Look Ahead and Never Look Back

lookahead

I’m actually running on a trail right now as I tape-record my thoughts. It’s interesting that while you’re running along a trail you’re brain has the ability to look ahead and then plan where to place each foot. This seems to happen as an automatic function of the brain. I look ahead on the trail and take in what’s coming, whether it’s a rock or a stump or a curve in the trail. My brain processes that information and tells my body where to place my feet. I don’t have to think about every footstep. It’s an amazing process to me of how, by looking ahead, I know where to put my feet on the trail.

Yes, I’ve slipped up a couple of times and made some mistakes. It usually happens when I take my eyes off the trail and look in some other direction. My brain had insufficient information to tell my feet where to go; therefore I stumble and sometimes fall.

Can we relate this to life? I think so. We can’t just concentrate on what we are doing at the moment. We need to look ahead in our lives and see what’s coming and plan for it so when the time comes we’re ready. We need to process the information ahead of time so when the time comes we already know where to put our feet. The idea or concept is that of making future plans.

I like the idea and have seen benefits of sitting down on Monday morning and looking at my whole week, seeing what’s going on each day and thinking about it and planning ahead. If I see a presentation coming up on Thursday I know I can’t start on that presentation on Thursday. I’ve got to begin preparing and working on it ahead of time.

In this way I think trail running is like life. We need to look ahead and plan in advance in order for our feet to be planted properly in the here and now. You’re todays will go much better when you look ahead at your tomorrows.

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

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

Overcoming Self-Criticism

Self-CriticismWhen you look in the mirror are you happy with who you see? If you are like most people you will tend to see your own faults over your qualities. It’s amazing how critical and judgmental we can be with ourselves. It can suck the vitality and energy out of our life if we are constantly chipping away at who we are. It’s like trying to blow up a balloon with a pin hole in it. It takes constant effort. Our incessant internal criticism and judgment deflates our self-esteem faster than we can fill it.

A certain amount of self-analysis is good and healthy. If not, we would never make any improvements in our lives. We need to examine ourselves from time to time and determine the areas we need to improve on. However, this can be overdone to the point of being hyper-critical and counter-productive. You become your own judge, jury and jailer.

What are the causes of Self-Criticism?

1. Comparing ourselves with others. We are great at putting ourselves down because we know ourselves the best. We are intimately and painfully aware of each of our faults. The trouble is, when we look at others we tend to see the polished and refined exterior and are unaware of the flaws and internal conflicts that they battle with each day. We tend to compare the worst in ourselves with the best in others. We can never win that game.

2. Unrealistic expectations of ourselves. It’s good to set goals and strive to make improvements in our lives. We should strive for excellence. However, some of us mistake perfection for excellence. When the goals we set are so high and out of reach for the average human being then we set ourselves up for failure.

3. Not realizing life is a process. Journeys are accomplished one step at a time. Bodies are grown one cell at a time. Buildings are built one brick at a time. These are all processes that are accomplished in a gradual, procedural way.

Imagine driving by a building under construction. What do you see? Half-built walls, pallets of bricks, scaffolding, unpainted surfaces, weeds and debris – it’s not a pretty sight. Imagine criticizing the building because of these flaws. That would be unreasonable because we know it isn’t finished yet. It’s under construction. Yet we fail to consider that our lives are not finished yet either. We are still under construction. Of course everything isn’t in perfect order yet. We are still in the middle of this process called “Life.”

What are the consequences of Self-Criticism?

1. Incorrect vision of ourselves. When we continually focus on our flaws and imperfections we get to the point of identifying ourselves as our flaws and imperfections. That’s who we become in our mind. Instead of thinking “I have a weight problem” we instead think “I’m fat.” It becomes who we are.

2. The “Why Try?” attitude. Since we identify ourselves with our defects and believe that’s who we are, then we feel like “what’s the use” in trying to change since that’s “just the way I am.” If you see yourself as a zebra then why try to change your stripes. It’s simply who you are.

3. Saps energy. It takes energy and effort to be constantly judging ourselves. Experiencing discouragement and disappointment in ourselves is like dragging around a heavy weight. It wears on you and drains your energy.

How can we overcome Self-Criticism?

1. Pay attention to what’s going on in your head. Make an effort throughout the day to be aware of how you talk to yourself in your mind. What are you saying?

“I’m such a loser”
“I’m so ugly”
“I never have enough money”
“I’m so fat”
“I’m such an idiot”

Be aware of these negative jabs at yourself and rein them in. Take control of your thoughts and shut down the negative ones.

2. Lower your unrealistic expectations. Give yourself a break. It’s okay if you’re not perfect. You’re not done yet. You’re still under construction as a person. I’m not talking about lowering your personal convictions or your personal moral standards – just your unrealistic expectations of yourself.

3. Focus on your good points. Start noticing what you are doing right. Focus on the positive things you accomplish every day. Make a list of all the things you are doing well and give yourself a pat on the back. Notice even small steps of forward progress.

T.S. Eliot wrote:

What is this self inside us, this silent observer,
Severe and speechless critic, who can terrorize us
And urge us on to futile activity
And in the end, judge us still more severely
For the errors into which his own reproaches drove us?

When you truly overcome self-criticism you free your mind and energy to move forward in your life. You are not stuck in Paralysis by Analysis. You become at peace with who you are and where you are headed. Remember, there is only one person in the world that you are compelled to live with – and that is with yourself. It’s best you both get along!

Thank you.

Copyright © 2013 Gary N. Larson

Be Good to Yourself

Take care of yourself

There are some people who go to extraordinary lengths to take care of their car. They wash it, they wax it, they keep it tuned, they get it serviced on a regular basis and they keep everything in perfect working order. They have meticulous records of every oil change and rotation of the tires. Yet these same people neglect a much more important piece of machinery – themselves.

We see people all around us plodding along, making mediocre attempts in their jobs and their relationships. They are crippled in their attempts at success because the energy has gone out of their lives. When obstacles arise they don’t have the strength to rise above them. They are easily defeated. They go through life only half-awake!

When you burn a candle at both ends you will eventually get burned. Don’t squander and abuse the most incredible instrument you have – your body. Give it the care and attention it needs.

Shouldn’t our great aim in life be to preserve and keep our physical bodies in the best possible condition so we can experience and live life to its fullest? Why not make every occasion a great occasion? If this life is worth living then isn’t it worth living well?

In order to live life to its fullest we need to take care of ourselves both mentally and physically. “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” What you think about yourself is manifested in your life and pictured in your body. If you are to make the most of yourself then you should never picture yourself as anything other than what you would actually want to be. See yourself as the person you wish to become. Your thoughts and actions are manifested in your body.

Everywhere you go you find people who are half-alive and barely awake. They resemble walking zombies rather than fully charged human beings. The world is full of them. They are the products of physical self-abuse and wrong thinking. They commit emotional suicide by killing every chance they have in life through neglect of their mind and body.

The saddest thing is to have an opportunity come our way and not be able to take advantage of it. Life passes us by because we aren’t ready to live it. We’re bogged down by poor health, fatigue, exhaustion and weariness. We’ve abused the instrument with which we live life with. When the conductor raises his baton, we are unable to join in the symphony. Our talents and gifts go unused. We are silent.

Too many of us overtax our strength and energy by pushing too hard. We live in an X-Treme world where it’s cool to push everything to the edge. We take risks. We eat too much. We stay up too late. Then we go to bed with sleep aids and wake up with the use of artificial stimulants. We have no time for true rest and relaxation. We are fooled by false economies, thinking we are saving time and accomplishing more. It’s a counterfeit sense of accomplishment. We’ve squeezed all the juice out of the fruit and are searching for more where there is none.

They say it’s a sin to be unkind to others. Isn’t it just as much a sin to be unkind to ourselves? Whatever you do in life, take care of yourself. Be good to yourself. Care for and protect your vitality, energy and strength because they are the tools with which you accomplish everything else in life. The person who does this and has no money is rich compared to the person who is wealthy and has squandered their vitality and precious energy. Whatever you do, protect and care for the most amazing machine – You!