Life is filled with opportunity. As we experience life, sometimes the circumstances in which we find ourselves were caused by our own actions but many times we are in situations beyond our control. How we handle those situations can determine our success or failure. I’m talking about the power of our mind and its ability to determine whether we succeed or fail. Here are 4 keys to successful thinking.
1. Desire to Overcome
It’s not about managing a situation. Nor is it about manipulating the circumstance. Success comes from managing your mind. Your thoughts create your feelings. Think about it (see what I did there?). It is not your situation or circumstance that determines your feelings. It is what you THINK about your situation or circumstance that determines your feelings.
I’m sure you know someone or perhaps you’ve experienced this yourself, who manages to rise above their negative circumstances to succeed in some area of life. I think of people born in extreme poverty who grow up, get an education and become financially secure. How about the musician that is born deaf but manages to create incredibly beautiful compositions (think Beethoven). Or the marathon runner that powers through the “wall” to finish the race. There are artists whose arms are paralyzed so they paint with their mouth or their feet.
There are many examples of people overcoming their circumstances or “lot in life,” to become successful in some way. What is their secret? How did they do it? They have an overwhelming desire to overcome the hardship, to conquer the negative circumstances.
You’ve heard the phrase “mind over matter,” but what does that mean? It is used to describe a situation in which someone is able to control a physical condition, problem, etc., by using the mind. An endurance runner is a good example of this concept. No matter the fatigue they may feel or the pain they might experience, they keep going to finish the race by the power of mind over matter.
2. Get Rid of Negativity
The battle is won or lost in the mind. Sun Tzu states in his book, The Art of War, that “every battle is won before it’s ever fought.” The mind is a complex and powerful thing and it holds the key to your success or failure in life, in business, and in relationships.
A positive attitude begins with positive thoughts. The same is true for the negative side. If your mind is filled with negativity, your attitude will be negative and your actions and behaviors will be negative. However, if you get rid of the negative and replace it with positive thinking, positive attitude, actions, and behaviors will follow.
A trait we all share as humans is that we all have negative voices or tapes rolling in our heads at different times. Often these originate in our childhood but new verses can be added at any time throughout life. One of the keys to successful thinking is learning to silence these negative thoughts and turn them into positive ones. We have to get rid of the “stinkin’ thinkin’” to make room for positive thoughts.
And remember as Tony Robbins likes to say, “Where focus goes, energy flows.”
3. Focus On and Cultivate the Positive
You have the power to accept or reject thoughts that come to your mind. Choosing to reject the negative and accept the positive takes practice but the results will astound you. Instead of just letting your mind wander, take control of your mind by focusing on good thoughts. The Bible has this to say about our thoughts in Philippians 4:8, “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, THINK about these things.”
There is an old saying which says, “You cannot keep birds from flying over your head but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.” These words were spoken by Martin Luther, a theologian from the Reformation era in the early 1500s. I believe this relates directly to our minds and our thoughts. You cannot keep negative thoughts from occurring to you, but you can decide that you will not allow them to take root.
4. Renew Your Mind
As you travel through life, new situations and circumstances will continue to come at you. This cycle of life will continue to attempt to throw you off course. That’s why it is so important to keep the positive cycle going by renewing your mind. In Romans 12:2 it says, “Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing and perfect will of God.”
The pattern of this world is wrapped up in negative thinking. How many people do you know who struggle every day with depression? Because the numbers are so high, most of us know someone who has taken their own life. Our minds are complex and powerful and our thoughts control our feelings which in turn cause our actions and behaviors.
There are many ways to renew your mind including prayer, meditation, singing, reading, exercising, writing, good conversation. The list could go on and on. The important thing is to discover what works for you and do that. Then keep doing it to continue a positive cycle. Fill your mind with good thoughts and you will have good feelings followed by good actions and behaviors. Choose the positive instead of the negative and you will find success.