To explain the power of our minds, doctors and public speakers of any kind like to have their audience (or patients) perform a few simple, empirical experiments.
Imagine an apple. A beautiful, fragrant, aromatic, red apple. Notice its roundness, its bumps, the difference in texture on the skin, the way its shadow hits the surface. Imagine picking it up and holding it in one hand. Again, notice how it feels on the touch. Is it soft and smooth? Or maybe it is slightly irregular and uncomfortable to hold? Make a picture as vivid as you can.
Now imagine biting your apple. Listen to the sound that it makes. Imagine chewing the fruit. Maybe the skin is still there and you can taste a sublte bitterness contrasting with the sweet succulence of the pulp. Keep chewing. Believe it.
Now, did you notice the salivation in your mouth, the tingly sensation on your tongue? But you weren’t actually eating anything, you just imagined it.
You told your brain that you were chewing an apple and it activated all the sensory points linked to the act of eating, even if, in fact, you weren’t.
That’s how powerful (and weak) your mind is. It believes everything you tell it. It believes every thought you think, as long as you keep thinking it long enough.
In her recent Mindvalley Talk, celebrity therapist and behavioral expert Marisa Peer said:
“Every thought you think, every word you say is a blueprint that you must move towards.”
And she goes on explaining:
“One of the rules of the brain is that the body and the mind act in a way that matches up to your thinking.”
At this point, I needed a moment to collect the pieces of my exploded mind.
So, we act accordingly to the way we define ourselves and our reality. And if words and thoughts shape our reality, guess what we will have if we used better words and thought better thoughts? A better reality.
What is reality?
Western philosophy, from Plato to Hume, has always struggled with the question of Reality.
What is real? Is the reality of the world different from how we perceive and experience it in our minds? Does physical reality exist apart from the human mind?
In his Critique of Pure Reason (1781), Kant emerged with a key insight: that in order to make sense of the perennial philosophical questions we have to step back and look at the mind itself, to see the mind as a tool and to be wary of how our concepts influence our conclusions.
It’s not what you know that makes you see the world in a certain way; it’s the belief that you have attached to those experiences.
That’s why reality is a subjective matter and everyone has a different opinion on it.
We are confident that we are experiencing the world as it truly is but the truth is that we are trapped in our brain. You see things the way your brain sees them, which may not be the same for me.
We see the same things, hear the same sounds, and experience the same stimuli, but each of us forms a different version of reality based on these inputs. So we develop distinct opinions on supposedly objective things like who said what during a fight or which color a certain dress is.
We all bring our own values, opinions, beliefs, and past experiences with us wherever we go. In a sense, this is the definition of mindset: a set of values, beliefs, and assumptions that define the way you think and, therefore, the way you act.
So reality is nothing but the experience of the world through the filter of a particular mindset, which is unique for everyone.
The power of thoughts
That’s how powerful a mindset can be: it can shape your reality.
Your thoughts act as a magnetic force to what you get out of life. What you think directly influences how you feel and how you behave. So if you think you’re a failure, you’ll feel like a failure. Then, you’ll act like a failure, which reinforces your belief that you must be a failure.
We place labels on ourselves and without even realizing it, we become those labels.
When we believe something about ourselves to be true, we look for reasons to reinforce that belief and discard everything else that suggests the opposite.
So, for example, if I’m sure I’m a bad writer, I’ll see every rejection, every failure as proof that I’m not good enough. And if a piece of mine gets published by some major publication, I’ll chalk it up to luck.
But what if I stop and start considering that it might not be my lack of talent that’s holding me back? What if I start pondering that it might be my belief of not being good enough that is preventing me to succeed?
I can change the way I think. And while I do that, I can change my reality. A more positive outlook creates better outcomes: it’s that easy.
To sum it up in Henry Ford’s words:
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t — you’re right.”
That’s not to imply that all you need to succeed is positive thinking. But positive thoughts lead to more productive and relaxed behaviors which enhances your chances to succeed.
you don’t have to restrict your potential or live in a world that you don’t like. You may not control the matrix, but you can control the way you perceive it. You can always control the way you think, and therefore, the way you act.
You can do anything you set your mind to. You just have to convince yourself that it’s possible and your brain will allow you to see the world as your playground.
Most people have already defined their reality — a gloomy post-apocalyptic place with obstacles at every turn, where only a few lucky ones get to make it. You perceive the same surroundings differently: it’s a wonderful place, with so many possibilities and so much beauty. To you, those “obstacles” are not an excuse to give up, but an opportunity to learn and improve yourself.
As Marcus Aurelius wrote:
“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.”
Use your mindset to control your life the way you want to. Don’t let your mindset control you the way others want to.
It is that simple: think better and you will live better.