Outside Changes Start Within

Thinker“If you always do what you’ve always done you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” -Unknown

If you look at your life and things are still the same as they’ve always been despite your efforts to change, there is a good reason. You are most likely trying to change the effect without changing the cause.

It’s like treating a cold with the typical over-the-counter cold medicine. It may relieve the symptoms for a while but the cold is still there. To make lasting changes in your life you must work on the root causes.

Henry David Thoreau, 19th century naturalist, wrote these words.

“There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.”

Looking for love in all the wrong places

Have you ever noticed that some people seem to be miserable and unhappy no matter what? I know a woman who has been divorced several times. She goes from one relationship to another and always ends up getting hurt. The guy always turns out to be a dreadful twit.

I know a man who has had so many jobs I can’t even count them. He goes from one job to another and is never happy with where he is currently working. The standard reason he always gives for leaving his last job is because the boss was a big jerk.

There are other people who are never happy with where they are living. They are constantly on the move, looking for happiness and success in the next town.

The problem with these people is they are trying to solve their problems by changing the symptoms and not striking at the root of their problems.

Your mind creates the world you live in

So what is the root of their problems? In each case the roots are different but they all reside within the mind of the individual. The mind must change first. If your mind stays the same it will continue to produce the same results that you have always got. You can change your environment, your spouse, your job or your home but if your mind remains the same you will create the same problems over and over again.

Change your thoughts, change your world

So what can you do? You don’t want to go through life never being able to change yourself or your circumstances. The answer lies in you becoming aware of your thoughts. The creative force of your mind brought about the world you live in. You are responsible for your life through the thoughts that you entertain on a daily basis. You are the one placing limitations on yourself that are holding you back.

If you have the power to create a miserable world then it stands to reason that you have the power to create a happy world.

“Good thoughts bear good fruit, bad thoughts bear bad fruits and man is his own gardener.” –James Allen

As ye sow, so shall ye reap

You are the master gardener of your thoughts. The fruit it produces is the life you live every day. You must guard every thought that enters your mind and determine if it should be there. You need to constantly entertain thoughts that invite positive and good into your life. You must be aware of all the negative influences that enter your life, be it the media, friends, music, or the internet and only allow those in that you invite.

You are the sower of the seeds your life. What are you sowing?

Thank you.

Master Yourself, Master Your Life

Copyright © 2014 Gary N. Larson

Kill the Monster When It’s a Baby

Kill the monster when it's a baby.

I’m going to teach you about killing babies – monster babies that is. Let me explain. I was thinking about the idea that we don’t perform any act or do anything without thinking about it first. A thought has to enter our mind before we ever do anything. Sometimes we purposely think thoughts and other times we could be minding our own business and a thought will just pop into our head without our invitation. But the point being that you don’t act without first thinking about it. So if we can eliminate the thought in the first place then we will never perform the action.

Our negative or bad thoughts are like monsters. They begin small but tend to grow until they can nearly destroy us. It’s much easier to kill these monsters when they are babies than when they are fully grown.

The Plan

So here’s the plan. Think about the negative action or habit you want to get rid of. Then determine what negative thought or thoughts precede that action or habit. Then you take some money, say $50 or $100 and you go to the bank and you exchange it for one-dollar bills. Every day that you go the entire day without dwelling upon the negative thought – meaning every time the thought comes to you, and you immediately get rid of it, you take one dollar and put it into a jar or a bank or envelope. So, you have a stack of $1 bills and every day that you are successful you take one dollar and put it in your jar. The idea is that after five days of not dwelling on the chosen negative or bad thought then you should have five one-dollar bills in your jar.

Now, if you mess up one day and actually dwell upon the thought then you must give the money away. I’m not even talking about performing the negative act itself. I’m just talking about dwelling upon the thought. If you do that then you have failed for that day and then all the money you have in the jar you have to give away – either to charity or the beggar on the street or anybody – you must give it away.

Set a Goal

So you set yourself a goal, a small goal at first, say thirty days. You want to go thirty days and every time that you complete a day without dwelling on the negative thought then you add a dollar to your jar. Then after thirty days you can take that money and reward yourself and splurge and buy yourself anything you want. Now that’s not a lot of money but then the next goal will be sixty days. So you keep increasing your goal like that. The idea is to train your mind so that whenever the bad thoughts come into your mind, from whatever source, you immediately remove it, get rid of it.

The beauty of all of this is this: most people decide to stop a certain negative behavior or action when they’re almost in the middle of it and at that point it’s usually too late. It’s like you’ve slid down a slippery slope and your are sliding so fast and the slope is getting steeper that it’s almost impossible to stop and turn and climb back up. The idea is to stop yourself before you even get close to the edge of that slope – to deal with the problem when it’s easy. So the beauty of all this is that you never have to deal with this great and terrible temptation because you never even get to that point. I have seen this work with myself and it’s almost like magic.

You might say to yourself, “This could cost me a lot of money!” Yes, it could. But its much cheaper than going to counseling. Ask yourself how much its worth to you to be rid of this habit. I guarantee that if you put this plan in place you will be amazed at the results. It really does train your brain. So, go out and kill some babies – monster babies.

Copyright © 2014 Gary N. Larson

The Art of Learning from Our Mistakes

weallmakemistakes.jpgMaking mistakes – yeah, I’ve got it down to an art form. Now if I can make learning from my mistakes an art form that would be something. No promises here but some simple observations about mistakes and how we can learn from them.

Last week I had made the plan to attend an important event early on Friday morning. When I mean early I mean 6 a.m. early! In order for me to be there I would need to get up by 4:30 in the morning, get ready and leave my home by 5:30 to be to the event by 6:00. I’ve done it before and knew what I needed to do to be there.

Well, guess what, I blew it! I didn’t make it and was deeply disappointed in myself. I did what any normal person would do and beat myself up mentally. That’s fine but if I’m going to learn anything from this I’ve got to do more than just mentally beat myself up. I’ve got to analyze the situation, see what I did wrong and then change my ways.

So what went wrong? My big mistake was that I didn’t think or plan ahead. The mistake that I made was deciding to go to a movie the night before. My wife and son pressured me into it. (Placing blame here!) It was a 7:30 p.m. movie that was nearly 3 hours long. When all was said and done I didn’t get to bed until 11:30 p.m. I knew when I went to bed that I was never going make it up by 4:30 a.m. I had already blown it.

My point isn’t necessarily the missing of the event. The point is that we learn from our mistakes. When something goes wrong or something goes haywire and things don’t turn out the way that you planned, look at the situation and figure out why. Analyze it and see what you could have done differently. Why did you mess up? In my particular situation, what happened was that I didn’t think ahead. I went ahead and said, “Yeah, let’s go to a movie.” I should have thought it through and realized that going to a movie at 7:30 in the evening was going to put me to bed too late at night to be able to get up as early as I needed to. So the next time I plan on being somewhere very early in the morning I’ve got to make sure that whatever I do the night before I do early enough that I will get home on time so I can get to bed on time.

There is a great little story I read years ago that fits perfectly here:

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters
By Portia Nelson

Chapter One
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost…I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter Two
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend that I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in this same place.
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter Three
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep whole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in…it’s a habit…but,
My eyes are open
I know where I am
It is my fault.
I get out immediately,

Chapter Four
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter Five
I walk down another street.

The point is that when something goes wrong in our lives, when we mess up, when we falter, that we look at the situation and analyze it and then make a change. If we are not learning from our mistakes we will keep falling in the same hole.

Thank you.

What Are You Focusing On?

subconsciousI talked earlier about the concept of Threshold, of reaching a boiling point in your life, of hitting rock bottom and realizing you need to change. But after that, then what? Where do you go from there? Many people have reached that point and they say, “I’m going to make a change, I’m going to turn over a new leaf.” But, you know, they go to bed, they get up the next day, and life goes on and nothing really changes. Well, that’s a good point. Where do you go from there?

Focus on what you want, not on what you don’t want

I think many times we focus on the bad habit or behavior that we want to change and that’s where our mind is, that’s where our attention is, that’s where the vision is, the pictures that we have in our mind. Now I’ll go back to the example of the person who overeats. You know they say, “I’ve got to change, I’ve got to go on a diet, I’ve got to quit eating the food.” They put all of their focus on not eating and they are constantly thinking about food, saying things to themselves like; “I can’t eat the chips and salsa. I can’t eat the chocolate cake in the fridge. I’ve got to count calories.” Their whole focus is all on food, and not eating the food.

Dominant thoughts

The problem is, the picture that you have in your mind when you’re in this mode is of food and your mind draws toward what you have pictures of in your head. Let me rephrase that, not your mind, but whatever pictures you have in your mind; that’s what you’re drawn towards. The person who wants to quit swearing for example, if he’s just constantly telling himself, “I’m not going to swear, I’m not going to swear.” The thoughts in his mind are all about swearing.
The focus can’t be on what it is your trying to stop. It’s got to be on the behavior you’re going to replace it with. So for the person who wants to change the way they look, their physical appearance, their health, they shouldn’t be focusing on not eating food. They should be focusing on what they’re going to look like in six months or a year down the road-what kind of lifestyle are they going to have? It’s got to be a lifestyle change.

“See” what you want

They can’t say, “I’m going to stop eating food for the next ten days” or “I’m going to stop eating until I’m down to a certain weight and then resume my regular lifestyle.” That’s not going to work. You’ve got to see in your mind who you’re going to become. And then once you decide what kind of life you’re going to lead, are you going to be a biker, a runner, are you going to get up and do aerobics, kick boxing, whatever it is, you need to see pictures of yourself in good health, pictures of yourself in your mind having the body, the physique that you want, looking the way you want and then move towards that picture.

Suddenly you start to make changes in your life because your current behavior is incompatible with the way you see yourself. You need to start looking, acting, walking, and talking like that person.

Now that is focusing on a small part of your entire self, your physical body. You can bring this up to even a higher level and see yourself as a completely different person, a person you have described and envisioned in every detail, the real “you” deep inside of you. You begin to change every aspect of your life. It all begins with what you are focusing your mind on on a regular basis. So be aware of your thoughts, be aware of the images and pictures you have in your mind because whatever your dominant thought is, that is what you will create in your life.

Copyright © 2014 Gary N. Larson

Self-Image, the Catalyst for Change

What can you become?

Let’s talk about the topic of self-image and how it relates to personal change. Everyone has a concept of themselves – a self-image. You hear somebody say, “I’m just not good at math” or “I’m just not a runner” or “I’m just not musically inclined” or “I can’t sing.” You hear them describe themselves in these kinds of terms. Where did they get those ideas? Who told them these things? How do they know they can’t sing or they can’t run or they can’t do this or that? Where did they learn these things?

We get so convinced of these ideas that we believe them and that becomes who we are. This can happen even in the positive sense. We hear someone say, “Oh, I’ve always been good at art” or “I’m a creative person, I’ve always been a creative person.” How did we get those beliefs in the first place? How did those beliefs get installed in our mind?

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that we do come to this earth with a package of personality traits and talents. Yes, there are certain attributes and strengths that make us unique as an individual. But I believe many of the strengths and weaknesses that we believe we have are self-created, that they were given to us or programmed in us either by our upbringing, or by the people we’ve associated with or by our personal experiences.

We try something once and fail and make a decision in our mind that we’re not good at that. We say things like “I just wasn’t cut out for public speaking” or “I’m just not good at football” or “I’m just not a sports-type person.” We tell ourselves this enough times that we believe it. I feel that the majority of those kinds of ideas are self-created and anything that is self-created can be changed.

Rather than have these beliefs created by default, we can create our own beliefs and concepts about our self. We can stop telling ourselves “I’m not good at this” or “I’m not good at that” and say “yes, I am a creative person, I’m an athletic person, I’m a health nut, I’m a good person, I’m a patient person” instead of “Oh, yeah, I have a bad temper” or “yeah, I’ve always had a weakness for chocolate.” I say baloney! You can change those things and it all has to do with your self-image, what you believe about yourself. That’s what your self-image is and it has a HUGE impact on what you CAN and CANNOT do!

Have you ever been to a hypnosis show where a hypnotist hypnotizes certain members of the audience and they do things they normally would not do such as belt out a popular song or sing opera? Well, this person has never sung opera before or at least never attempted it. How is it now that they are able to sing opera? Does the hypnotist have some magic ability to impart to this person some special talent? No! Anything you see somebody do in a hypnotist show is something that person already had the ability to do but just does not believe it. The only thing a hypnotist does is take away their unbelief and take away their fear and that is how they perform those things. The stutterer begins to speak normally. A shy person becomes extremely friendly and bubbly and able to carry on a conversation.

So when we see people in a hypnotist type show like that do things that they wouldn’t normally do, it is simply because the hypnotist has taken away their fear, has taken away their negative beliefs about themselves. The things you see them do, they already know how to do. They already are able to do them. It’s just that their beliefs limit them. The hypnotist just removes those negative beliefs about themselves and allows them to do the things that they really can do in the first place.

Exercise: Write Down a Description of Your Present and Future Self

Every one of us has these kind of incorrect, wrong beliefs about ourselves. If you sat down and just described yourself right now and wrote down a list of all the attributes about you, the positive and negative, what would you write down? “Oh I’m good at this, I’m not good at that, I’m this kind of person, I’m that kind of person.” Well, I think it’s worth it to sit down and do that. Describe yourself. What makes you you? Describe everything about you: your weaknesses, your strengths, your talents, your limitations, the things you’re good at, the things you’re not good at. Make a list.

Now examine that list and realize that most of what’s on that list is incorrect. Most of what’s on that list was created in your own mind as you grew up. These are programs or thoughts or beliefs that were given to you in one way or another, either by those that you associate with, your family, your friends or your personal experiences and you made decisions along the way about what kind of a person you are.

So examine that list. Now on another sheet of paper write another list of how you would like to be, the attributes, the strengths, the things you would like to have in your life. Now look at those two lists and realize that you have the power within you right now to reprogram your mind, to remove those negative beliefs and influences and to install positive beliefs about yourself.

You Can Change Your Self-Image

This whole list business has to do with self-image, of what you believe about yourself. It’s incredible how powerful that is. If you can realize that you can change those beliefs then you can make a huge change in your life about what kind of a person you are. You no longer need to believe that you are an overweight person, that you’re not an athletic person or a healthy person. That’s a bunch of baloney. It is, especially when you say you have certain weaknesses. Well, you have the same brain as anyone else, the same biological makeup as anyone else. It’s just that you have had things programmed into your mind that take you in certain directions when certain conditions exist.

It’s like the path or the trail that your mind follows when you encounter certain conditions. You can change that path. You can block the old path. A path not used will soon become overgrown. You can erase the old path and create a new path and part of doing that is changing the beliefs about yourself.

I have experienced this in my own life when I have actually made a concerted effort to see myself as another person that had admired. I forced myself, everyday, to say that “today I am going to think, act, walk and talk like that person.” There was a particular person that I admired at that time and it truly was amazing how my behavior changed throughout the day, how certain things never even came up as a temptation to me, how my mind went in certain directions that I normally wouldn’t go and my thoughts and my abilities had changed. That has to do with your self-image or your self-identity, who you believe or think you are in your mind. It’s a very powerful thing.

So the whole idea or thought or thrust about this self-image thing is that you really need to concentrate on your self-concept, what you believe about yourself and realize that if you have old, negative beliefs, you can change those beliefs. You don’t have to believe those things. You can begin telling yourself that, “I am a healthy person. I am a creative person, a musical person. I can sing. I can do this or do that,” whatever it is that you felt in the past that you couldn’t do or did not have the ability or talents to do. Realize that most of that is self-created and most of that can be changed. You have the power within you, so use it!

Copyright © 2014 Gary N. Larson

How to Use Emotional Connections to Influence Others

PersonalityWe Are Emotional Beings

You need to understand one basic trait of human beings and it is this:

Humans are not logical creatures.

People don’t usually base their actions and decisions on logic. We humans are more influenced by emotion than reason or good judgment. Our emotions are what drive us. We are emotional beings much more so than logical beings.

Being emotional beings, we want our emotions fed. It is amazing what people will do to satisfy their emotional needs with little regard to logic. When you see people doing things that looks incredibly stupid, they are generally doing it to fill an emotional need. When you watch the evening news or pick up the newspaper you will come across story after story of people doing what appear to be strange and illogical things such as bank robberies, car chases, drug use, embezzlement and every other kind of crazy thing. All of these people are doing these things to fulfill unmet emotional needs.

How Can This Help?

How does knowing this help you? Let’s think about it. If you are trying to influence someone and the only tool you are using is logic, in nearly every case you will fail. However, when you have an emotional connection with that person, even the weakest of logical arguments can succeed. If you can connect with someone emotionally then your power to influence them is vastly improved.

Making Emotional Connections

So how do you make emotional connections with people? There are a number of ways. Let’s talk about one powerful one. The more you know about someone, the more you will be able to connect with them emotionally and therefore you are able to influence them.

By taking the time to learn about another person you gain two things. First it helps you understand that person; where they are coming from and what makes them tick. Secondly, it lets them know that you care about them and are interested in them.

For example, imagine a person you only casually know who comes up to you and calls you by name and asks about the details of your life that aren’t generally known. You can’t help but be impressed and flattered. When they ask you about your job or your family or your hobbies and interests, it’s obvious they have taken an interest in you. You look at that person in a different light. You feel a connection with that person.

My Challenge to You

This is my challenge to you. Think about the people you must deal with and those you need to influence. This could be your boss at work, your spouse, your children, your neighbor or your banker. What I want you to do is play the role of private investigator and begin to learn all you can about that person – details that the average person wouldn’t know. Write them down. Create a file on them if you have to. Do they play tennis? Do they have children? What are their names? What does this person do in his or her leisure time? Where did they attend high school or college?

Then the next time you are with them you can use this information to build that emotional connection. Ask about their children by name. “How is Jennifer enjoying being a cheerleader?” or “How is Jonny doing with Little League baseball?” You will be amazed how they will light up when you talk about their interests.

What it does is build up an emotional connection between you and them. Then when it comes time that you need their assistance or you need to influence them in some way, you will have a much easier time of it.

We All Have the Need

We all have an incredible need to be validated emotionally. We want to fit in, to belong, to be liked. When someone fills those needs we are much more willing to accept their ideas. We are more willing to trust them and want to please them, and yes, even be influenced by them.