Could you use a little magic in your life? Are there things you want, but they seem elusive, slipping through your fingers each time you reach for them? There is a piece of magic that can change all that. It’s your beliefs. Here’s how to harness it in your life.
Belief: Imagined? Real? And Does It Matter?
Consider the following examples of the power of belief. It matters not what the belief is or whether it’s real, just that you leverage it for the power it will deliver.
- A devout Christian, St. Francis of Assisi, prayed to share in the suffering of Christ. He lived his life as Jesus in service of the poor and the sick. In 1224, two years before his death, he had an angelic vision, after which he received stigmata, a spontaneous appearance of the five wounds that Jesus suffered. Whether the stigmata was miraculous or from his own body, the power of his belief was behind either cause.
- A friend of my brother died in high school from lymphoma. His mother was so completely distraught, completely devastated, and unable to see any joy in life. She only wanted to be reunited with her son. Within one to two years of his death her health continually declined and ultimately resulted in her early passing. Most would say this is a sad story and it is. But it points to the power of our mind and our beliefs. It can bring about both good and unfortunate outcomes. (Although, from his mom’s perspective, she got what she wanted so desperately, to be reunited with her son in heaven, so calling it unfortunate depends on your perspective.)
- A few years ago a company called Power Balance invented bracelets and necklaces that claim to maximize energy, improve balance, and relieve stress. (They devised a physical test to prove their results.) In 2007 they gave these bracelets to professional athletes and now they are everywhere and are worn by many athletes who swear by the results. But then there are other people and athletes who notice no change in performance. So why the difference in experience? It all comes down to whether or not you believe the bracelet possesses these special powers that determines its effectiveness.
- There was a study in 2000 by Clark, et al. that tested the belief in carbo-loading for long-distance cyclists. What they found is that the cyclists who believed they received the “special carbs” drink performed better than those who were told they did not get the “special carbs.” This was all regardless of whether they actually got the “special carbs” drink or not. The food received mattered not, but their beliefs about whether they got the “special stuff” determined their performance! Wow!
- Herschel Walker, one of the most talented athletes of recent times, has a regimen that is quite extraordinary. Every morning (yes, 365 days a year) since he was a young teenager, he rises early in the morning to do a full body weight workout that includes 2500 situps and 1500 push-ups. (Yes, in one workout.) He proceeds with his day eating nothing until dinner which consists of salad and bread. (He is a vegetarian.) According to Walker, he doesn’t worry about how much protein he gets. He believes in hard work, just getting things done, and that the rest will fall in place. And his belief has worked for him. He went from being bullied to excelling in both track and football in high school and college. He went from being regarded as “slow” because of a speech impediment to graduating from high school as the class valedictorian. He won the Heisman Trophy in 1982. In both the NFL and the USFL, Walker racked up the highest total yards in football history. He competed in the Olympics bobsled. He was successful in professional MMA matches even as he approached age 50. And he even tried his hand at ballet. His secret? His belief in himself that he can do anything he sets his mind to. (Wow, right?)
- In 1985, Joe Simpson, a mountain climber, endured a horrible catastrophe while climbing the 20,000 foot Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes. Long story short, he was left for dead by his climbing partner with a broken leg to get down the treacherous mountain alone with no food or water. In one of the most amazing survival stories ever, Joe managed to hop, hobble, and crawl his way down over a period of three days. He lost 40% of his body weight during this ordeal. What kept him going was he was determined not to die alone. He was focused on that one thought which provided the power to propel him forward step after excruciating step.
So What Can Belief Do For You?
If you make the choice and decide to take the risk, to believe with a laser focus then you can achieve those dreams of yours. Here’s how to do this:
- Choose what you want – what you really want. Drill down to get at the core of what you really want and to make your efforts laser focused. If you say you want to be happy drill down on that.
What does happiness mean to you?
-Do you want to look good?
-Exactly how do you want to look and feel?
Do you want a good relationship?
-What does that look like?
-Define it down to the last detail.
Key distinction: make sure it’s what YOU want not what everyone else and society thinks you should want.
- Be realistic but don’t limit yourself. Don’t be so “realistic” that you limit yourself from doing things that may be a stretch for you but are possible – especially if you really want them. (Maybe you want to go to Mars – who knows, maybe you can through astral travel. The point is don’t deem your dream impossible without giving it a chance. Reread the stories above. If you want it and believe in it strongly enough, you can get there.)
- Your goals should revolve around what you can control. Having a goal to change another person can be difficult. It’s okay to have goals that involve other people but be ready to release or change those goals if that person does not share your goals.
- Be committed and unafraid of failure. This is where many of us find our dreams slipping through our fingers. At the first, second, or 20th sign of difficulty we resign ourselves to failure thinking, “It’s just not going to work for me.” At each point of difficulty that is precisely where your belief and focused mind comes into play. To you difficulty should be no omen of “failure.” It should serve to strengthen your resolve. Your belief in accomplishing your goals should be a singular point of power and unwavering focus in your mind at all times. Develop your mantra around your belief. Repeat it often. Be glued to it. Be married to it. Be one with it.
- Associate the work with the outcome. To realize a dream often requires hard work, whether it’s physical, a mental focus or both. The important thing here is to keep the work from becoming drudgery. The work should continually be associated in your mind with the outcome you desire. You should associate the work with the joy of getting closer to your dream. See the work as a privilege. Let it be a light in your day.
- Beware of limiting beliefs. Beliefs are powerful whether they serve you well or bring detriment to your life. So watch out for those sneaky beliefs that are so ingrained in your mindset that you don’t even notice them. For instance, let’s say you are dieting to achieve a healthier weight. You may have the belief that says something like “If I feel hungry then I must quickly find food and eat it before I start to feel famished!” This is a belief that many of us have and it’s a good one to squash.
A better food belief is “If I feel hunger – first of all I will not panic. I will examine that hunger: Is it a false hunger brought on by a commercial for the food or the smell of someone else eating ? Is it stemming from boredom or stress? I will determine the true needs I am experiencing and know that false hunger will pass without catastrophe. There’s always going to be the next meal and enough food.” This is so much more empowering.
Another dis-empowering belief to watch out for is the general “I’m not good enough.” For what? Anything, you name it.
– getting the dream job
– getting the sale
– getting the girl
– getting the raise
– getting respect from others
Just stop that mental loop now! Change it to: “I am good enough. I do my best and I deserve good things. And good things will come my way in the long run.” Repeat it often enough and you’ll start to believe it.
So What Beliefs Will You Change?
What do you really want that has seemed just out of reach for a long time? If you want it, go for it! Don’t fear failure. There is value in the journey no matter the exact outcome. Take that chance! Don’t give up no matter what! You got nothing to lose but potential joy.
What are your dreams? What are your beliefs? Are you planning any changes in your approach? Looking forward to hearing about your dreams in the comments below or via Facebook or Twitter!