Every journey begins with a single step...and to complete journeys, one must continue taking single steps, one step a time, until you reach your destination.
At this point in time you may not understand where you're at, maybe you're disappointed with what's been happening in your life, maybe you don't know where you're headed, and that's scary for you. First and foremost, understand that no matter how overwhelming or daunting things seem to be right now, you can surely turn things around. FEAR many times stand for False Evidence Appearing Real. You can bring your dreams to reality, to life if your dreams had died.
You do this by tapping into a power inside of you right now as you read these words and the words following these words in the articles after. The power that you have within yourself can and will change your life in moments - all you need to do is to acknowledge it, harness it, and unleash it.
I used this same power and strategy to turn my own life around in 2008, and every day I'm still using the same strategy and same power (albeit I'm more in tune with it right now with practice and use). I was a sad man, wallowing in my own pity and pride, lost my friendships and relationships and to my neck in financial debt. Completely frustrated, I was living in a single rented room, lonely and miserable. I had no plans for my future (I dare not think about it, as my life at that moment was tough enough to handle, what future dare I dream of?). I felt that life is very sad, very poor and my life was all there is to it. Deep in debts as I tried get-quick-rich programs that preyed on people like myself, I became more emotionally bankrupt and overwhelmed.
In less than a year, almost everything changed. I made a decision to change my life. Slowly I build my confidence necessary to make it through the tough times and things I need to handle, and achieve the goals I'd been dreaming of.
There's no secret formula, nor nothing magical – I simply focused on a better future for myself, my family and my future wife. What kept me going was also focusing on meeting the needs of the people around me, be it my family, friends, patients. Things that were always on my mind were "how can I deliver more value?" and "how can I help them get better/stronger faster and more lasting results?" – it was through this thought and actual process that honed the way I thought and lived, and interestingly, the people around me started to listen more to me, not because I'm loud or proud, but because I focused on them. Not focus on my needs.
The secret to personal development and progressive living is truly through giving, but to be able to give and have the ability to consistently give more quality and quantity giving, I (had to) become a better person. Personal development and progressive living became a by-product of giving in love, hope and compassion. In this process, I attracted the woman of my dreams and married her. I went from living from day-to-day and hands-to-mouth to living in our own apartment, having our own cosy home in Singapore.
But I'm not stopping there. I'd like to help you too, to make the changes you desire in your life.
All of us have dreams. We all believe that we're unique, that we're special and we can and will make a difference, that we can touch the lives of our loved ones, friends and the society. At a point in our lives, we had an idea what we really wanted to achieve and do, and what we really deserved.
Then, life's daily grind grounded us. Many of us then forget our dreams, our hopes, and our aspirations as life seems to "beat us down" or "reality sinks in." We forget our dreams, put aside our aspirations, and forget our power to shape our lives and future, losing our confidence and hope in this process. It's my life purpose and message to remind people that
We can live purposefully today, full of the power, drive and aspirations of our dreams and hopes. This series will give you some simple strategies and tools that will help you in making this come to pass.
Of course, positive thinking is good, and often a great way to start. Of course, you must first believe and focus on turning things around or believe in making things better rather than being negative and focusing on all the problems. But still, positive thinking alone by itself it not enough to turn everything around or bringing things to a higher level. You will need the tools and strategies and a blueprint or plan to change the way you think and feel, as well as what you do everyday.
We all want to improve and change some aspects of our lives that can do better, or that we can do without (this means taking out things that are not so good for us). With this series, I'd like to help you get started on making positive and progressive changes on a consistent, day to day basis, to help you take control of your life and begin to change the quality of your own life with the strategies here. You might also be able to help some of your family members and friends too.
As you start where you are, you need to believe that your life can get better. That it is possible to change. No matter what your past is, you can still influence and change your present, and ultimately influence your character and ultimately, achieve your purpose and destiny. At this moment, befriend yourself and treat yourself how you'd treat a friend who needs a helping hand and listening ear.
Oftentimes, events that are out of our control happens. We get downsized. Our loved ones leave us in death or disappointing choices. Our cars or buses breakdown. Whatever it is, something happens where we feel that we cannot do anything to make a difference about it.
Maybe you've tried very hard. Maybe you've tried all you know. Maybe you've tried all that you don't know or even thought of, but nothing seems to work so far. You can't get a job you love, can't find the love of your life, can't help your family and friends when they need help. Sometimes, we try and fail so much, that we give up entirely on trying, because nothing seems to work or 'it's not going to work/last anyway.'
If you've reached this point, it's called 'learned helplessness.' It's a medical term as well, one that I've come across several times in the institutions and working environments I've worked in where patients just give up in doing anything, and waits for death. Not my words, but their own.
There is good news for you – that's an inaccurate perspective. You can make a difference, you can change your life and your destiny. You do that one step a time by changing your belief system and perspectives and taking/changing actions. Do you remember an inventor by the name of Thomas Edison? This man, who founded the lightbulb – he tried 9,999 times before he perfected the light bulb. Without his determination and gritted persistence, we would be able to see at night today.
He said: "I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward."
The first step you'd need to take change your life around is to discard the thinking that "nothing works" and adopting the "I can make a difference." Sometimes we hold on strongly onto our past mistakes, saying to ourselves repeated that "since I've been unable to achieve (whatever I've aimed) for the past (time, year etc), I've concluded that I'm unable to (whatever we think we can't achieve ever). If you want a change, there must be a systematic trial-and-error approach in your strategy to personal development and progressive living. Sometimes, we get too caught up in the emotion of failure, pain, disappointment that we forget that every error discarded is a step forward (Thomas Edison). And even though you've made mistakes, move on – your past doesn't mean your future, although it can influence it to a certain extent. What's more important is what you do right now, and what you do everyday from now on.
Try to not harbour or focus or harp on the past mistakes/whatever that didn't work – instead, have a goal that you keep working towards, eventhough it doesn't seem to be working or that you don't seem to get closer to your goals. In fact, sometimes it'd seem as though you're getting further away from your goal!
Do you remember KFC? I'm pretty sure you've eaten the chicken there – it stands for Kentucky Fried Chicken, and it's founded by Colonel Sanders. I want to share his story with you – when he got his pension, Colonel Sanders was pretty upset with what he received, and set out on a journey. At that time he began, he was 65 years old. He didn't start complaining and asking for social assistance (if he did this, I'm pretty sure we wont have KFC today) or blaming others for his situation, in fact, he started asking himself what he could give or do for others.
He remembered his fried chicken recipe, and thought to himself - I could sell the recipe to restaurants and maybe make money in percentage sales doing that!. Like many people, Colonel Sanders had a great idea…but unlike many people, he actually took action. He started knocking on doors and telling restaurant owners his story and his offer and what he'd like in return. Actually, many people actually laughed at him and slammed the doors shut on him, but he didn't give up (well, KFC IS still here today, isn't it? =p).
Colonel Sanders would not stop there, he would not be beaten down, he would not stand down, he would push in, keep persisting and persevering, and kept fine-tuning his approach and system, and his idea was accepted by the 1,010 restaurant owner! He spent two years in his beat-up car, in his white rumpled suit, sleeping in his car and driving all over America. Many times, he would only eat bites of the samples to sustain himself. That's why there is only one Colonel Sanders today. Sometimes, this is what it takes to succeed – can you take 1,000 discarded errors, 1,000 no, 1,000 trials to reach your goals?
If you take a look and study the biography of successful people in the course of history and economy and life, they all have this one thing in common – they persist. They will not stop. They press in. They don't allow anything to prevent or take their goal away from them. When I lived in my small rented room, I kept reminding myself of these stories. I pored over them everyday, and reminded myself of them.
I told myself: No problem is permanent. No problem is too big. Nothing is impossible. I reminded and remembered all the good things I can be thankful for, that I'm alive, strong, young. I had to remind myself everyday, and reminded myself to focus on what I wanted and where I wanted to go and be. I told myself – no problem will affect my entire life, no matter how big it seems to be right now.
So I decided that I would not believe for any longer that my life was screwed up just because I had financial debt, or that I had strained relationships. I told myself that I was "in transition", a term my wife would know instantaneously, for it is this word that got me through when times are tough, or as we were still clearing the tough times. I mapped out the goals and strategies and kept going at them, as it is today, and believed that I would make it out of the winter solstice of my life. I would press in until I found and achieve the goals I wanted.
My message is fundamental and simple – believe that your life can change, have your goals and strategies mapped out, and keep taking actions that will bring you closer to your goals. Take the actions, no matter how small or big, today.
This is a time where you have to make a decision. You have to take a side. You need to promise yourself, and remember that you will never, ever indulge or partake in feelings of being helpless, depressed or useless, ever again. I'm not being unrealistic about the challenges that you will face later on, but I just want to highlight to you that the emotion called "fear of defeat or failure" or "fear of pain again" is the emotions that have been sabotaging your life and limiting your power. You can change your life and make it better and greater.
See, we all have challenges in our lives, every single one of us – we all deal with disappointments, setbacks, problems, betrayals, humiliation and the like, but it's how we deal with it that sets us apart and shape our lives and destiny more than anything else.
Choose to believe in your heart, mind and spirit, that there is no such thing as failures or defeat – there is such thing as feedback and experience. When we live through life, we experience the ups and downs of life, sometimes things are positive and fruitful, sometimes they're not. What we need to focus on, is to focus more on what we want – if you'd like to have more positive fruits, then choose to focus more on it, acquiring more space for more fruit trees, pruning bad weeds etc. If at this point in time there too much trees that yields bad, bland and even poisonous fruits (this is data, experience and feedback), then you may need to cut down the trees, and plant newer, better trees with sweeter fruits. See, I focused on the solution.
No person, events or disappointments in life is worth destroying your life over. Life is always worth living, and living is the best thing you can do for the living. There is always something to be thankful and grateful for too. Remember, God's delays are not God's denials – just note that there is a time to everything.
The power that I mentioned before, that is able to change your entire life and turn it around is the power of our decision. The decisions we make is what that powers our life, be it in a positive or negative manner. I know that there are events and circumstances that happen in our lives that we cannot change, but what we can change and control is deciding how we think, feel and do about those events that occur. Admittedly or not, decisions, actions and choices as well as different results are about a decision or two away from where we currently are.
Most of the time, we forget of our power and ability to choose. Fundamentally, it is our decisions and actions today, not the conditions and circumstances of our lives and its events that determine our destiny and future. How we live today is the sum result of what and who we decided to spend time with/in , what we decided to learn or not learn, what we decided to believe, what and when we decided to press in or give up, what we decided to eat, if we decided to smoke or not – your decisions ultimately determine who you are and become, and it's all under your direct control and power to handle.
If we really, honestly and sincerely want to change our lives and actions for a better life and future, then we've got to take a good hard look at where we are, determine where we want to go, draw up the map/pathway and take new actions on what we say we stand for and are committed to.
When we say "we decide", it'd mean a true, conscious and committed decision, not just another code word that says "maybe tomorrow" that sounds more like a preference, such as "I'd like it to stop raining." That's not what I mean, I'm referring to making true decision that there is no other alternatives to it, that you will commit all your time and effort to making the goal and decision come to pass, despite the challenges, hurdles and the setbacks you may face (I assure you, you will face challenges, hurdles and setbacks!).
The smarter and harder you work relentless towards your goal and on your blueprint of strategies, the "luckier" you'll get in achieving your goals and dreams. Don't let challenges, hurdles or setbacks set you back – let every disappointment be a new appointment, and every stumbling block be a new stepping stone for you. There is always a newer and better way, as Thomas Edison had mentioned in his 9,999 challenges before the lightbulb was perfected.
Yes, there are those born with a genetic, financial or economic disposition where things seem to be placed in their favour. Some are born super rich, some with super healthy bodies, some always knows the right things to say and do. That is not a good reason for us to not do anything, or to fall back – it just highlights our responsibilities to take care of our own bodies, finances and personal development.
At the same time, we also always hear about the underdog, the rag-to-riches, the great overcomers and history makers who against all odds and expectations beyond the limits of their situations by making newer decisions on what they'd like to do and achieve with and in their lives. They are the greatest examples of how the power of decision and persistence brought them forward.
How did they do it? At some point in their lives, they decided they had enough. Enough of mediocrity, of tolerating "just okay" or "just enough." They decided in having a better life, better still, their best lives. They made real decisions that changes their lives and destinies.
Real decisions are as what it is spelled. It is real, and there is no other possibilities or alternatives or giving up or backing down. It's not as simple as it sounds, that's why not that many people around us make or do them more often. This is because it becomes very easy to "classify" decisions as "part of our wish list", something like a new year resolutions – wanting the benefits of the change without wanting to undergo the process that brings forth the change. Actually, many of us hadn't made a real decision so long that we'd probably forgotten what it feels like!
Here's what a scenario of making a real decision will look like – it'd look like you wrote your decision/resolution/goal on wet cement on the floor or on the wall, open for not only yourself to see and be reminded, but also for others to see. It doesn't matter if others see it or not, what's more important is that you know exactly what you want/where you want to go, and this clarity gives you even more power to do what it takes to get where/what you want.
The people who overcome the odds to achieve their best lives make three decisions every single waking day: (1) what to spend their time focused on; (2) what things mean to them and (3) what to do and doing them.
All journeys begins with a new decision. Even the journey of personal development for progressive living. What are some things that you've been putting off? Are you focused on the urgent but forgetting the important? Especially the tough decisions you know you need to make and take that will make your life become better?
Maybe it's to stop smoking or drinking alcohol. Maybe you want to start exercising and become fitter. Or maybe you want to read more books. Or maybe you'd want to wake up each day earlier. Or maybe wake up with a better and more positive attitude. Maybe you want to stop blaming others/everything else and focus on what you can do to make things better. Maybe you want to make a decision to find a job that you love. Maybe start an online business and really learn to build it up and make income online. Maybe you want to show your family more love today.
Right here, right now, you probably have a list of ideas in your head. Good. Prioritize them and take the top most three that you're willing to work on and follow through, regardless of whatever effort or time it takes, and do it. First, start by making one small promise that you can keep. Keep it and believe if you can start keeping one small promise, surely you can work your way up to larger promises you can keep, and this allows you to grow your capacity.
Then make another commitment, a bigger one, that inspires you. Write it down, and tell someone you really trust and who wouldn't laugh or judge you, and enjoy the process of keeping to all your decisions and promises!
Your beliefs and values are the force that controls every single decision and action that you take. It will influence and determine how you feel, how you think at every waking moment of your life. It will determine what you will do…or not do. It influences how you feel about everything and anything at all in your life. That pretty much sums up how powerful your beliefs can be, so you'd want your beliefs to be on your side.
When you believe in something, regardless if it's conscious or not, you give your brain an unquestioned command to respond in a certain manner. An example that is very common to us is when we're looking for our house keys, frantically looking around, we keep saying "I don't know where it is, I cant find it!" moments before someone else sees it lying in plain sight, right smack in the middle of a very clear line of sight in front of you.
Has that happened to you before? It sure has happened to me more times that I'd like it to be. Beliefs are pretty strong, aren't they? Let's take it up one notch – do you believe in voodoo magic? For those who do, they may die if someone puts a "voodoo curse" on them. It's not that the curse works, but because their brains gave their hearts an unquestioned command to stop beating. Has this been done before – yes.
Along with this logical flow of thought, then do you think your beliefs can affect your life and the lives of those around you? Of course. Our beliefs are very powerful, so you've got to be extra cautious about what beliefs you allow into your mind. I can share with you which beliefs I hold on to that has helped me through all the tough and down times such as There Is No Such Thing As Failures, Only Feedback which helped me stay my focus and "My Past Is Not My Future" and "What I Do Today Determines My Future Tomorrow." It's for beliefs such as these that propels me forward, directing the way I think, act and behave.
What's a belief anyway? Is it some hocus-pocus and airy-fairy made-up stuff? It's easy to dismiss beliefs as they're not seen with the naked eyes, but behave like strongholds in influencing our lives. Our beliefs are simply are feeling of assuredness or certainty about something. An example is you say you believe that you're resourceful, what you're really saying is that "you feel assured and certain that you're resourceful." It's this assuredness and certainty that allows and enables you to tap on certain resources that helps you behave resourcefully to produce the results you want. Interestingly, we have the resources for virtually everything and anything at all, or at least the access to the answers we need through others/resources.
The trouble is that it is often our lack of belief, our lack of assuredness and our lack of certainty that limits our tapping on resources that is within us.
One of the simplest way of understanding what beliefs are is to take them as ideas - there are lots of ideas out there and inside your head, but you may not believe all of them. For example, let's use the idea that you're a patient person. Take a moment to tell yourself "I'm patient.". To identify if it's an idea or belief will come as the feeling of assuredness and certainty you feel as you say it. If you feel or think that "Hmm, I don't think I'm as patient as I think I am" then you're really saying that "I'm not certain I'm patient."
You get the idea?
Okay, so how do we progress an idea into a belief? Imagine an idea as a table with two legs already installed. So you can imagine, it's not stable as a belief because it's incomplete. A belief is an idea with four solid legs holding it up; so what are the things that hold up a belief? You'd need some references, a testimonial of sorts. Better still, have experience and feedback and data – all these would make your "belief table" even more stable and solid. It'd make your beliefs certain.
What are the experiences and testimonials that assures you that you are patient? Maybe people had told you so. Maybe you had a testimony saying that you are very patient. Maybe you won an award. Take every single supporting information as legs, and add them to the "belief table" – the more legs, the more stable.
Once you've understood how beliefs are like tables, and their legs are supported with supporting information, now you can understand how they are formed and understand how you can change them (this is more advance, we can work on this later). With this knowledge, now you can create stronger and more positive beliefs that empower you in your journey of personal development for progressive living and tear down the disempowering ones (by removing the bad belief's supporting structures).
Thing is, it's your choice. No one can force you to believe what you want. You can choose what to believe about yourself, and these beliefs will determine the kind of actions you will take. Most importantly, choose beliefs that empower, supports and propel you forward.
What are three beliefs that you think you need right now? Do you need to believe that you have the confidence to handle more responsibility as a senior position in the company you're working in? Do you need to believe you have the capacity to handle and grow a small business to a medium sized one? Do you need to believe that you have the ability to handle a family in love, faith and hope? Do you need the confidence to believe that you will stay the path and challenges in building an online business? Write down at least one belief that you must adopt immediately, and add the supporting structures to reinforce it.
Many people want to change how they feel about something, but they don't know how to do it. The best and fastest way to do it is to change what you're focusing on. If you want to feel really bad right now, it'd be pretty easy to do that, wouldn't it? All you've got to do is to wallow in something painful that you had experienced and focus your time and attention on it – do this long enough and you'd relive the entire painful movement again.
That's not a very good idea though, and I'd not recommend it. If you just started watching a movie, and it's really bad, would you watch it again and again? Why I bring this up is to show how easy it can be for someone to move from a neutral/happy/optimistic state of mind into a negative/unhappy/negative state simply by changing his or her focus. This shows how important it becomes to control our focus – even when things are tough, you need to focus on what you can do and what you can control, not otherwise.
The converse also works – if you want to feel really good about yourself right now, you could do that as easily too. Focus on something that made you really happy, or something that made you optimistic and positive. You could focus on something you can be thankful in your life for, or you can visualize into a beautiful and abundance future that you can get excited in anticipation. This positivity translates into power and energy that helps you jumpstart and keep your momentum going.
I'll share with you a simple example of my own personal life and experiences. For a period of my life, I harboured resentment against my family, whom I felt that they did so and so to me, and for years I would have angry outburst at them, even for seemingly harmless things. One day, I had an epiphany, where I thought to myself: "why so angry? Why not focused on the good things they'd done and the good people they are, despite their shortcomings?". Let me share with you, that within one month, my attitude towards them shifted and changed somehow, there wasn't so much anger and resentment anymore, and I am now able to actually have normal conversations with them in love and understanding. Of course I still do have the frustrations once in a while, but it's more easily kept in check. Then I realized, they also have the same problem with each other! So, I'm slowly breaking the idea and news to them as they're more resistive to this idea.
It's very easy to get caught up in the unhappiness, the bitterness, the resentment, the pain; I assure you there are some people who does it so often they become used to it such that it's normal to them, and they take it as a part of life, often overlooking things that they can and should be grateful for.
See, that's why focus is so important. It influences and controls how you see and feel of the world, and what you will do about it. In fact, having focus on the right direction will also likely to save you and your family's life, because neuroscience research shows that whatever you focus on, you get more of it. An example is if you say "I don't want anymore broken relationships" but because you keep emphasising on "broken relationships", your brain receives the unquestioned command of "broken relationships" and you end up having more broken relationships, the things that you don't want in the first place. If you're working on a business (be it offline or an online business), focus on growing it and ignore the fear of it not growing.
Focus instead of where you want to go, ignore the fear. Turn your head and face the direction of where you want to go, regardless – it's easy to focus on the fear, on the potential pain, on the potential loss. Focus on where you want to go.
This is not the easiest to do, I know, but it gets easier as you go along. The first couple of times will be hard, but focus! And the subsequent times as you focus muscles become stronger, it'd be easier for you to use them =). Remember, whatever you think about you will experience more of.
Following the previous chapter on honing your ability to focus - one of the best ways to improve or increase your focus is harnessing the power of questions. Good questions, that is. Asking the right questions can save your life, as well as improve the quality of your living.
Here are some great questions that you can ask yourself, to steer you in the right direction, which is the path of personal development for progressive living.
If you have a challenge today that you need help solving, I've collated five questions to help guide you through the problem-solving process. Don't rush through these questions, take your time to reflect upon them to see what kind of insights you'll receive. Sometimes, asking the right questions leads to the right answer, or the right attitude.
Here are five more questions, leading questions that will lead you to asking more pertinent, deeper and important questions to help you get more out of life.
If you have difficulty answering any of the questions above, try to use the word "could." For example is "What could I be most happy in my life right now?"
To help me set my day, I also prepare for myself a specific set of questions (one set for morning, and another set for evening before I sleep); their purpose is to prepare me to have great days).
Great clarity is a gift, like light in a darkened room. You can immediately tell where things are, and how to get from point A to point B and/or to do what you need to do in the room without wasting time or injuring yourself if you were to grope in the dark (this is a good metaphor for how one will be lost without asking these questions).
These questions I used on myself whenever I face with a seemingly tough challenge or situation, such as when I was first placed in a position in the firm where my manager was pushing to back down or get out. Or when I had joint ventures with friends which project ended up flipping over. Or when our stint in business went sour. The questions, as easy as they seem on this page, is pretty tough to go through when you're in a state of shock, pain or denial. It's because of sheer focus that I asked myself those questions, running those questions through my head multiple times that I could find clarity in my thoughts during the mess of the time then.
I decided to leave the firm, and it started out as one of the first few best things of my life, even until today, which is four years later in 2008. When the joint ventures failed, I learned that it's not that easy to invest in joint ventures, and how I shouldn't take things for granted, and it led me to re-focus all my energies on both personal development and physiotherapy business, which then grew.
Asking yourself these questions, periodically, daily even, may change your life, for the better.
Our emotions will affect the way we feel physically, and most of you realize this too, either by experience or by observation. Let's take that one step higher – instead of just saying "I know when I feel bad/sad/lousy/fearful, my body becomes lethargic, tired, sluggish", why not use the converse. When your body moves with strength, speed and grace, shouldn't our emotions improve and become good/happy/confident/fearless? If the a = b, then definitely b = a too right?
All emotion are influenced and co-created by motion and momentum. The way we move, the way we carry ourselves, it influences and changes the way we think, feel, and act/behave. Movement and motion alters and influences our body's chemistry, from the tiniest movement such as a sideways smile to the larger movement such as dance or clapping.
Let's do a comparative analysis – take a person who is feeling down and out, depressed even. How would he or she look like, in your eyes. You've probably seen someone with depression, or you may had experienced it yourself, I know I did. When we're depressed, most of the time, we have a downward cast, head slumped, eyes to the floor. Our shoulders droop forwards and downwards, and we often have a sad face. To add to it, we feel sluggish, and don't feel like doing anything at all, like nothing in the world matters. We may breathe very shallowly, and everything seem to take so much effort.
Interestingly, the converse will work as well, even in someone with depression. If one takes regulated, deep breaths; put a wide smile and grin on their faces; move with more speed and purpose, it sets off multiple physiological processes in our body that not only make us feel really good about ourselves, it also increases our immune system. The increased deep and regulated breathing increases the oxygen content and flow in our bodies, and provides an additional abundance surplus of energy created by oxygenated processes at a cellular level, and hormones, enzymes, neurotransmitters are stimulated – it's an upward spiral.
This too, can and will be a very powerful tool, that can be used for you or against you. But the thing is, it's within your decision and power to choose how you want to harness this for your own good. Even I experienced it personally – like yourself, I am but a human being, and sometimes my emotions fluctuate and sometimes I don't feel like the best. I harness all the strategies I have, from changing my focus , to strengthening positive beliefs and tearing negative beliefs apart and asking myself better questions . I do these as often I need to, and regularly too, even today as you're reading it. Because I'm not perfect, I know.
Also, I choose to take regulated deep breathing, stand more upright, speak more surely and confidently and honestly, regardless of what I feel, and it slowly helped me to reinforce my focus, goals, confidence and mindset. It may seem weird and alien and "so not me" in the beginning, and I'm not asking you to be dishonest or lie to yourself or to others like a façade, but to start taking conscious and deliberate actions until these not-so-familiar movements become normal. Eventually, it becomes a habit of success physiology, eventually paving the way of personal development for progressive living.
Start now. Take regular, deep breaths – take 3-5 seconds to inhale, and 5 seconds to exhale. Don't rush this. Stand more upright. Walk with greater strides and purpose. Smile. Do this a minimal of three times a day, about 5 minutes each time, and slowly increase it to all the time, at your own pace.
Simple as it may sound, it is a fundamental habit that will help empower you. You can use it not only to increase your positive and empowering emotions and feelings, but you can also use it to disrupt/interrupt negative feelings such as feeling frustrated, feeling down and out. Do the same, and you'll see that it works because of its fundamentals in neurosciences (remember the hormones, enzymes and neurotransmitters?).
If you're not sure where to start or how to start, think of role models who you think is inspiring. With the advent of the internet, now you can access to YouTube and search for the inspiring role models, and watch how they speak, how they stand, how they walk. Imitate them. In fact, you can also be creative and imagine based on the stars of sports you enjoy – be it tennis (imagine Andre Agassi or the William sisters or whoever you choose), football (Beckham or Rooney or whoever you choose), basketball (be it Micheal Jordan or whoever you choose) and the list goes on – take note of how they behave and act when they have scored a goal or won a tournament. See their poise, their stance, the grin and the look on their face. You see it? Do it. And remember it.
As you do it, you will feel what they feel, albeit in different intensities (the more intense you put in, the more intense you feel/take out). Why this happens, as mentioned, it's neurosciences as above, but I'd like to add one more thing – the "mirror centre" in our brain will also mimic the emotion we see and feel strongly for, so you may feel more engaged emotionally (this explains why when you watch sad movies, you cry; and why you laugh when you watch comedies and funny moments etc).
Practical - Think about a dream, a goal that you have, it must be something that you really want, that you're aching for it. As you think about, start hoping and believing to receive it. Stand in the way you hope and believe for it i.e. you hope it comes and works…you hope it doesn't screw up and get blown up like the others. Take note of how you breathe when you're not so sure, and how you look like, as you hope. How do you feel your back and shoulders are as you hope? What do you picture in your head when you hope? Do you think or see it working or not? Go on, try it.
Do the same thing, but imagine that you're worried and concerned. Repeat the process of monitoring your physiology, your stance, your poise, your breathing.
Okay, time out. Take a deep breath, and see how your emotions affect your body. Let's now work on a state of feeling absolutely sure and certain and assured that it will come to pass. Think of your dream and your goal and stand and poise the way you would if you're super confirmed and certain that it will come to pass. How would your posture be? How would your breathing be like? How would your face look? What would your hands gesture when you're absolutely certain?
What's your posture right here, right now? Pretty different as when we tried the hope and worry practical right? How's your body feeling? Your breathing? When you're pretty certain and assured, you should feel quite "stable and secure" and balanced.
Question is, how can you do this everyday of your life? Same thing like just now – look for role models whose poise, posture and breathing and speaking inspires you. Model after their physiology and stance and posture, and you'll find that you'll model their peak performance in emotions and mental state as well. It's not just an airy-fairy thing you should "just brush off", it's something wired into each and every one of us. Use it in your personal development journey, beginning today. Now.
Our words are very powerful, because our words create our future. The words you choose to speak can either make or break you. I want to share with you how powerful words are: I grew up in a very poor, middle class family. We were comfortable, but we weren't rich (I'm using this as a story, I love my parents and family very, very much =p). Though we have two houses, and three cars, the real story is that we were actually liability-rich and cash-poor. When I moved to Singapore, I found that many of them over here have one house/apartment, but have cash-generating businesses and assets that bring them money over and over again.
I was perplexed and asked myself constantly "how did they do it?". I always thought it was sheer luck, sheer hard work, or some endowment of some sorts, but my curiosity was piqued, because I wanted to become very rich as well. I dove into books, reading books such as Science of Getting Rich, Richest Man In Babylon and a few others, but one of them that stood out was Rich Dad Poor Dad, and one of the chapters, the author Robert shared that we need to be wary of the words we speak, as our words become our reality.
He compared the words used by poor people, which often include words such as "I can't afford it", "it's too expensive" and "you think money grow on trees?" and compared them to the words used by his rich dad, which included "how can I afford these (more expensive assets/things)", "how can I make more money delivering more value to more people" and "how can I be more generous?" He said the words of the poor disempowers them financially, and shuts the brain down, and the brain stops/don't tap on its resource centre for financial growth. He said that by asking "how", we unlock the resource centre in our brains to provide the answers we seek. Also, if you're a Christian, you'd read in the bible that God created the world with His words; and as Christians, we're to create our world (destiny and future) too, with our words.
So choose the right words to speak, as they can make or break your life. As an Asian, I'm very used to a culture where we often say "die" and "die already" or "I'll die", all of which are very negative words. Instead of saying that, I've gradually changed my choice of words to "challenging" and "interesting" and "oh ho ho, that's gonna be fun!," and it doesn't seem so bad or tough anymore!
Okay, maybe it seems like I'm overly simplifying things – is it true that it's so simple that just tweaking what we speak daily can change my life? Of course it's not everything, it's one of the factors that contribute to success in personal development for progressive living, it's one of the strategies and pillars!
But the truth of the matter is that words have the power to change how we feel, and how we feel will influence how we act and behave, and that will influence habits, and habits, our character and our destiny. So yes, it's a big thing. That's why till today, the words of Martin Luther King talking about his dream still rings strongly, and evokes strong emotions even till today. Words change and influence the way we feel and life, yet, often we're not aware nor conscious of the words we use everyday that affects our lives and the lives of those around us.
For example, compare the difference in what you feel when someone comes up to you and vehemently accuses you of being a liar and extremely evil/wrong, and if someone comes up to you and says that "maybe you're mistaken about something" – the tone, emotion, everything – is different isn't it? Just by choosing different words, you can change the way you think and feel in but a moment, isn't it?
Of course the converse is true too – you can up the intensity, frequency and duration of the happiness and good emotions by changing the way you describe them. Choose to feel "great" instead of "okay" and "super" instead of "alright".
Practical - So, it's time to update some of your vocabulary.
Activity #1: making negative words more positive - Come up with a list of words that are negative/end up in causing you to feel bad or lousy. Then think of words that you could use instead. They could be "angry", "annoyed", "disappointed", "shitty", "terrible" and the like…and opt instead for words such as "stimulated", "delayed", "that's…nice", and "different". So instead of saying, "I'm really angry right now!", change it to "I'm really stimulated right now." See the difference? One makes your blood boil, one puts a positive and productive spin and outlook on it immediately.
Activity #2: making positive words more positive and impacting - Come up with a list of positive words that empower you, such as "cool", "good", "alright", "tasty", "lucky" and "alert"…and supercharge them into more powerful words such as "amazing", "great", "super", "yummy", "ultra blessed" and "energized"!
Start using your newer vocabulary as soon and as often as you can. Make sure you're having a ball of a time rather than just "passing time". =)
Have you ever heard of people making negative statements and metaphors such as "I'm at the end of my road now", or "I swim like a brick" or something along that line. These are all called metaphors – metaphors are a description of what you're feeling. Really, they're a quick way to super-sum whatever you're experiencing at that particular moment/season of your life.
And without surprise, different kinds of metaphors bring about different things – much like the article (Start Where You Are #08: Speak The Words Of Success) before this, on choosing the right words, this article is more like choosing the right catchphrase or statements of faith to feed your mind. For example two different persons facing a same challenge in life, and one says "life's always a battle" and the other says "life's fun because of challenges" – they're two very distinct and different ways of viewing the world. In fact, they're actually exact opposites of each other!
If you described life as a battle, you'd probably imagine and think and believe that everyone is out to beat and kill and best each other, and always fighting. On the other hand, if you think that life's really fun because of challenges, then you might believe that you can have fun with life and people!
Like words, Choose Metaphors That Makes A Positive Difference in your life; every metaphor is a statement of faith and belief, so when you choose a metaphor to describe your life, it's likely you're subscribing to its belief system as well. That's why you should choose wisely and with care the metaphors you use to describe your world, be it when you describe it to yourself or to anyone else.
My wife, Louise, is an amazing woman. One day as I was feeling down and depressed and out on facing the challenges in our life, looking over facts and figures, she came over to me and plonked herself next to me and looked into my eyes, and held my hand.
Then she said, "Nigel, it's only a game. Learn its rules and soon enough you'll be master at it."
That statement of faith changed my state of mind and feelings there and then, and I instantly knew she was right, and that we will get better at what we do, and we'd get from okay to good to great!
Right now you may say, so what, my world is pretty rough on me right now – how can you turn it around into words and metaphors that energizes and empowers you? Maybe you can say instead that "the world looks to you positively", or that "you move the world" or something along that line.
Practical - how would you describe your world? Is it a game? Is it a battlefield? Is it a dance? What does that mean? Would it be fun? Or bleary? What do you think you would need to do to make your life whatever you'd like it to be?
Setting goals can and will change and build your future. If there is such thing as luck, it'd seem as though the harder I prepare and work on the strategies and actions to bring me to my goals, the luckier I seem to get. There is no magic bullet around it, just to set a goal that is your desire, and taking immediate and huge actions that brings you closer and closer to that goal.
Some people will think it as a stroke of luck, or being in the right place at the right time, but I assure you, nothing beats having a goal and the persistence of wanting it to come to pass. What goals do is they become the blueprints of our actions and decisions, like a compass that brings us to our destinations, goals being the destination on the blueprint. It keeps us focused on our goals.
Choosing and setting a goal may just cause minor and minuscule changes in our life's directions and plans at first…but like those large tankers at sea, or those large boeing planes, with just some refining and tweaking of perhaps 3-5 degrees will not be very obvious at first. Give it about a couple of hours or days, and you'd see that such a minor change as that can mean arrival in different continents and countries entirely.
When I first embarked on my journey of personal development, for progressive living, I had to make a lot of decisions to change, and set workable goals. Not just one or two, but more than four, such as relationships, finances, business and spiritual matters – and these are huge areas of life to work in! But one thing is surely important – the success of the implementation and execution depends very much on doing things that brought me closer to the goals on a consistent basis. Nothing beats consistency and persistency, ever.
You see, people who succeed all dedicate themselves to continuous personal development and self growth. And they don't compare externally with other people, other businesses or whatnot. They always compare themselves to who they can be, the best of their lives. That's why I named this site NigelChua.com | Personal Development for Progressive Living. It's a progressive process of personal development that allows us progress as we live. If you can dedicate yourself to this philosophy of progressive and continuous personal development, I would dare say that you will not only grow in happiness, but you will also succeed in life, no matter what you do.
I'm no way saying that you'd be attaining nirvana or become perfect, nor everything becomes easy on the spot. Pace yourself in this journey of personal development and pursuit of success – how does one eat an elephant? Answer: one bite a time. Success is very much like an elephant, take it one step a time. To make it better, give thanks and celebrate with every successful step of the way, be it big or small.
What makes some people very willing to give all their best and all they have, whereas others hold back? Why does some take action even though they're afraid? Why do some overcome seemingly impossible odds? How do they rise up after a fall?
They do it because they believe their dream is worth fighting for. They have a dream of a future that is so good, nothing will stop them. They would make decisions that they will keep, and taking one step a time until they reach their dreams and goals.
If you had one, it's time to bring it up again. If you don't, then set some time aside to have some conducive and productive time where you can map out your goals and dreams. Spend some time, don't rush it in a comfortable space, turn off all distractions and write down what you'd like to do, who'd you like to be, and where you'd like to go. This could be one of the best things of your life. Don't limit yourself (of course you need to be realistic, but anything is possible) because anything you set your heart, soul and mind to, you can achieve it.
Be very specific, the more details, the better. As you write, some of the things that you write will be things that you had thought about for a long time, just never found the habit or time to actually write them down on a paper. Some of them would be things you'd never dream or think about before. But know that you need to decide what and where you want, because first knowing what you want determines and influences what you will get. Before something is created physically, it is first created in the mind.
This is a practical session. Pretend right now it's a time of gift exchange, and it's your time to receive gifts and presents without limits. Be bold and dream big. Write down all your dreams, and all the things you want to do, share, give and be. Imagine all the places, people and things you want to have and be a part of in your life. No need to figure HOW yet, just focus on writing down the what and where that you want. Then, go over this list and estimate when you can achieve those goals and dreams – give yourself time frames of months, years and decades. Then pick four that you can do this year. Choose those four that you are most excited and you think would give you the most satisfaction…and the reason why you will definitely achieve them. Why is more important than the how, because why will be the reason that propels you forward each day.
Lastly, describe the kind of person you'd be to reach and attain these goals. Will it require more character (e.g. love, compassion, patience) or action-oriented (e.g. energy, drive etc).
This is the most important exercise in this entire series, you can do this as often as you require and please. In fact, the more you do it, the more it will enable you to take more charge and control over your own mind by not allowing you to ruminate or hold negative thoughts.
Ready? Here's the rules of this practical:
The goal over here is ten days in a row without ruminating or focusing on a negative thought, if you think of negative stuff for more than five minutes, you must start over. The benefits of this practical includes: clarity – you'd see mental habits that has been holding you back; increase in resourcefulness – your brain becomes more wired to resource; confidence-jolt – you will feel an immediate increase in confidence; and you will create newer and better habits in your life that will elevate your standard of living and help you grow in your journey of personal development for progressive living, every day.
Congrats for reading all the way to the end – now, I'd like to extend a different challenge to you, sort of an invitation of sorts, if you will. We started out with the idea that one of the best ways to personal development and progressive living and solve our own problems and create our own happiness is to help someone else who's in a tough position, better still if they're in a tougher situation that your own.
Many times, when I hear people speak and complain about their problems and how tough or difficult their lives are, and how complex and unsolvable their problems are, I try to disrupt/interrupt this mental habit, by sending them to someone who has a worse problem than theirs. Of course, most of the time, they won't believe me that there's someone worse than them, which is not true. Those who had just lost their jobs or homes, it's not as tough as someone who'd just lost a loved one. Those who are financially broke, it's not as tough as someone living on the streets eating scraps from rubbish bins. Those who are passed over for promotions, there are many who live from shelter to shelter and from the hospitality of hawkers and foodshops.
We are truly blessed and lucky.
Do that. Seek out one (or more) persons who are in a more dire need or position than yourself, and give them without expecting a reward (because they may not be in a position to give) or a praise (they may be in too much pain, distraction or grief), but do so for the sake of making a positive difference in the life of another. It's more fun and fulfilling than you think.
How to do this? There are many ways you can do this – from going to that old folks home en route to work and playing a guitar and singing songs for the residents to just spending time with them, to helping an elderly across the road, to looking through your phone and email list to touch base with someone you hadn't meet for a long time, to looking for someone who doesn't have a family, or someone who hasn't been visited in a long time. Put on a big wide smile, and go there and just spend some time with them (an hour or so) finding out about them, who they are, what they do and did. For a total stranger, he or she will be thoroughly, and totally blessed and be very, very glad (of course, there are those who are they grumpy sort – but it's okay too =p).
This is close to the ending of this series, in the meantime, take care of yourself well, because the better you care for yourself, the more you can give to another. Better still, create your best life in your journey of personal development for conscious and courageous living.