Principle 1 – Fix Your Mind

November 10, 2020

We are what we think.

Thinking is flawed.

Fix your thinking.

Methods to fix your thinking

There are many methods to fix your thinking, do not constrain yourself to one. Do your research. Personally, I look to the following:

  • Stoicism
  • Buddhism
  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness
  • Psychoanalysis
  • Cognitive behavior therapy

While I am studying to familiarize myself with all of these methods, I will focus this writing on Stoicism, which was one of the first methods I found to fix my thoughts.

Stoic concepts

The Stoics had two key concepts on thinking and happiness:

A. Circles of influence

B. Event versus perception

Circles of influence

Stephen Covey wrote about this in the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. He noted that we have a circle of concern, things we care about but can’t control, and a circle of influence, things we care about and can impact.

This is also reflected in the serenity prayer: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference

He noted that by focusing on the circle of influence we will be happier + more productive.

Event versus perception

It is not things that upset is, it is how we react to things that upsets us.

Additionally, as I’ve heard @TonyRobbins say “It is not an event that matters, but rather an event relative to our expectations of the event”.

Again, mentally focused.

Stoic mental techniques

The Stoics recognized that we can control our mind and provided a framework to do so.

As an example, cognitive behavioral therapy traces its roots back to Stoic Philosophy.

These techniques are discussed below.

Audit your thoughts

When you think something negatively, as an example, write it down and consider it before giving it “assent”.

Challenge the thought first. Write three to four more logical thoughts and give assent to the best of them.

The key is assent, or permission. Until you’ve tested a thought and audited, it, you should not to accept it.

Once you have determined it is an appropriate thought, you can accept it. Hold on to it.

Journal daily

Write what happened to you during the day – the good, the bad, and your reactions to the events.

Use this journaling to examine your performance as a professional athlete would evaluate their game play.

For example, did you have a situation where someone did something that angered you. Did you react as you’d like?

If you did not react the way that you liked, how can you change your behavior? How can you react better next time.

By examining ourselves in this method, we can become who we want to become. We can modify our behaviors.

Imagine negative events in advance

Marcus Aurelius, Emperor of Rome, started each day reflecting on how many ill-mannered, angry and sad, people he would meet that day.

He recognized it wasn’t intentional. They were caught up in their illogical minds, their mistaken judgments.

They, he expected, would not have done the work needed to fix their mind, as you will. As you are.

By fixing your mind and understanding how others have not, you may be more empathetic.

Amor Fati – embrace your fate

When we expect things from the world, we are often disappointed.

When we recognize that what happens to us happens to us for a reason, we respond accordingly.

In reading Zen and the art of happiness, I recall a beautiful line that encapsulates this: whatever happens, happens for the best possible reason.

By accepting our fate. By embracing it. By recognizing that whatever happens happens for the best possible reason, we are calmer. We are happier.

Embrace your fate.

Memento Mori – we all die

Stoics recognized a truth, we all die.

Many of them imagined their death, or the death of their loved ones, in advance.

By premeditating on death, Stoics were able to release themselves of the fear of their death and to accept it.

By accepting that death was inevitable and removing the fear of it, Stoics were able to live their lives to the fullest.

Parting thoughts

This is but a beginning.

If you feel trapped by your thinking.

By the roommate that is in your head.

Read up on Stoicism. Read up on cognitive behavior therapy.

Do not feel trapped within your own mind. By learning to control our thinking, we can start our journey.

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