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Think It. Become It. How Your Thoughts Have Power Over Your Destiny

Most high-performers know one very big secret: Words — especially the ones we tell ourselves — have tremendous power. Want to change your business, your life, your diet? It all starts with a single thought.

GG van Rooyen

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There was a time — long before Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask or Dumb and Dumber — when Jim Carrey was a nobody, just another struggling actor trying to make it big in Hollywood.

Carrey worked as a stand-up comic, but was finding it hard to make the transition into television and film. Unsurprisingly, not everyone was convinced that his particular brand of manic comedy would work on screen.

But Carrey refused to give up. Instead, he would travel up Mulholland Drive every night — where there was a great view of Los Angeles — and picture himself becoming a huge success.

“I would visualise having directors interested in me and people that I respected saying that they liked my work. I would visualise things that I wanted coming true,” Carrey said on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 1997.

“I had nothing at the time, but it just made me feel better. I would drive home and think: Well, I do have these things, they’re out there, I just don’t have a hold on them yet.”

Related: 8 Mindsets That Will Set You On The Path To Success

Carrey even wrote himself a cheque for $10 million (for acting services rendered), and dated it Thanksgiving 1995, which was about three years away. “Just before Thanksgiving in 1995, I found out that I was going to make $10 million on Dumb and Dumber,” Carrey said. So visualisation had clearly worked for him.

Carrey added a caveat, however, saying: “Visualisation works if you work hard. You can’t just visualise and then go eat a sandwich.”

Looking back on the interview years later, Oprah Winfrey said: “That was such a powerful moment for me. I was not a person who did visualisation or thought about my belief system in such a practical way. I learnt a lot from Jim Carrey on that show, and he is absolutely correct, if you can see it and believe it, it is a lot easier to achieve it.”

The Real Secret

There’s a pretty good chance that the story above reminded you of a little book called The Secret. And that might not necessarily be a good thing. Since its release in 2006, the book has achieved massive success — it has been translated into 46 languages and sold around 20 million copies — but it’s not for everyone. Some people (especially cynical and pragmatic business people) tend to baulk at the pseudo-science-laden cosmological talk of energy and vibrations.

But it would be a mistake to dismiss the concept of visualisation simply because of the New Age language of The Secret. The basic premise underlying the secret has actually been around for a long time.

In simple terms, this is the argument: If you spend all your time thinking about all the things you don’t have, you’ll stay unhappy. However, if you spend your time thinking about and visualising the things you want, you’ll attract those things to you.

Related: Stop Being So Damn Positive

The Law of Attraction

arnold-schwarzenegger

This is commonly called the Law of Attraction, and just about every uber-successful self-help book of the last hundred years has been punting this single idea. Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich, Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking, even Tony Robbins’ Unleash the Giant Within, these books all tout the power of visualisation and positive thinking.

And there’s no shortage of successful people who believe in this law, either.

“What you do is create a vision of who you want to be — and then live that picture as if it were already true,” says Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“It’s sort of like a mantra. You repeat it to yourself everyday: Music is my life, music is my life. The fame is inside of me, I’m going to make a number one record with number one hits. And it’s not yet, it’s a lie. You’re saying a lie over and over and over again, and then, one day the lie is true,” says Lady Gaga (who, incidentally, is more intelligent than people often give her credit for.

She was once a member of the Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Talented Youth, which was only open to young adolescents who scored in the top 1% on university entrance exams. Other members included Mark Zuckerberg, Google founder Sergey Brin and mathematician Terence Tao).

Will Smith, one of the few truly ‘bankable’ stars in the world whose mere presence in a film guarantees increased ticket sales, has said: “I believe, wholeheartedly, that our thoughts, our feelings, our dreams, our ideas are physical in the universe. If we dream something, if we picture something, we commit ourselves to it, then we are going to command and demand that the universe becomes what we want it to be.”

What about some examples that aren’t from the airy fairy world of entertainment? Well, there’s Michael Jordan and Muhammed Ali, who both famously always visualised themselves as victorious before an event.

And then there’s the industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie who once said: “I am no longer cursed by poverty because I took possession of my own mind and that mind has yielded me every material thing I want, and much more than I need. But this power of mind is a universal one, available to the humblest person as it is to the greatest.”

Related: 10 Secrets For Developing A Millionaire Mentality

Why it Works

When an idea remains popular over a long stretch of time and keeps resurfacing in one form or another, you have to question why this is. Is there perhaps something to it?

Just for the sake of this argument, let’s assume that it’s not because there are physical vibrations or energies gravitating towards the happy, shiny people of the world. Let’s also assume it’s not about unblocking your chakras, vanquishing your bad aura, or opening your third eye.

What else could it be, then?

Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People offers one of the most convincing reasons: “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.”

Mahatma Gandhi said something similar: “Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.”

It really comes down to reaping what you sow. Focus on problems and irritations, and you’ll find them everywhere, which will leave you despondent and unproductive. Focus on the good things, and you become happy and productive. You start seeing solutions instead of problems, and without knowing exactly why, your life starts to change — things start going your way.

Let’s Talk About Rituals

Tony Robbins

“This could be the greatest time you ever live if you control what you focus on, if you find a more empowering meaning, and if you decide to model the actions of those who succeeded before you,” Tony Robbins says.

“It can be the best financial time, the best emotional time and the best spiritual time of your life, but you better take control of your state. And if you think you’re going to do it just by today, you’re wrong. You’re going to need to find yourself some rituals. Everyone is controlled by their rituals.”

Your life (you can call it your destiny, if you like) is determined by your rituals, says Robbins. Importantly, these are not rituals like burning incense, sitting in the lotus position or reciting mantras. It’s about the simple stuff you do every single day of your life — it’s about what you have for breakfast, how often you work out, what you do just before going to bed, how you spend the first 60 minutes of your day.

Robbins himself, for example, has a very specific ritual every morning. No matter how busy he is, he always makes time for it.

“I prime myself every morning. I start off with a radical breathing pattern, and then I spend ten minutes on gratitude. I pick three things I’m grateful for, one of which needs to be very simple, like the wind on my face or the faces of my kids. The emotions that trip us up are fear and anger, and you can’t be fearful and grateful at the same time, and you can’t be angry and grateful at the same time.”

After this, Robbins spends a few minutes visualising the things he wants to achieve. “I pick three results and outcomes, I’m very committed to them and I see them as done and fulfilled.”

Related: 8 Things Exceptional Thinkers Do Every Day

The 4-Hour Workweek author Tim Ferriss starts his day with five rituals that he believes create the right sort of mental attitude and sets him up to have a successful day. “If you win the morning, you win the day,” he says. “And if I manage to do at least three of these things in a morning, I’ve won the morning.”

He starts by making his bed (it gives you a small win and makes you feel as if you’ve already achieved something for the day). After this, he meditates, which is something he finds most high-performing individuals tend to do.

According to Ferriss, he gets 50% more done in a day if he’s meditated because his mind is focused and not as easily distracted. Thirdly, he hangs, from his arms, for a few minutes. He says it decompresses his spine, and he does it a few times every day, just to break up work sessions.

After hanging, he makes himself some tea, usually herbal tea from China, to which he adds some turmeric and ginger. Finally, he writes in his journal, usually on things he needs to achieve and things he is grateful for.

Begin With Yes

tim-ferriss

Tim Ferriss’s morning rituals are rather esoteric, to be sure, but the exact nature of his daily habits aren’t really important. What is important is that he has identified specific rituals that help him attain his daily goals, and he sticks to them religiously.

The problem is this: Positive thoughts and words of affirmation are easy to cling to when you’ve got loads of time and few problems, but it’s tough to stay positive when life gets hectic. Maintaining a sunny outlook is near impossible when the kids are sick, traffic is a nightmare, your quarterly sales report is overdue and your landlord is demanding last month’s rent.

That’s when it’s important to have rituals to fall back on. Once you’ve created the habit, your specific mindset in the moment becomes less important. It allows you, in a sense, to ‘go through the motions’. You don’t meditate or write in your gratitude journal because you feel like it (in fact, you probably don’t feel like doing it at all), but you do it anyway because it’s become a habit.

You start off feeling rushed and irritated, but by the time you’ve meditated or written, you feel better. The same is true of preparing healthy meals, working out or volunteering at your local charity. Some days, those feelings of positivity will leave you and you’ll just want to go home and stare at the television, but if you’ve created a ritual, you can fall back on the habit and not depend on your emotions to get things done.

Begin with Yes author Paul Boynton calls this ‘The Law of Action’. The problem with the Law of Attraction is that it demands a positive attitude, something that can be hard to muster when you’re really dealing with a tough situation.

So, instead, he proffers the Law of Action, which doesn’t demand a positive outlook, but simply asks for a dogged determination to keep pushing forward.

As the title of his book suggests, he argues that, even when you don’t feel like it, you just need to keep saying ‘yes’ to life. You take the action, and the emotion will (eventually) follow. (Coincidentally, Jim Carrey once starred in a movie called Yes Man that deals exactly with this. It’s not a masterpiece, but still worth seeking out).

Related: How to Find the Entrepreneur Within

Anti-complaining

shonda-rhimes

How exactly do you start saying ‘yes’, though? For television mogul Shonda Rhimes it literally meant saying ‘yes’ to everything that came her way for a year.

“So a while ago, I tried an experiment,” she said during a TED Talk on the subject at the beginning of 2016. “For one year, I would say yes to all the things that scared me. Anything that made me nervous, took me out of my comfort zone, I forced myself to say yes to. Did I want to speak in public? No, but yes.

Did I want to be on live TV? No, but yes. Did I want to try acting? No, no, no, but yes, yes, yes.

“And a crazy thing happened: the very act of doing the thing that scared me undid the fear, made it not scary. My fear of public speaking, my social anxiety, poof, gone. It’s amazing, the power of one word. ‘Yes’ changed my life. ‘Yes’ changed me.”

For Tim Ferriss, meanwhile, it meant embracing what he calls anti-complaining.

Echoing Gandhi and Covey, Ferriss says: “Word choice determines thought choice, which determines emotions and actions. It’s not enough to just decide you’ll stop using certain words, though. It requires conditioning.”

To condition himself, Ferris embraced a system created by church minister Will Bowen.

“Will designed a solution in the form of a simple purple bracelet, which he offered to his congregation with a challenge: Go 21 days without complaining. Each time one of them complained, they had to switch the bracelet to their other wrist and start again from day zero. It was simple but effective metacognitive awareness training.

“I made it 11 days on the first attempt, then I slipped back to zero. Then it was two or three days at a time for about a month. Once I cleared 21 days at around month three, I no longer needed the bracelet.”

As the new year approaches, this is the perfect time to come up with some rituals that will help you achieve your goals. These need not be large and daunting habits. Don’t vow to run 10 km every day if a single flight of stairs currently leaves you winded. Start with small thoughts and small actions, but be consistent. Success is a marathon, not a sprint. Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.

GG van Rooyen is the deputy editor for Entrepreneur Magazine South Africa. Follow him on Twitter.

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4 Ways to Stop Worrying in 2019

If you’re a bit of a worry-wart, you have to acknowledge this and get proactive about managing your stress, anxiety and worrying levels. Here’s how.

Fedhealth

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What if I can’t complete that piece of work in time? What if my home gets burgled while I’m on holiday? We all worry – some people more than others. A few of these worries are genuine concerns, but most are completely out of our control and are most likely never to materialise.

But still, they occupy our minds. And with the digital world now occupying even more of our time, we’ve been given even more material to worry about. Famines in far-away countries, children orphaned by a flood, if we simply turn on our TVs or look to social media, we can become completely overwhelmed by what we see. And it’s making us all desperately unhappy.

So, what do we do? If you’re a bit of a worry-wart, you have to acknowledge this and get proactive about managing your stress, anxiety and worrying levels. Here’s how:

Monitor and limit social media

social-media-management

We all know our phones are an addiction. And scrolling through Twitter or Instagram, you can compare your life to everyone else’s and add another huge worry to your ever-growing list: I’m not good enough/my life sucks. Which is why there’s a growing trend among Generation X-ers (and even some Millennials), to quit social media altogether.

“It was like breaking an addiction for the first few days, where I felt I was missing out, but after a few weeks I realised that the world carries on, and I was still in touch with those people I actually wanted to connect with. I felt lighter and happier,” says Caryn White*, a mother-of-two and small business owner. If you can’t quit social media for work reasons, then take it off your phone, and only access it on your desktop at specific times of the day.

Limit news

We’re not advocating sticking your head in the sand: just limit which channels you absorb news from, and how often you do it. The last thing you need is to open up your phone on waking up and read about the latest catastrophe, which you are powerless to do anything about.

Pick a few trusted news sources and check them at specific times. Avoid the news on the radio in your car; rather listen to fascinating audio books or podcasts that lift your mood instead of making you worry.

Assumption or fact?

This simple concept is incredibly helpful when faced with a worrying situation. Your child has a strange rash, you’ve Googled it and you’re pretty sure it’s chickenpox. Now the whole family is going to get it, you’ll miss work, your boss will be angry, and you may lose your job. Is the fact that your child has chicken pox an assumption or a fact?

Is losing your job a fact or an assumption? They’re both assumptions. So, take your child to the doctor, get a proper diagnosis and then take the next steps from there (a good medical aid can also help ease the stress of the financial cost of doctors’ visits). This approach is a simple way to deal with worries that start to spiral out of control in your mind.

Write them down

Worrying can seem insurmountable if it’s all in your head. Instead, try this strategy from Qualified FAMSA Counsellor Lynette Blomfield:

  1. Take a few deep breaths with your eyes closed, until you calm down.
  2. Once you’re calm, write down the five most stressful things on your list. It could be increasing expenses, like a huge jump in medical aid costs per month.
  3. Brainstorm what you could do to change or eliminate the worry/problem (maybe you can move to a medical aid company that charges less each month?). If necessary, ask a good friend or colleague for advice.
  4. Focus on making progress, not ticking all your worries off and striving for ‘perfection’.
  5. Stay on course and come back to your list regularly.

Dealing with worrying is about being proactive. You’re the only one that can begin the process of reducing anxiety, so now’s the time to take some steps. If you don’t know how to begin doing this on your own, it may be best to see a qualified counsellor or therapist to get you started.

*name has been changed

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These 6 Types of Music Are Known To Dramatically Improve Productivity

Just another example of how much you gain by listening.

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Music isn’t just a means of entertaining ourselves: it can also encourage creativity and help us become more productive. Listening to music can also be therapeutic, relieving feelings of stress so you can concentrate better.

Research has found that certain types of music can be beneficial to us while we work. Some types of music seem to help with learning and improve our ability to process information. Other types help block out distracting background noise. Still other types sync with our brain waves to induce “eureka moments.”

So, if you’re struggling with productivity and want to know what you should be listening to, read on. These are the six types of music that will give you a major boost in productivity.

1. Classical Music

beethoven

Researchers have long claimed that listening to classical music can help people perform tasks more efficiently. This theory, which has been dubbed the Mozart Effect,” suggests that listening to classical composers can enhance brain activity and act as a catalyst for improving health and well-being. Various studies have confirmed that listening to classical music enhances one’s ability to manipulate shapes and solve spatial puzzles.

The absence of words in the music may be one factor, as songs that contain lyrics have been found to be a distraction when you’re trying to focus. And classical music is known for being calming, relaxing and helping reduce stress. This genre of music has been found to help students perform 12 percent better on their exams. Some selections, like Beethoven’s “Für Elise,” seem to help students study longer and retain more information.

Here are other few classical selections you can use to boost productivity while working:

2. Nature Music

nature-waterfall-sounds

Listening to the sounds of nature, like waves crashing or a babbling brook, has been shown to enhance cognitive function and concentration. Nature sounds work best when they’re soothing sounds, such as flowing water or rainfall, while more jarring noises such as bird calls and animal noises can be distracting.

Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have discovered that natural sounds boost moods and focus. The study found employees were more productive and had more positive feelings when nature sounds were playing in the background while they worked.

This may be because nature sounds helped mask harsher, more distracting noises, such as people talking or typing. Researchers found that workers not only performed better on tasks, but calming nature sounds also had a restorative effect on cognitive abilities.

Here are some selections to try:

3. Cinematic Music

the-bourne-identity

An intense film score can make you feel like you’re doing something inspiring or important, even if you’re just chipping away at your to-do list. A grandiose, epic soundtrack playing in the background may make even the most mundane tasks feel like you’re changing the world, thus heightening your concentration and productivity.

Cinematic music scores can be empowering, lifting your spirits and brightening your mood. So, if you’re feeling tired and drained, try listening to some epic-style cinematic music to give you that extra boost of motivation.

Some great movie scores to try include:

4. Video Game Music

halo-soundtrack

It might seem strange, but listening to music composed for video games can be a great tool to help you focus. Every element of a video game is designed to create an enhanced gaming experience for all your senses, and the music has been composed specifically to help you focus on your task without being distracted by a cacophony of sounds.

This music generally has no lyrics or human voices and is fairly fast-paced to keep you moving forward. Many of these video games involve solving puzzles and dealing with intense situations, so you’re subjecting yourself to simulated stressful challenges. Video games have invested a lot of resources in figuring out the perfect balance to the music they use.

Video game music is composed in a way that keeps you engaged as you evaluate, navigate and often fight your way through these make-believe worlds. These musical compositions may be just the thing to propel you onward and keep you zooming through your tasks and daily to-do list.

Here are some excellent video game music selections to check out:

5. Music between 50 and 80 beats per minute

bruno-mars

Some research suggests that it’s not the type of music that’s important in helping you stay focused and productive, but the tempo of that music. Studies have found that music with 50 to 80 beats per minute can enhance and stimulate creativity and learning.

Dr. Emma Gray, a cognitive behavioural therapist, worked with Spotify to research the benefits of certain types of music. She found that listening to music set in the 50- to 80-beat range puts the brain into an alpha state.

When we’re awake, we’re typically in a state of mind known as beta, a heightened state of alertness where our brain-wave activity is between 14 and 30 HZ. When our brain slows to between 7 and 14 HZ, we’re in a more relaxed alpha state of mind that allows us to be more receptive and open, and less critical. This state of mind is what scientists associate with activities that involve our imagination, memory and intuition, including our “eureka moments.”

If you have ever listened to music that you’re familiar with, only to find yourself deep in thought and not really hearing the music at all, this is an alpha state induced by music. You’re tuning out while being tuned in.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Self Development

10 Secrets To Finding A Job You Love

Entrepreneur and social media sensation Gary Vaynerchuk and nine others tell us how they found their calling and how you can find yours.

Entrepreneur

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Research suggests that more than half of us are unhappy at work. From lawyers to brokers and CEOs, these Advisors in The Oracles are proof it’s possible to be successful and have a job you love. Here, they share how they found work that fulfills them — and how you can too.

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