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

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

Who Do You Think You Are?

BeliefsWho you think you are has more to do with the way you behave than you realize. That’s really the key – who you really believe you are. If you really believe you are a failure, if you believe you are bad at math, if you believe you are a poor public speaker – those beliefs manifest themselves in your actions. You become no more than what you believe you are.

Putting on a pair of glasses

What if I told you that you could take your beliefs and change them in the same way that you can take off a pair of glasses and put on another pair of glasses. When you put on another pair of glasses, let’s say a pair of sunglasses, you see everything differently – EVERYTHING! Now what you see, you see through the lenses of those glasses.

Your beliefs are the same way. Everything you do or every decision you make goes through the lens of your beliefs. If you believe that you’re a failure or you believe that you’re this kind of person or that kind of person, then no matter what, you are always seeing yourself through that lens. What you need to do is change the lens of your beliefs – the beliefs of who you are.

Removing doubts and fears

Some people look at hypnosis and they think that it’s some kind of trick, that it’s a farce. They think that the people are faking it. They don’t believe in hypnosis. But, hypnosis really does work. It’s a very simple thing. It doesn’t give anyone any special abilities or allow them to do anything that they don’t already know how to do. When a hypnotist hypnotizes someone and causes, for example, someone who stutters to give an eloquent speech, or causes someone who is afraid of heights to walk across a beam laid across two ladders, or someone who can’t sing to sing a beautiful song – the hypnotist is not giving these people these abilities, these abilities already existed in these people. The only thing the hypnotist is doing is removing their doubts that they can do these things. He’s removing their doubts so that they totally believe they can do it. That’s all hypnosis is. It is removing all inhibitions, doubt and fear that you can do something. The things that people do under hypnosis are things they already have the ability to do, but just don’t believe they can.

What are your beliefs?

I want you to think about that concept and think about your own life and think about the things that you continually fail at or that you continually can’t do or can’t accomplish. Is it because you don’t have the ability or is it because you simply believe deep down inside that you can’t do it, that you are not that kind of a person?

For example, there are people who all their lives have told themselves, “I’m not a runner, I can’t run, I hate running. It’s painful.” And they have never been able to run because they have told themselves that they are not a runner. That’s their belief. Well, there are some of these people who have had this belief all their life and have changed their belief. They began running and began training and got past that belief and suddenly realized that people aren’t runners or not runners and that you weren’t born into this world a runner and some people not runners. It’s all in your mind. It’s all what you believe.

These very same people who all their lives believed that they were not runners have been able to run marathons. Think about it! Suddenly they realized that they were a runner. They look at themselves now as a runner. It’s now a part of their being. It’s now a part of who they are. And now that they see themselves as a runner, they can RUN! And now that they believe that it’s enjoyable, they enjoy it!

What I’m trying to tell you here is that you need to change your beliefs about who you are. Not just parts of who you are but your entire being. Let’s go back to the glasses example. Think about it again. Let’s review it again. If you put on a pair of rose colored glasses, everything you see in this world is rose colored. No matter what it is that you see you see it through those rose colored glasses.

Who do you think you are?

I want you to take this example and think about who you are. Let’s say that you believe that you are a failure or that you are never going to be successful, that you are never going to accomplish the things in life that you want to accomplish. You have desires but your beliefs are not there. So, everything you do you see through those beliefs – the beliefs that you are a failure and no matter how hard you try you’re always seeing it through the “failure” lenses.

If you can understand this concept you can begin to identify your false beliefs about yourself and begin to change them. Put your false beliefs away and begin to see yourself as the person you desire to become. By changing your beliefs you can experience dramatic changes in your life.

Copyright © 2014 Gary N. Larson

We Hear What We Listen For

Alarm ClockGood morning! Today I want to talk about an interesting phenomenon that actually happened this morning. It has to do with your mind’s ability to block out what it’s not interested in and only let in what it is trained to let in.

What brought this up was what happened this morning when my alarm went off. I have to admit that I hit the snooze button and jumped back in bed to sleep for 10 more minutes. I actually set my alarm 10 minutes earlier than when I plan to get up. So I lay back in bed and slept a little longer. When my alarm went off again and when I woke up I noticed that my wife was already out of bed. She wasn’t there. She had already gotten up to go wake the boys so they could do their paper route.

I thought it was interesting that I didn’t hear her alarm at all. We both have alarm clocks. They are very similar. They each have a red digital readout and their alarms sound very similar. It’s that annoying beep beep beep sound that today’s alarm clocks typically make. The sounds of the two alarm clocks aren’t that different really. They aren’t exactly the same but very similar. I thought it was interesting that my mind, my brain, is trained to hear my alarm clock and not hers. Her alarm didn’t wake me up but mine did. I thought it was interesting that I hear mine but I don’t hear hers. How can that be?

It makes you wonder about what else in life we don’t see or hear because of what our minds have been trained to see or hear. There is a story I once heard that helps us understand this phenomenon.

WE HEAR WHAT WE LISTEN FOR

Two men were walking along a crowded sidewalk in a downtown business area. Suddenly one exclaimed: ‘Listen to the lovely sound of that cricket.’ But the other could not hear. He asked his companion how he could detect the sound of a cricket amid the din of people and traffic. The first man, who was a zoologist, had trained himself to listen to the voices of nature. But he didn’t explain. He simply took a coin out of his pocket and dropped it to the sidewalk, whereupon a dozen people began to look about them. ‘We hear,’ he said, ‘what we listen for.’ –Kermit L. Long, taken from ‘The Three Boxes of Life,’ by Richard Bolles

We hear what we listen for. What are our minds trained to hear? What are out eyes trained to see? What are we conscious of and what are we unconscious of? What are we paying attention to and what are we not paying attention to?

I have read many times about a function of the brain called the RAS. It stands for the Reticular Activating System. Basically it’s what filters things in our brain. It’s what determines what you notice and what you don’t notice. The example that’s usually given, and it’s a great example because many of us have experienced it, is when you purchase a new car. Suddenly you begin to see that car all around you. You never noticed those cars before but now that you own one it’s on your mind, it’s what’s important to you. It’s not that these cars didn’t exist before, it’s just that you didn’t notice them.

I remember years ago I re-roofed my house. I did it myself and it was a huge project for me to do. It was interesting that during the weeks I was involved in that project, everywhere I drove, I noticed roofs. I never noticed roofs before. But since I was heavily involved in it that’s what I noticed. I think I knew everybody’s roof in the neighborhood, what condition it was in and what color it was, because that’s what I paid attention to. To me that was very interesting that suddenly I paid attention to everybody’s roof.

The down side to this is that by focusing your attention on one thing, in reality you are deleting everything else that your mind and body it receiving inputs from – sights, smells, sounds. So what are you deleting in your life? Is it good or is it bad? I think it can be both ways. If your mind let everything in you would be overwhelmed by the amount of information that would be flowing into your brain. You have to have a way of filtering it so that only those things that are important to you really register and make a difference. But we have to be careful not to be so focused on things that other important things get deleted out of our awareness and out of our lives.

So my message for today is to be aware of what you’re not being aware of, pay attention to what you’re not paying attention to. Make sure that we’re not leaving out the important things in life that we should be paying attention to.

Thank you.

Copyright © 2014 Gary N. Larson

Focus On You, Not Your Problem

Focus

What if I could show you a way to overcome the biggest obstacles in your life that was totally different than the advice you get everywhere else – and what if it really worked? I’m talking about obstacles such as smoking, drinking, anger, overeating, staying up too late, bad relationships or even drug and pornography addictions. Think for a moment about the biggest obstacle that is holding you back in your life. Think about how you’ve been dealing with it. What I want to present today is a better approach to eliminating it from your life.

In order for me to more clearly explain this I want to use a visual example.

The Trail of Life

Obstacle1

Picture yourself walking down a trail (which is exactly what I happen to be doing right now as I record this.) You are walking along a path. This path is your life. You are walking along the trail of life. As you move forward along this trail of life you are progressing and moving forward in your life. A simple analogy.

The Obstacle in Your Path

Now you are going along your merry way and you come across a huge boulder in the trail. It covers the entire path and blocks your way. You can’t go any further. It’s a huge obstacle in your way. You look at the boulder and you think, “How am I going to deal with this? I’ve got to somehow get it out of my way.”

Focusing On Your Obstacle Doesn’t Work

You try pushing on the boulder. You put your back up against it and push with your feet and it doesn’t budge. You run at it and hit it with your shoulder and it doesn’t move. You try to go around it but it’s so big you can’t get around it. You try to climb over it but it’s just too tall. You try to dig under it. You get down on your knees and try to dig with your hands. You scratch and scrape and dig in the hard ground and you make very little progress. You work and work on that boulder and try every way possible to get rid of it and no matter what you do you fail. The more you work on this boulder the more frustrated you get, the more tired you get, the more discouraged you get. It just can’t be done.

Finally you sit down on the trail because you feel like giving up. You think, “What am I going to do? I try and try to get this boulder out of my way and no matter what I do I can’t seem to overcome it.” It’s extremely discouraging and frustrating to you.

The boulder represents the biggest struggle or obstacle you face in your life. This is the thing that’s holding you back the most in your life. You have tried and tried and struggled for years to get rid of this problem from your life with no success.

Change Your Focus

The big revelation here is that you’ve been focusing on the wrong thing. You’ve been putting all of your time and energy and attention into your problem. Strange as it may be, that’s the wrong place to put it.

Obstacle2

I’ve had the opportunity to meet with a number of people who have come to me for counsel with huge issues and problems in their lives that they have struggled with for months and years. Generally this is the case: they have put all their focus and energy on the problem. Usually I will take out a sheet of paper and draw a simple picture of them on the trail with the big rock that stands in their way. I tell them that their focus and energy has been on the wrong thing, on their problem. I then draw a big arrow pointing at the problem.

Work On You, Not Your Problem

Then I draw another arrow pointing at them and say, “This is where you need to be focusing, not on your problem but on yourself.” For most people this is an entirely new concept, something they have never considered. It is the idea that they need to worry and focus on themselves, not their problem.

What does this mean?

Let’s say you are trying to quit smoking. Normally you put all of your efforts into trying not to smoke. You get rid of your cigarettes and you get the nicotine patch and you do the typical things people do to try to quit smoking. It’s constantly on your mind as you try to overcome your smoking habit.

Let’s say it’s overeating. That’s a fairly common one. You struggle so hard to not eat bad foods. You have a long list of the foods you shouldn’t eat and you try everything possible to conquer your habit of overeating.

What I say is that it doesn’t work. What you need to do is focus on strengthening the character traits in yourself that are incompatible with your habit or problem.

In the case of overeating, instead of focusing on not eating certain foods, your focus and energy would be on yourself as far as eating healthy food and exercising. Your focus would be on yourself as a fit and healthy person, instead of focusing on what you don’t want. You get your mind off the boulder and onto yourself.

Obstacle3

Picture in your mind the visual image of you on the trail with the obstacle in your path – the obstacle doesn’t change, you do! You grow! You become large. Compared to you, your obstacle is tiny! It’s not an issue any more because you simply step over it and go on your way. You never even deal directly with the problem because it is now so insignificant. You’ve grown and strengthened yourself so much in that particular area that it’s no longer a problem for you.

Does it Really Work?

You may be wondering if this method really works. Let me share with you a story that happened recently. I was working with a young man who was struggling with pornography. He hated it. He wanted to be free of the temptations and had struggled for some time on his own to stop. Each time he gave-in to temptation he would tell himself, “I’m never going to do that again” only to have it happen again in a few days. He failed because he focused on the problem.

As I worked with him I drew on a chalkboard the picture of the person on the trail with the big obstacle in the way. I told him to quit worrying about his problem and start working on himself.

We came up with some ways that he could strengthen himself spiritually. He determined that he would sincerely pray and read scriptures every day. He also decided to be nicer to his family and just be a better person.

For a number of weeks he worked at this and would report back to me from time to time. Several days ago we met again. He told me that when we began this program the temptations would still come back from time to time. Then he told me that for the last few weeks the temptations were totally gone. He said they never even crossed his mind. He said, “I never even thought about not thinking about it. It was just totally gone.” You should have seen the big smile on his face as he left my office.

My Challenge to You

I would like to challenge you to try this. Determine what is the biggest obstacle you face in your life. What is the thing that holds you back the most? How have you dealt with it? Have you put all your energy into fighting this obstacle directly? If so, I challenge you to change your focus and work on yourself. Make yourself bigger and stronger in the character traits that are incompatible with your obstacle. Work on those every day. Grow yourself to the point where all you need to do is step over your obstacle and continue on you path in life. May you succeed as I have seen many others succeed.

What are your thoughts on dealing with the obstacles your face? What methods have you used to combat these obstacles and have you met with success? Please share your thoughts and/ or experiences in the comments below.

Copyright © 2014 Gary N. Larson