For many, having success in life comes from developing the right attitude. Reprogramming the way you think and the way you feel can lead to new opportunities and a greater sense of purpose that you never would have come across otherwise. Regardless of how you personally define success, you can work on empowering yourself by training your brain.
1. Stop telling yourself that you can’t succeed. Start telling yourself you can
We’ve easily all heard the old adage “Whether you tell yourself you can or you can’t, you’re right.” Now, before you criticize me for perpetuating a falsehood, I’ll be the first to admit that the thought isn’t true about everything. No matter how much I tell my body that it can grow to be ten feet tall, I’m probably going to stay at just above five feet for the rest of my life. I’m short and that’s just life. But, an attitude of “that’s just life” doesn’t accurately apply to most of the aspects we care about. Even if you’re poor, you can work hard and seek for a better-paying job. Even if you don’t have any family members, you can seek out individuals who will love and support you. Even if you have some genetic conditions that make it hard to lose weight, you can work hard to be healthy and to be your best self. Even if this, even if that, you can.
Don’t ever limit your potential again. The world may be full of haters, but you don’t have to ever join in on the conversation. Tell yourself you can accomplish your goals and then put forth all of the effort required to make your dreams a reality. You may have a rockier road ahead of you than someone who started in a different position, but that’s no reason to watch life pass you by. Stand up for yourself and persevere, thinking positively and telling yourself encouraging truths every step of the way.
2. Stop saying you don’t have time. Start scheduling your time based on your priorities
We hear these kinds of useless and victimized thoughts all the time: “I don’t have time to go the gym,” “I don’t have time to cook” and “I don’t have time to talk.” Parenthetically, this is probably my biggest pet peeve in life. I hate hearing “I don’t have time to do that.” The real issue is not about having no time to do something; the issue is about having no motivation to make that something a priority.
I completely understand that the no-time excuse is often meant as an innocent way to avoid doing something undesirable, but when someone starts to actually believe in that sentiment, it’s when that person has given up their power as an agent to act rather than be acted upon. You have twenty-four hours in your day and I have twenty-four hours in mine.
If you don’t want to go to the gym this week, that’s fine–but that’s a choice you’re making and not a situation that has been dealt to you by some external force that is out of your control. Instead of weakening your inner courage and strength every time you justify behavior by rationalizing a lack of time, I hope you will reprogram your brain to recognize what activity you prioritized. If you’re happy about the prioritizations as they are, great. If you’re unhappy when you carefully analyze what you’re scheduling in and what you’re leaving out, then change your habits accordingly.
3. Stop saying she made me mad. Start taking accountability for your reactions
When a co-worker said hurtful comments about you, she didn’t make you mad. She was rude, but you chose to be mad. You’re not hopeless, helpless or unempowered so don’t try to convince yourself otherwise. Being angry is a choice and so is being happy. You can’t control everything that happens on the outside, but you’re in charge of what takes place on the inside. The way you process and react to situations is up to you. In life, you may experience challenging, traumatic and painful events that are totally out of your control, but your mental and emotional reactions are still up to you.
We obviously understand this principle in the extreme: it’s a choice to commit a felony and no decent judge will accept a “he made me do it” plea as a statement of innocence. Holding on to feelings of anger and grief is a decision that you make, one which unfortunately compels you to continue suffering from the initial incident longer than someone who decides to use her agency to move on. Life can be sad, hard and trying, but you don’t have to perpetuate the misery thinking that “she made me this way.” When rough times come, use your mental powers to move forward and to heal.
4. Stop complaining about what’s wrong. Start fixing what you can change
Like we discussed earlier, there are things like genetics that are largely out of our control. You can spend the rest of your life cursing these factors or you can accept those facts and improve every facet that you can. Instead of wasting your life by incessantly complaining about everything that isn’t ideal, get in the driver’s seat and make the most of what you do have.
When you feel the urge to vent come over you, consider what about the frustrating topic is in your control and what is out of your control so you can proceed appropriately. If your friend continually makes plans with you and then bails when he gets a better offer, you can’t change their behavior but you can change yours. If the risk of them standing you up is too great, perhaps you want to only schedule hangouts with them when you have a group getting together so the party will continue on either way. Or, maybe you’ll be happier if you both just go your separate ways. Find a solution that works for you based on the choices you can make rather than staying bothered about what’s out of your control.
If you really want to be happy in life and find success, reprogram your brain for success so that you become empowered and capable, using your agency to transform your life into the best that it can be. Little by little, day by day, you can take the necessary steps to become the person you’ve always wanted to be.