We underestimate the power of the mind and, more specifically, our thoughts in shaping our lives so frequently now that I’m not sure many of us are even trying anymore. We can think anything we want, relatively speaking, and yet how few of us actually try to think the truth. Instead, we allow all sorts of information – from TV to movies to music to radio to billboards to blogs to acquaintances at work and everything in between – to wash over us without ever considering their impact. And unless we are proactive in deliberately thinking for ourselves, someone else is going to think for us.
When acting in concert with natural law, there are no limits to what we can do. But unless we understand those laws and think accordingly, which is only possible if our minds are healthy, we unwittingly restrain ourselves from realizing just how transformative we can actually be.
The real enemy to our personal progress is our self-doubt and unbelief; it is our ignorance of natural law. Indeed, it is our ignorance not just of ourselves – who we are – but, more importantly, of whose we are that prevents us from developing our minds.
We often overlook just how debilitating untruths are in our personal development pursuits, as well as in our efforts to make meaningful contributions. It’s not just that we have to learn new things, but also that we have to unlearn many old things. So don’t add insult to injury by being indifferent to who or what controls your mind.
The challenge since time immemorial has been to see things as they really are. It is only then that we can develop an accurate understanding of what is possible. In other words, we must continually peel back the layers of ignorance that cloud our judgement and warp our perception of reality.
This, of course, is no easy task. It requires a kind of humility that is rarely valued in “enlightened” societies. The temptation to think not that we know everything – most people understand intuitively that they don’t know everything – but that we know all we need to know is ever-present. And, unfortunately, we have a tendency to choose complacency over doing our best.
To overcome these challenges, therefore, here are four ways to begin developing the power of your mind:
- Commit to doing what you know is right. Always.
This is perhaps the most important thing you can do to develop a healthy, strong mind. Regardless of what you try to make yourself believe, you cannot escape the moral responsibility of doing what your conscience dictates, at least not without damaging your psyche. There are certain immutable laws that apply to everyone no matter the time or place. Abiding by our conscience is simply one of them. In fact, it is among the most important of all the natural laws.
There is no more effective way to develop our self-esteem and personal belief and confidence than in choosing to do what we know is right from moment to moment. The world can do just about anything it wants to us, but as long as we remain focused on our ultimate goal – to choose what we know is right no matter the consequence – we can rest assured that whatever difficulties we may face, they will only serve to strengthen and motivate us. In fact, our trials should serve to make us stronger, not weaker. And there is no greater strength than the strength we derive from developing our personal integrity and character.
Individuals of character are unmistakable. Their presence seems to fill a room. They command our respect. More importantly, there is something about them that moves us to want to be more like them. It is a privilege to know such individuals, even if only briefly or from afar. And we would do well to follow their example.
- Drink deeply from the waters of wisdom literature.
Exposing our minds to other great minds should go without saying. We cannot develop our minds to the degree necessary if we’re not constantly learning from the great men and women who have toiled tirelessly to communicate timeless truths that have the power to change our lives. There is no alibi for illiteracy. Ignorance, it should be noted, cannot save us.
Moreover, by drinking deeply from the waters of wisdom literature we educate our consciences. As we continually move down the path of personal progress and development, we should be learning more and more about how we can improve and grow. If we’re not learning of new ways we can improve, then we’re not improving. We’re stagnating, if not regressing.
Life is an opportunity to prove what we’re really made of. We should not expect to live a full life if we’re unwilling to show up every day determined to be just a little better than we were yesterday. And to be a little better every day requires a steady diet of literature that moves and inspires us; that educates and corrects us; that challenges us to reach heights we never dreamed possible.
- Turn down the volume.
We live in an extraordinarily noisy world. Just about everywhere we turn, someone or something is vying for our attention. If we’re not careful, we’ll end up living a life designed by someone other than ourselves. We’ll end up buying things we don’t really want to impress people we really don’t like. Our time will be spent making other peoples’ dreams come true; lining their pockets at the expense of our own.
And it is not just external noise that should concern us. Our internal chatter is often negative and self-sabotaging. So if we’re not deliberate in turning down the volume, in quieting our minds, and in specifically speaking to ourselves in a way that inspires confidence and self-belief, it won’t much matter what we experience externally, we’ll become our own worst enemy.
Call it intuition, a hunch, conscience, spirit, or whatever, but there is no mistaking the fact that there is such a thing as a sixth sense. In order to tap into this power, it is absolutely essential that we learn to hear with more than just our ears. We must also learn to hear with our hearts. And to do that we must quiet and focus our minds.
- Safeguard your mind by being careful about what you allow to influence it.
Think of your mind as a garden. Only allow those things you want to grow in it to be planted. Likewise, make sure you stay on top of the noxious weeds that inevitably attempt to take it over. In other words, if you want to plant faith, don’t entertain your doubts.
It is important that we are not casual in what we choose to look at, read, watch, or listen to. There is no such thing as pure entertainment. Whatever we’re exposing ourselves to is going to influence us to one degree or another. Recognize, therefore, that whatever you give your attention to will become larger in your life. If you’re giving your attention to entertainment that is, among other things, degrading, most likely you’re being degraded.
In short, if your thoughts and feelings are tied up in everything that is going wrong in your life, how can you ever expect to make things go right?