Saturday, August 05, 2006

Day 4 - MIND

The surrounding environment is a result of the mental environment.

"In the province of the mind, what one believes to be true either is true or becomes true." – John Lilly

Let's recap what we've covered in the last three days:

  • There's a reason you're studying this book.
  • You can think for yourself.
  • You can change your own attitude on your own.

If you've tried these out for yourself by doing the exercises and found them to be true, then the next datum I'm about to tell you should seem logical:

The physical environment around you can be changed by changing your mental environment.

To backtrack a bit, just suppose, when you weren't feeling very good, someone came up with a problem that demanded an immediate solution. The solution you came up with wasn't the best and perhaps it had drawbacks, but was the best you could come up with on short notice, under the circumstances. Now you have to explain that decision to your boss or to the Board.

Now suppose you were feeling great that day, ready to take on the world, at your physical and mental best. This same someone came up with the same problem, still demanding a solution. The solution could be thought out faster, more details could be included, a more optimal result was produced. Better for the company and better for your job. You get kudos for this and perhaps even a raise for saving the company money.

The difference in these two scenarios was your attitude, not the problem. Now you know that, with practice, you could adopt any attitude at all towards that problem, toward your job, toward the company. Now every day can be a great day. Every solution can be optimal for all concerned. This logical argument above is just the tip of the iceberg as far as your mental condition affecting your environmental scene.

The precise details of how this is accomplished is best covered by Charles F. Haanel in his book, The Master Key System . As well, a more succinct version is found in James Allen's As a Man Thinketh. Both of these books cover the technical and philosophic details behind self-improvement and outline the exact ways that the way you set your mind predicts the outcome of your personal environment.

This might fly in the face of some modern thought about minds, genetics, fate, destiny and various other subjects. But you are here to change somethings about your life, not get into the scientific and philosophical background arguments. (Frankly, if you wanted to, you can find scientific studies which exactly support each point that Haanel or any of these other referenced self-help authors stated. But unless you have the time to verify these books' premise by finding these supportive studies or to repeating these authors' research and readings, just for now accept that the technology of this is very precise and has been noted by scientists back as early as 1909 and philosophers in the 14th century and before, back to Plato and Aristotle at least.)

What and how one thinks changes and even forms the environment around one.

You've already seen this in your own attitudes. The trick on this is to take it further and work out what else you would like to change in the world around you. Using the tools you already have read and practiced, try taking responsibility for and changing your attitude toward something you'd like to improve in your life. While this may or may not make for immediate changes, you may find some different ways of dealing with some person or problem in your life.

James Allen covers this idea simply:

“Man is buffeted by circumstances so long as he believes himself to be the creature of outside conditions, but when he realizes that he is a creative power, and that he may command the hidden soil and seeds of his being out of which circumstances grow; he then becomes the rightful master of himself.”

That is the core and substance before you. Your attitudes and collective understandings about the world around you are what factually determine what and how things happen around you. We've already seen how you can change your own attitude and how such a changed attitude might change the outcome of your decisions. The further step to take, logically, is that the combined experiences from your learning, education, parental examples, TV, news, social groups – all these give you basic ideas that you can either use or discard as you see fit. But the ones you decided were worth keeping are the ones which now tell you how to act, what to do, what emotions are “correct” or “appropriate” for any given situation, etc., because you keep them there and keep using them.

If you are serious about self-improvement, or self-help, take this piece of advice: change your mind. Start thinking about how you currently react to things and sort these out against whether you think these reactions are sensible or based on common sense. If some sort of action is illogical, try simply working out what a more positive, more constructive reaction would be. Practice saying or doing that in your mind and even practice out loud, if you wish. The next time such a situation could occur, you'll be ready.

Steven Covey, in his bestselling The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People covers it simply:

“The ability to subordinate an impulse to a value is the essence of the proactive person. Reactive people are driven by feelings, by circumstances, by conditions, by their environment. Proactive people are driven by values – carefully thought about, selected and internalized values.

“Proactive people are still influenced by external stimuli, whether physical, social, or psychological. But their response to the stimuli, conscious or unconscious, is a value-based choice or response.”

Again, we come to the notice I made in the introduction: This book is an introduction to a common system of self-help. Not in one day was the universe created or Rome built. We are going to cover a great deal more tools which will enable you to make these choices. Covey has himself developed very good advice; if you dropped this book now and picked his up, you'd be no worse off. As well, you could study Carnegie or Hill or Haanel and probably come up with similar results.

What I am doing with this book is to show you a brief introduction to these authors and the common principles of self-help. I am laying out here the key points and substance of their knowledge in a logical pattern. Trying to change your whole life overnight probably wouldn't be the easiest thing you've ever tried – it could be done, but not easily. This book lays out simple explanations and equally simple, but powerful drills in a sequence where results can be achieved through repetitive and cyclical use.

In this day's study, we are covering the mind's effect on the environment. So let's do some exercises to see if we can't get more causative over them by changing our mind.

Day 4 Exercises:

Try this –

We've now learned to relax, physically and mentally, and to empty our minds of destructive thoughts. Now we need to start placing positive thoughts and attitudes there.

1. In the same room and chair as before, think of a place which has pleasant associations. Try to form a complete mental image picture of it. This won't necessarily be easy at first, but practice will bring about more and more complete and vivid versions of that scene for you.

2. Next, try concentrating on a single thought for 1o minutes. Bring a photograph with you and study the face carefully. Note the expression, the shape of the nose, position of the eyebrows, the clothing and hair arrangement – all the details of it. Now, close your eyes and try to see it mentally for yourself. Again, this is a skill to acquire and the more you do it, the easier it will become. See if you can hold the thought for 10 minutes. More than likely your mind will wander at first, but keep at it for 10 minutes.
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