Foundations of Success

“A man’s life is what his thoughts make of it…”
Marcus Aurelius

Take a moment, close your eyes, and imagine being in the middle of a fresh garden filled with lush greenery, colorful, fragrant flowers and an inviting fountain. Picture yourself standing at the foot of a sturdy mountain with clear, cool streams and lakes surrounding you. Visualize your toes wriggling around in the warm, white, sand of a secluded beach with tall, green palm trees swaying in the breeze and the sound of the majestic ocean flowing on and off the shore.

What emotions did these scenarios evoke in you? How did your body respond? Most people report feelings of well-being, happiness, contentment, peace and calm when focusing their attention on beauty. The body also reacts in response to where we place our mental energy. It is not uncommon for our breathing to slow down, our hearts to beat more evenly and our muscles to become more relaxed.

You may be reading this article in your doctor’s office or in your favorite chair at home. Nothing changed about your surroundings. All you did was re-focus your thoughts. Your thoughts and feelings affect your emotional and physical state. Understanding this will enable you to achieve a more abundant, successful and contented life.

Your thoughts are composed of tiny building blocks called “words.” The words you use have a huge impact on the direction of your thoughts. Affirmative, positive words followed by action fuel success. The key is to build a positive, affirming vocabulary. Where do you start in changing your vocabulary? I encourage you to eliminate words like “should,”  “can’t,” and “difficult/hard” immediately.

Any words that steal away your choices and give the impression that you are stuck in your circumstances must be banished. Replace these terms with joy-filled, pleasant, uplifting, encouraging words that you yourself love to hear, such as: Valuable, “Yes”, I can…, I am…., Loved, Accepted, Important. Experiment by closing your eyes and saying each word aloud. Notice how you react to these words emotionally and physically.

People often tell me the things they don’t want in their lives anymore. Concentrating on the past and what you don’t want keeps you in a negative place filled with frustration. Give energy and focus to the things you do want instead. For example, don’t say “I don’t want to fight with my spouse.” Instead, say “I want to have a loving, peaceful, fulfilling relationship with my spouse.”

“A man is what he thinks about all day long…”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

As you strive for success, believe that you have already achieved your goals. Tell yourself that you are wealthy, educated, accomplished, loved, etc. Your behavior will follow. I encourage you to complete the “I am…” exercise.

Make a list of all of the things that you desire for every aspect of your life—physical, spiritual, relational, intellectual, and psychological. List each item using the present tense. This will help you paint a mental picture of success and achievement, which inevitably will help you re-direct your emotions, thoughts and behavior in a positive direction toward the attainment of that success and achievement.

“Be aware of what you want for you will get it…”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Most importantly, feed a spirit of thankfulness and gratitude in all that you do. Focus on the things that are going right for you. From the time you wake up in the morning until the time you close your eyes at night, make it your mission to find the good in all that is around you. This will enable you to create a more optimistic, positive attitude, which will attract more abundance into your life.

You may not be able to control your circumstances, but you are the architect of your thoughts. Now is the time to design a masterpiece.

Focus your thoughts and energy on that which is excellent and inspiring, and abundance and success will be yours.

Carrie Ann Cherup, MA, LCPC, is a licensed clinical professional counselor and clinical director of the Hope Enrichment Center in Oak Lawn, IL.

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