Your mind is one amazing “thing.” In fact, I don’t even know the word to refer to it. Your mind is not a “thing,” yet it is there. You can think, you can even observe yourself thinking! And while many have reduced your mind to some aspect of your brain’s function, science still struggles with this question.
In Paradise Lost, John Milton says The mind is its own place, and in itself Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven. Our minds can be used to create great achievements. Every invention, every moment of progress begins with a thought. Yet that same mind can be used to drive ourselves crazy.
Have you ever found yourself moving from a good mood to a bad one merely because you got caught up in your thoughts? That is the power of your mind, and illustrates Milton’s words perfectly.
In seminars, I often try to make the point that our thoughs, our mind, rules our emotions — it is NOT the other way around. And I can prove it to you in 30 seconds. Here is how: I want you to make yourself angry. Not just a little, but a lot! Make yourself furious. Take 30 seconds to get there.
[30 second pause]
How did you do it? Did you just “emote” yourself there. . . or did you sit and think about something that really made you angry? It was likely some past event. You may have not even thought about it for some time, but some writer just stirred up that thought, making you angry!
That is the power of our mind. It rules our emotional lives, and we don’t even realize it. Sure, when I remind you of that fact, it is a “no-brainer.” But how often during the day are you aware of how your mind is running your life?
I truly believe that one of the great issues of our day is the fact that we have very poor control of our minds. Call it “mind hygiene.” Whatever you want to call it, it is poor maintenance of our greatest strength as humans (and our greatest weakness).
So, rule 1, and really step 1 in thriving, is to become aware of how much your mind is ruling your life, and how much latitude we give our minds for tossing us around emotionally.
As we continue, we will talk about how to deal with our unruly minds.