1. Understand your thoughts are pure life-shaping power.
Become aware of your thoughts in present moments, especially how you think and speak of yourself and life (also others). These thoughts are life shaping power at emotional, mental and physical levels. Your brain and body literally responds to key thoughts by activating neurotransmitters (emotion molecules) inside, which in turn produce structural changes in the brain. They also stop and start behaviors accordingly. In other words, depending on the situation, they have the power to shape your life and its direction.
To understand how much leverage you have to produce optimal outcomes, the first step is to accept this miracle making power as who you are fundamentally! It is a capacity you have to access at any moment, and hopefully cultivate! You create your experiences with your thoughts. It cannot be said enough: Change your thoughts, change your life!
2. Know that you always have a choice. No exceptions.
Become aware of your capacity to observe your thoughts. It’s true; certain habitual thoughts are automatic. You cannot necessarily certain thoughts from coming in, however, by observing them, and identifying toxic thinking patterns and, or limiting beliefs that no longer serve you, you can choose to shift away and replace them in any given moment or situation with optimal ones. It’s not easy to rewire and rework old habits. You must be willing, determined. The first step however is to fully accept that, yes indeed, you really, really, really have a choice in what you think or tell yourself or say! Become an observer, in effect, see yourself and life from your wise-self vantage point — not as a harsh judge and jury. Controlling the circumstances around you may be limited, but you always have a choice in how you respond to events and circumstances.
It’s a powerful exercise of the mind. You are wired to be and act as the agent, primary choice-maker of your life. Own it! Go beyond, to be in awe of this human capacity to observe and choose optimal responses, and shift away from old reactive (fear-activating) programming and patterns. It’s no small matter! A better understanding of yourself, grants you a better understanding of others, and life around you. It frees you to be yourself, compassionately so, and then grant this freedom to others.
3. Accept the reality that your choices in the now, in present moments, are pure power.
There is no greater power than your choice at any moment as to how you respond, what you focus on, and thus, what meanings and emotions you create and hold inside. These interpretations are pure power as they activate emotion molecules that move you to action, or to inaction for that matter. Power defined as a displayed ability of one person to control and subjugate another with fear and lies, in reality, is the weakest form of power. It takes an enormous amount of energy to achieve and maintain this, comes with high costs to the health of both, and thus at best is merely an illusion of power.
In its purest form — power is a cultivated ability to make optimal choices. It is also a learning derived from making less than optimal choices, a process of growing wisdom, belief and confidence in yourself to make ever better ones. You hold the reins, never give them away, for example, by blaming others or being harsh with yourself for past mistakes. Instead consider new ways of responding, and accessing your power in present moments to rewire old patterns of reactivity. Observe your thoughts is a practice to cultivate, something you mindfully choose to do, throughout the day, i.e., getting ready for work or driving the car. This powerful capacity, unique to humans, to think about your thoughts amps up your capacity for possibility thinking and creativity. As a side benefit, you may make fewer mistakes, and less costly ones.
4. Get comfortable with what is uncomfortable, yet challenges you to grow.
To optimize your ability to choose, think and observe yourself and life, and so on, involves processes that are all about growth; and all growth is uncomfortable. (Until we accept and integrate the new learning.) When you open yourself up to grow optimally, you will likely discover that the main problem you’ve faced in life, or what has always kept you stuck at any give time or situation has been — old comfort zones. Old comfort zones are behavior patterns more often learned and reinforced from childhood; your subconscious mind has learned to associate them with what is familiar and thus comfortable, safe.
At every level, physical, mental and emotional, human beings are wired to grow throughout life. The “Rule of Use It Or Lose It” applies to human development, and like gravity, is always in effect. In other words, when effort to grow stops, the gains are not maintained. For example, if you stop going to the gym, regardless previous gains, your body will experience muscle loss; if you stop learning, your brain will lose density, and so on. You’re wired to grow. All growth is painful. Avoiding growth is what causes suffering, however. It’s not unusual to fear and resist change because of the discomfort new choices naturally produce. Whenever you’ve felt stuck, it’s often a result of avoiding the discomfort of stepping out of old comfort zones. As a child, you developed many comfort zones. While these served and protected you at the time, as an adult, most comfort zones become the cause of suffering. Your ability to learn to get comfortable with what is uncomfortable to you, in your own comfort zones, will remain a lifelong experience.
These four conscious choices are not as easy as they may sound to practice and apply. The effort’s worth it!