of conflicting thoughts, producing conflicting results in our lives. We squander this, most potent of all powers, and keep feeling helpless. We see some, mysteriously rise to heights of success. We say they are lucky.
Nothing can be further from the truth. Success originates in a disciplined and focused mind. It is not by chance that you achieve it, it is by conscious choice. That choice is made in our minds, in our thoughts.
All great endeavors are born in thought first. Before you become successful, you decide in your mind that you want to be successful. You make it into a clear, concrete statement into your mind. This statement runs like a tape in your mind, all the time. You run on it. You remind yourself of your resolve everyday. You guard it from negative influences.
When you are feeling low and want to quit, these thoughts will pull you up. You have created a reservoir of positivity that keeps you from drowning. First you create the positivity and hold it close to you. When you are down, the positivity reciprocates by holding you up.
Here are a few things to do to cultivate the right thoughts :
1. Have a clear purpose. Although this is not direct work upon your thoughts, its very important. Having a clear purpose in life helps you focus your thoughts towards it. If your purpose is not clear, you thoughts won’t be either.
Decide a goal that you want all your efforts to move towards. If you are not sure, think up something you want to achieve next and just make it your goal. If it is not the right thing, you will find out soon and can, immediately, refine it. After a few iterations, you will have a clearly defined goal that you feel right about.
2. Consciously focus your thoughts towards your purpose everyday. Set time everyday to think about achieving your goal. Focusing your mind needs training, just like muscle building. You can start by taking 10 mins each in the morning and evening to think about your goals. Look for a place where you will have no disturbance, preferably a quiet room. Think of your goal, feel as if you are achieving it, visualize your success in your mind.
3. Give yourself a positive environment. Keep closer to influences which resonate well with your purpose. Read books on self improvement and about the field you want to succeed in. Find life stories of successful people in your field. Keep the company of success-minded friends who believe in your goal.
4. Meditation. Meditation is a wonderful way to train your mind to get focused and disciplined. It also helps in de-stressing and calming you down. There are different ways of doing it. Here is one.
Sit in a comfortable position. Practice focusing on your breath. Just let it flow on its own, don’t try to take deep breaths. Just observe it. It will slow down in some time. Once it slows down, try to have no thoughts consciously. When they arise, look at them as a detached observer and let them go away. Don’t fight to make them go.
5. A to-do list to de-clutter your mind. If you have a number of things that occupy your mind, keep a to-do list with you. Write down everything you need to do and finish them one at a time. Don’t try to multi-task, it confuses the brain and reduces focus.
Writing things down has immense power. It adds definiteness to purpose and your mind eases up as it realizes that those things have been duly noted somewhere and need not be remembered.
6. Go for 5 minutes more. Another form of exercise for the mind is that, whenever your mind is tired and you want to stop, do the job for a few more minutes. This will slowly build your capacity to focus. But remember not to stretch this too far, just a few more minutes.
7. Practice being in the Now. This adds on to meditation. While meditation requires setting aside some time and effort, this can be done anywhere, anytime. A few times in the day, try to be mindful, be in the present moment. Look at things around you, really look. Observe how they are, what is there texture. Touch them and observe how they feel. Feel a connection to them. Don’t try to think about them, just feel.
8. Keep only the essential in view. Wherever you work, keep that place clean. Keep only that which is required. Anything else is a distraction. Different people have a different idea about what is absolutely essential, so I will leave that decision to you. Keeping the minimum required at your work place, helps you keep focused.
9. Post your purpose where you work. You can write your purpose on a paper, take a printout or keep a vision board. Every time you see it, it will remind you of why you are making all this effort. It will bring your focus and your thoughts back to where you want them. Stick it or keep it in a place where you see it often.
10. Don’t procrastinate. If you have something important on your mind that you can quickly finish right now, do it right away. A task not finished, when your mind knows it could have been, leaves a feeling of guilt. It saps energy. You will be burdened with constantly reminding yourself to finish it until you really finish it. Just do it.