I Think You Can

“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.”

Buddha

I think the typical reaction when we hear the Henry Ford quote, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you’re right” is something along the lines of—

“Ooh that’s a good quote”—and then shortly after cut to us immediately doubt ourselves and our abilities. At least that’s how it goes for me.

My definition of a cliche is something you hear so much that it loses all meaning and value in your mind. We know that the majority of the time we need to “Just do it.” Instead, we worry, fear, run away, stress, anguish, complain, blame, and do all manner of loitering—anything but just doing what we know we need to do.

“You think you can’t” is the part that truly holds us back.

I’ll catch myself doing everything I can to convince myself that something’s not possible or that I’m limited in some way. I can’t start a company because of X Y Z A Q B reasons. I can’t write a novel yet because of blah blah blah.

The only thing that’s limiting is my current mindset. Everything else that’s pushing against me, “limiting” me is an opportunity for me to be more creative, more humble, more impactful.

Of course, in order for that to be true, we need to stop holding ourselves back with unhelpful thoughts. The mind is a muscle. Having strong, healthy thoughts takes training just like any other muscle.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1051

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Self-fulfilling Prophecy

“Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.”

Zig Ziglar

Does thinking you are lucky make you lucky?

Does having a bit of bad luck increase your chances of more bad luck?

Probably. If you think you’ve got bad luck, then you’ll be more likely to notice little misfortunes and frustration throughout the day. And the more you notice them, the more you’ll reinforce the idea that your luck is terrible.

The connection point here is thinking. We think something is true, and therefore we believe its true and seek experiences to back it up. In psychology, this is called Attentional Bias “Why, then, ’tis none to you, for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.“ (Hamlet)

When you think you have bad luck, you blind yourself from seeing the alternatives. Such as just happened to have parked your car under a tree where birds like to poop. Or simply forgetting your umbrella on a rainy day because it wasn’t by the door, instead of thinking the heavens are out to get you.

And it’s not just about luck—all emotions, desires, and thoughts reinforce us one way or another.

Our thoughts become self-fulfilling prophecies. We aren’t our thoughts, but the thoughts we allow in the front door of our mind change and influence us.

As the Buddha once said “We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” And Marcus Aurelius, “Such as are your habitual thoughts, such also will be the character of your mind; for the soul is dyed by the thoughts.”

Thoughts translate to believes translate to actions translate to reality.

This isn’t one-to-one. There’s magic lost in translation.

Thinking “let there be ice cream!” won’t magically make a cone of ice cream pop into my hand. But it will get me thinking about ice cream. Chocolate… Cookie dough… Pistachio… Ice cream. Ice cream. Ice cream. And suddenly I’ll have an urge to go find some ice cream.

Outcomes are rarely assured. But stacking the deck in your favor (and removing the negative outcomes) makes them more likely.

When a negative/unhelpful thought creeps into your head, replace it with a positive/helpful one instead.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1017

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You Need A Practice

It took me a long time to realize how very little of life is in our control. We go through life feeling like we are in control—until we aren’t. Something happens that shakes us. A broken arm or health issue that shows us we are not invincible. A random circumstance that knocks the wind out of us. A realization that changes how we think about the world. These are turning points that can either keep us scared or lift us to a new level of understanding.

At its fundamental level, control means having power or influence over something. With just one hand, I could count how many things I have controller over:

  1. My thoughts.
  2. My actions and reactions.
  3. What I prioritize, focus on and/or value.
  4. Where I spend my time (and other resources).

In a way, what’s in our control are all related to one another. Thoughts lead to actions, and actions show what we prioritize our time on. These give us a credible amount of agency over our lives, but at the same time we are are in the midst of things outside of our control—an island in the middle of an untamable sea. But chaos doesn’t mean we are powerless. By focusing and honing what we do control, we can handle any life circumstances that come our way.

One great way to channel what’s in our control is to start a practice. Having a practice grounds you when everything else is up in the air.

Having a practice grounds you when everything else is up in the air.

What practice(s) you do is up to you. It could be something creative, like writing, dance, pottery, painting, drawing, making youtube videos, calligraphy, guitar, etc. It could be something nourishing, like yoga, mediation, cooking, running, swimming, etc.

What matters is making it intentional. And, ideally, it’s something you put into practice daily. But I’m not yo mama. I’m not going to tell you how you should live your life. We each have our own choice here. We could go about life rocking with the ship and whatever wave hits us. Or we could learn how to sail.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #876

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Related:

Having A Practice – Steven Pressfield

The Minds Impact on Reality

“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.”

Buddha

You could argue that all the friction I was dealing with while traveling to Thailand was through circumstances I created myself.

Where my thoughts of ”this day isn’t going to go well for me” contributing to my seemly random poor luck?

Can you think reality into existence?

I don’t know if I would go that far. But our thoughts do affect our emotional state and our actions. And our decisions established on our thoughts can have massive effects on our lives. So in a way our thoughts do change our reality.

Can I think ice cream to magically appear into existence? No(t yet anyway). But I can focus on ice cream mentally. I can dwell in the cream texture and imagine the taste. And the more I think about it, the more ill try to figure out a way to get it.

Thought correlates to reality.

The more we focus on something, the more we see it, the more we are drawn to it. Sometimes without even realizing it.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #857

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Becoming Your Own Person

Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Mary Oliver, Poet

We are born (literally) surrounded by others. Parents, doctors, foster parents, siblings, relatives, godmothers. We spend our early years like a sponge — absorbing everything we see, touch, smell, feel. We learn to enjoy the company of good friends (and good books 😉 ) and become immersed in the world we experience through ourselves.

Naturally, we adopt the traits and characteristics of people and culture surrounding us. Sometimes we take in good things, like treating others like we want to be treated, listening during conversation, smiling (with teeth showing) when passing someone on the street. And sometimes we take in not so great things, or things we don’t understand but file away in our minds as characteristics that get us what we want, or negative traits of the world around us, such as learning that money is something to be fought over, quitting early gets us out of fear or laziness, or worrying about everything.

We adopt the traits and characteristics of people and culture surrounding us.

And then we get older. We become more independent. We grow into someone with likes, hobbies and dreams. Various curiosities catch our eye, like learning Ju Jitsu, dance or wakeboarding. Our mind physically matures. Our body goes through things. We gravitate towards things we are good at, and avoid like the plague things we aren’t hot in. We fall in love. We get crushed. We fall in love again. We rebel. We dye our hair black and grow it long. We wear spiked belts and ironic necklaces. We break bones skating, or fall off a trampoline and hurt our back.

Yet, through it all, we still carry the characteristics (good and bad) that we learned in childhood. I am my own person, but I’m also the accumulation of lot of others too. The people we surround ourselves rub off on us. Their hopes and dreams become part of our own hopes and dreams. Their likes become our likes. Their dislikes, ours too.

And the key question to remember and challenge yourself with is this:

“Am I doing this because I want to, or because someone else wants me too?”

Are you enjoy X because you enjoy it, or because someone is pushing you too? Are you working at _ company out of interest and curiosity, or because your boss or your family is telling you too? Are you doing this because you want to, or are you doing this because you feel like you have to?

Some forces are universal, like retirement funds and compound interest, and are probably not going to change anytime soon. Other things are moving so quickly they’re likely already changed by the end of the day. But at the end of the day, we get to choose who we want to be.

We get to choose the kind of person we want to be.

Right now. This very second can be your chance to change and become the person you wish you would be.

Becoming your own person starts by not being everyone else. Through success, failure, feast or famine, we get to decide what we do, say and be in this life. And not do.

So, what kind of person do you want to be?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #784

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Saboteur = 1

There’s a question I read in Present Over Perfect that I’ve been thinking about recently in my own life:

“What do you need to burn down in your life, to make space for a new way of living?”

Commitments, expectations, roles, thoughts, habits, actions that go against who you want to be.

How are you holding yourself back from the life you dream of?

Bitterness? Grudges? Anxiety? Debt? Laziness? Negativity?

Burn them down. Do what you need to do to stop self-sabotaging yourself. 

Don’t let problems from your past control your future.

Stay BOLD, Keep Pursuing,

— Josh Waggoner

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Related Insights

“With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” — Albert Einstein

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” — Marcel Proust