What you think you become.
This is the idea behind Sensory Goal Setting, Creative Visualization, Sports Psychology and the Positive Thinking movement most known by people like Zig Ziglar, Dale Carnagie and Anthony Robbins.
If you picture yourself in negative scenarios you will end up in those scenarios and if you picture yourself in happy, healthy, successful scenarios you will end up happy, healthy and successful.
The popular expression “The Power of Positive Thinking” was first the title of a book by Norman Vincent Peale and later came to be a slogan for the whole movement. This idea, that what you think you become, wasn’t always common knowledge.
Examples of Positive Thinking
The box-office success “The Matrix” was a spectacular metaphor for the what-you-think-you-become theme and even movies intended to be mind-candy now communicate it.
In Star Wars Episode One Liam Neeson’s jedi character tells a young Darth Vader to remember “your focus becomes your reality.” This is so obvious to most of us now that it is even portrayed in our highest grossing movies but we forget that it was new to us at one point.
Norman Vincent Peale’s book “The Power of Positive Thinking” (which can be found in any used book store, anywhere on the globe right next to “Psycho cybernetics” for 50 cents) has chapter titles such as:
- “Believe in Yourself,”
- “How to Have Constant Energy,”
- “Don’t Believe in Defeat,”
- “How to Create Your Own Happiness,”
- “How to Get People to Like You,”
…which, while sounding overly keen now, where also published in 1952 and started a cultural momentum. It continues today with Neurolinguistic Programming, Neuropsychoimmunology, Personal Excellence Training, motivation-based management styles, success modeling in athletics and dozens of pop-psychology schools.
The idea that you can choose your own attitude and intentionally frame and re-frame experiences to appear more positive is still disquieting to many social philosophers.
[pullquote type=”left, right”]Positive thinking is an active process and requires daily work, even hard work to be successful. It requires new and creative approaches and what follows are some suggestions on how to practice it more regularly.[/pullquote]
Relativism and Optimism are both often accused of being morally neutral and/or escapist, and they often are, but if if your focus does indeed become your reality then it is just intelligent to think constructively and as is suggested by how normal the positive thinking theme is in popular culture I think it can now be called the norm.
Nobody knew the expressions “Self Fulfilling Prophecy” and “Pygmalion Effect” in 1952, but now we all know them as anthropological facts. And now people practice positive thinking regularly.
Getting Started: Make a Self Image Binder
To help me visualize myself in positive scenarios, I have cut out my own image from photographs and pasted them in a binder full of happy and successful backgrounds.
For example, one of them depicts me in a room full of money. Another of them is me in abnormally perfect health. Another is in a garden where all of the world’s ecology problems have been solved. I have pictures of myself for as many positive scenarios as there are words for, surrounded by love, victorious in personal achievements, receiving Nobel prizes, and ecstatic in various fantasy pleasure scenes.
List Personal Strengths
Another positive thinking exercise which I try to practice at least once a day is to make a list of all my personal strengths without being humble and sometimes even going a little overboard just to add energy to the wheel of positively in my own life.
Add to the list regularly and make an effort to come up with a few new one’s each day.
Make Your Own Hypnosis Take
This is fairly simple. All you need is a script, a tape recorder and a blank tape.
I try to keep the messages and slogans short and simple, things like “Your immune system is getting stronger,” and “Do something nice for someone you love to make your love stronger,” and “You can go farther than you ever dreamed” etc.
For an empowering life affirmation you can play back the tapes in the tub, in your car, while sleeping, meditating or just around the house
As I write this I am working on a heritage theme park in Australia. My girlfriend and I dress up each day and play act roles in a fully functioning town from the 1800’s. I am the town newspaper printer. Success theater is very similar to acting in a theme park. Just as you would rehearse for a wedding many times before the actual event, success theater is creating full-scale 3-D mock-ups of critical events before they happen and rehearsing the success.
This practice prepares you when the unconscious mind encounters an important situation it knows how to behave. In martial arts like Karate, students train their muscles to react to virtual threats in exactly the same way.
Your Self Talk
Mohammed Ali didn’t just train his body, he trained his mind all the time by constantly bragging, praising himself, recounting his successes and telling himself and others that he was the greatest boxer of all time.
I try to have a similar self-appreciating monologue going in my own mind as often as possible. Say good things about yourself, your world, your experiences, your feelings, your body, your talents and your aspirations all the time in an obnoxious exaggerated way and after a while you will start to really believe them.
It’s easy to think negatively. Thinking positively takes energy creativity and commitment but if you bother it’s well worth it.