What We Think, Is What We Become
Our thoughts are more than just thoughts. They are what guide us through life and define us. They mould our view of the world and those around us.
It was the author, Napoleon Hill, who said that “whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” The mind is a powerful tool when it comes to aspiring to success.
If we believe we can be successful, more often than not, we will be successful. However, if we believe we won’t be successful, then we often fail. This doesn’t mean we are prophetic creatures, it simply means that we come to believe what rattles around inside our heads.
If you have a growth mindset, you will believe that you can work on improving yourself or that there is opportunity all around you. Whereas, if you have a fixed mindset, you believe you cannot change your capabilities and that there are limited opportunities to be had.
Buddha said “The mind is everything. What you think, you become.” There is truth in this statement. If you can control your mind, you can dictate the course of your life.
You can either be held captive by your thoughts or set free by them. Whichever one you choose will determine the quality of your life.
While this may sound like some conceive, believe, achieve, bullshit, there is no doubt that our thoughts dictate our reality.
I have already written about how our internal dialogue affects our live, our thoughts are no different. What we think determines how we live.
This has been known for some time. The Roman stoic philosopher Seneca was aware of this as far back as 2000 years ago.
“Everything hangs on one’s thinking…A man is as unhappy as he has convinced himself he is.”
This quote speaks to me. Back in June 2017, I suffered the first of many panic attacks. I had no idea what was happening and naively thought I was having a heart attack.
Despite going to the hospital and confirming that it was only a panic attack, my mind kept playing tricks on me. Whenever I had the slightest twinge in my body, my mind would go into overdrive and my anxiety would build up.
I convinced myself I had all sorts of issues. Hardly a day went by when I didn’t think there was something was wrong with me. Be it an issue with my heart, a brain tumour or cancer, I kept convincing myself there was something wrong with me.
All the evidence pointed to this not being the case, but I couldn’t help it. My thoughts always drifted back to my body and whether there was something wrong with it.
It’s funny because prior to the initial panic attack, I never used to think like this. Sure, I would get a little worried by recurrent twinges and odd pains, but I never got myself into a full-blown panic over them. I certainly never spent day after day obsessing over them either.
It was as if my mind had been rewired by the events that day and my thought processes were recalibrated towards anxiety about my health.
2000 years later, I was confirming Seneca’s observation. I had convinced myself there was something wrong when there wasn’t. My train of thought had made me miserable and anxious. I was captive to my thoughts.
Control Your Mind, Control Your Life
Your mind is a powerful tool. It can either be your best friend or your worst enemy. What we think is what we become. My thoughts led me to become a hypochondriac and anxious. It was only when I stepped back and sought help that I was able to put myself on the right path.
You might not have mental health issues, but your mind can still play tricks on you. If you believe you can’t do something, then you are setting yourself up for failure. Before you have even started you are doubting whether you will be successful, it is a recipe for disaster.
Our thoughts are the soil from which our values and, by extension, life grow. We live what we think about constantly. These thoughts may be intangible, but their power is in how they affect us and make us act.
They can either broaden our horizons or hold us back. There is no major issue with having negative thoughts. All of us have them at some point or another, the issue is when you start to give in to them.
It was the humanitarian and Holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl who stated:
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.”
Our thoughts are ours and ours alone. We have the ability to choose how we feel, to choose how we will live our lives. That’s why our thoughts are so important because they dictate almost every aspect of our lives.
If you want to change your thought process and improve your quality of life. You have to take action. Only you live with your thoughts, no one else. If you don’t take action then who will?
To this end, the stoic, Epictetus has the ideal question:
“How long are you going to wait before you demand the best for yourself?”