An Essay on Motivation
by Susan Smith Jones, PhD ©
Excerpts from Walking on Air and The Joy Factor
Thoughts create a new haven, a new firmament, a new source of energy, from which new arts flow.
Live Life to its Fullest
Do you want to live life to the fullest or are you content to just go along with the crowd and settle for whatever comes your way? Your thoughts and beliefs have a strong correlation with every aspect of your life. This is one point upon which brain researchers, physicists, psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors and educators agree. Put simply, you’ll get that which you truly believe in and desire.
Take a moment to close your eyes, breathe in deeply and slowly, and scan all the different areas of your life. Is your life a wonderful adventure, filled with celebration and joy? Are your relationships loving and nurturing? Do you enjoy your work and find genuine fulfillment in it? Are you experiencing optimum health and vitality? Is your body lean, strong and finely tuned? More important, are you living a life filled with serenity and peace, sparkling with happiness? If you answered “no” to any of these questions, then this article is written just for you.
Swimming with the Dolphins
A few years ago I had an amazing experience that showed me the tremendous power of thought and bringing your dreams to fruition. I was accustomed to going to the beach for an invigorating swim a few times each week, very early, and this was a splendid morning just before sunrise. After some stretching exercises and a short run, I was ready for my swim. Because it was the end of summer, the water was still comfortably warm. But this morning there was something in the air that I couldn’t quite identify. I felt it deep inside me—a shiver of anticipation, a faint knowing that today would be different, that this day would be one I would remember the rest of my life. I went out into the ocean, rode a few waves, and then swam past the swells.
I was aware of the peacefulness of the water. Sparkling and resplendent, it rejuvenated my body and soul with each stroke. A few minutes later some old friends joined me, a group of pelicans who seemed to enjoy escorting me. These marvels of nature have always enthralled me. They were gliding flawlessly a few feet above my head, their wingspan so large that they almost eclipsed the light, when suddenly they flew away. Surprised, I waved good-bye as I turned over to begin the backstroke. It was then I saw something that made my heart plummet.
A large, dark, frightening fin was heading straight for me. Shark! I looked toward the beach. No one was there. I had always taken for granted that I would stay calm in a life-threatening situation. But not this time! As the fin continued in my direction, I simply froze and treaded water. I was so terrified, I couldn’t swim away or even cry out. And then it happened—a sight that will forever warm my heart and soul. The fin danced out of the water. It was a dolphin, and it was followed by a school of about two dozen more!
Less than two weeks before, I had watched a television documentary on dolphins. During my meditation that evening, I had visualized myself swimming and playing with a school of dolphins. I accepted and affirmed that that was my desire and reality. I then thanked God for this wonderful experience.
There in the ocean that morning, the dolphins stayed with me for a full half-hour, swimming, jumping out of the water, and jumping over me. I swam underwater with them, listening to their mellifluous sounds, touching their skin, feeling a connection and an exchange of love. For what seemed like hours, nothing else existed except my world of dolphins. I was oblivious to any thought of the past or future and lived right in the moment, rejoicing in the thrill of discovery.
Then, as quickly as they had arrived, the dolphins swam off, and I was left alone and immensely grateful. I swam back to shore, where by now a group of people had gathered, captivated by my dance with the dolphins. I answered many questions and tried to share what the experience had been like for me, but I found it very hard to put my feelings into words. Ineffable experiences that speak directly to the heart are often difficult to express clearly.
The others drifted away and I just sat there, enveloped in wonder at the experience of swimming with dolphins, and all I could do was cry—what had happened touched me so lovingly, so profoundly. What a beautiful lesson in living in the present and appreciating each moment. Because of that experience and so many others, I will never doubt the power of thought and belief to create any reality we choose.
Make a Choice
It’s time to make a choice. I am going to ask you the same question I mentioned above. Do you want to live life to the fullest, or are you content to just go along with the crowd and settle for whatever comes your way? It’s always your choice. As Abraham Lincoln so aptly wrote, “We’re just about as happy as we make up our minds to be.” We adults cannot blame our unhappiness on the environment, our upbringing, our family or friends, our jobs or anything else. We need to take responsibility for ourselves to be all we can be. George Bernard Shaw would probably agree. He said, “People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want and if they can’t find them, make them.”
In order to become responsible, it is imperative we take a close look at the effect our thoughts and beliefs have on our lives. We each have a conscious mind and a subconscious mind, both of which are responsible for our actions in life. Neither works independently. We are the sum total of all our experiences from the time of our birth until right now.
The conscious mind is the one you use when you analyze, reason and make decisions in your life. The subconscious mind is a storage house for all your experiences, your previous programming and conditioning. The subconscious part of your mind has been influencing your every decision—sometimes in opposition to your conscious desires.
These conflicts occur because the subconscious has little or no reasoning power. It is simply operating like a computer. It functions according to the way it was programmed. In other words, it helps bring into actuality the reality for which it was programmed. Operating like a computer, the subconscious is constantly being fed new programming or data with every thought. Thus you create your own reality with your thoughts, and this reality can be either positive or negative depending on what you are thinking.
All that you have ever dreamed, thought or needed in your life has contributed to what you have at this very moment. So if things aren’t just the way you would like them to be, and you want to change them, you must change your thoughts and the words you speak to express those thoughts. Start to reprogram yourself. Andrew Carnegie put it this way, “Any idea that is held in the mind that is either feared or revered will begin at once to clothe itself in the most convenient and appropriate physical forms available.”
Set Up a Positive Magnetic Force
The visions and images you hold in your marvelous mind instantly set up a magnetic or attractive force, which governs the experiences in your life. If your image is constantly fluctuating, you will continually be growing into something different, and that sets in motion a most chaotic process. Unfortunately, those individuals who are unaware of these very exact and precise laws are planting images of health or prosperity in their minds one minute, and then images of the opposite the next. It’s very difficult to attract the good in your life when you continually switch from positive to negative thoughts. Strive to keep focused on only those positive things you want to be part of your life.
Take a typical day. When you wake up, are you excited and enthusiastic about the new day? Or are you reluctant, preoccupied with the discordant alarm, the hurry and traffic on the way to work, job dissatisfaction and dissatisfaction with yourself in general? Those negative thoughts can persist all during the day. And if you think these thoughts don’t add up, you’d better think again.
According to the National Science Foundation, you think thousands of thoughts every day—in fact, about 1,000 an hour. The ordinary human being thinks about 12,000 thoughts a day. A deeper thinker, according to this report, generates about 50,000 thoughts. So imagine that fifty percent of the time you are positive in your thoughts. For many of you, that means 25,000 negative thoughts are being added to your programming every day. And these thoughts are influencing the reality you have created for yourself.
Keep in mind that although the subconscious programs us, it doesn’t reason and it doesn’t have a sense of humor. Rather, it works to create the reality according to the programming it has been fed. This is normally accomplished by thoughts and through your life experiences, but brain researchers have found that since the subconscious is incapable of telling the difference between reality and fantasy, between the real experience and the imagined experience, it also programs your goals, aspirations, beliefs and other attitudes you have about life.
At the University of Chicago a study was done on the relationship of visualization to sports ability. Subjects were divided into three groups and basketball was the sport used in the experiment. At the beginning all the participants were tested as to their individual basket-shooting ability and the results were recorded. Then Group One was told, “You are each to practice shooting baskets for twenty minutes a day for twenty days.” Group Two was told, “Don’t play any basketball for twenty days. In fact, just forget about basketball for the entire time.” Group Three was told, “You are to spend twenty minutes a day imagining you are successfully shooting baskets. Do this every day for twenty days. See every detail of your accomplishments in your mind.”
At the conclusion, the three groups were tested again. Group Two members, who hadn’t played basketball for twenty days, showed no improvement. Group One members, who had been practicing twenty minutes a day for twenty days, showed a twenty-four percent improvement in their basket-shooting ability. Group Three members, who had only imagined that they were successfully shooting baskets for twenty minutes a day, showed a twenty-three percent improvement in their actual basket-shooting ability—only one percentage point less than the group that had actually been practicing!
The subconscious can be programmed to procure the results you desire. With this knowledge, you can work on any area of your life. Here are some practical steps you can take.
A couple of times a day, especially when you wake up in the morning and just before you go to sleep at night, create some mental movies (creative visualization) that star yourself. Be as specific and precise as you can. For example, if you are working in an area that involves other people, include them in your movie. Use your imagination and visualize all the details you can.
See yourself behaving exactly as you wish to behave in real life. Experience it, enjoy it and see it just the way you would like it to be. See yourself relaxed, confident and feeling positive about yourself. Go through the entire movie and, when you get to the end, experience how wonderful it feels to have behaved in such a positive manner.
The key is to see and experience only the way you would like it to be—successful and positive. You can choose to work on one goal at a time or several goals. It’s up to you.
Let me emphasize that this type of programming doesn’t take the place of the practice time required to learn new habits or develop new skills. But it does add two new ingredients—commitment and enjoyment—to everyday living.
You must believe with all your heart that this new goal is coming into your life now. As long as you are living with integrity and your goal in no way hurts or harms anyone else, you can live that vision. Don’t judge by appearances, for what you have in your life now is a result of past thinking, visualizing and beliefs. Let go of the past and have faith that everything is unfolding in your life in the right time and order. It was Abraham Lincoln who offered this, “To believe in the things you can see and touch is no belief at all; but to believe in the unseen is a triumph and a blessing.” Continue to focus on your goal with faith and a sense of positive expectancy. Believe that this goal, or something better, is coming into your life now. I always affirm mentally “this or something better I now accept in my life” because we don’t always know what’s for our highest good; however, the Higher Power within us all always knows.
Verbal affirmations of what you want to accomplish or the reality you want to create for yourself can supplement your positive thoughts. During your mental movies, or at other times during the day, affirm to yourself a statement that will bring about the positive results you want. These affirmations will be as different as there are people.
Let’s say that today you want to concentrate on eating healthy foods. You might want to affirm something like this: “Today I am choosing foods that are meeting my nutritional needs. I’m eating amounts that are sufficient, and I feel satisfied and content that I am truly caring for and loving myself.” Say this over and over during the day, especially during those periods when you feel torn by old, nonproductive habits.
(There are many sample affirmations and other countless, detailed “living your highest vision” tips and suggestions available in my books and audio albums, including The Joy Factor, Walking on Air, Celebrate Life!, Health Bliss, Wired to Meditate, Be Healthy~Stay Balanced, and Choose to Live Peacefully. But if you only want to purchase one comprehensive and thorough program that provides all of the tools you’ll need to reinvent your entire life, create high-level success in all areas of your life, and bring your dreams and goals to fruition in record-breaking time for yourself, your family, and your loved ones, you will want to get my program Renew Your Life: Choose to Live Fully. It’s available on my website. This 14-title favored, complete program is popular worldwide and has already been enjoyed by people internationally from Australia to England, from China to Ireland, from the United States to Italy, and from Japan to France. For more information on this bestselling program, to read a variety of endorsement testimonials from around the world, or to order immediately, please click here.)
Your mental movies and affirmations should always be in the positive, present and successful state. If you are stating things in the future tense, they will not become a reality. For example, say, “I am,” not, “I will be.”
Your thoughts will and do affect your entire life. The best results come to those who utilize positive programming on a regular basis, at least once a day. And the best time to practice either the mental movies or verbal affirmations is when your body is in a relaxed state. Because of this, I highly recommend that you first spend a few minutes to put yourself into a composed state before you start. By doing this, your subconscious becomes more receptive to self-programming.
Never allow anyone or anything to cause you to doubt your power and ability to live your vision—to manifest your goals and dreams. Decide what you want to create. Get clear on that first; there’s power in clarity. Next, set some goals for yourself. Goals are like magnets, and the more you define and clarify them, the stronger they pull. Goals are an important part of living your vision and give you something constructive to think about. So many of us spend our waking hours thinking about all the negative elements around us or about how others should change to meet our expectations. Goals give our thoughts positive direction and purpose. When we know what we want and where we are headed, we don’t spend our time thinking about what we don’t want or don’t have. Remember, what we desire and think about consistently, we get as beautifully evidenced by the following story.
My Retreat Home-Away-From-Home
A few years ago, one of my goals and dreams was to have a home-away-from-home, somewhere out in a natural setting where I could go to write and have some quality time for quiet and solitude. Although I wasn’t sure where I wanted this home to be, I was very clear on some of my specific requirements: I wanted it to be a long way from a large city and crowds of people, and surrounded by trees and nature’s sounds. The home itself needed to made of wood and windows, have a spectacular view, and lend itself to my healthy lifestyle—sun, fresh air, organic garden, and space to work out. So for a few months I visualized this home. I wrote my vision down on three-by-five index cards and gave thanks that it was already a reality.
About six months later, I was invited to give a seven-day workshop in a town on Oregon’s southern coast. I had been there before, speaking at Unity and other churches and at the local hospital. I had always thought it was a beautiful area but had never considered buying a home there. One evening I had a break during my workshop and was invited to visit some friends who lived on top of a forested hill overlooking the Pacific. During our conversation in their home, they mentioned that the house next door was for sale. I answered casually and didn’t give the information any more thought until later: in the middle of the night I was hit by a cosmic two-by-four and immediately realized I was supposed to buy that house next door to my friends. The realization seemed absurd, because I hadn’t even looked at the inside of the house. I simply knew it was meant to be mine, and that it would be the perfect place for personal retreats and writing.
The next morning I called my friends. They were delighted with my decision, even though they thought I was a little crazy! I called the realtor, and that’s when I learned that the house was already in escrow, about to close. He would be happy to show me other homes, he said, but this one was no longer available. I told him, “You don’t seem to understand. That’s my home and I’m not interested in looking at any others.” I left my telephone number and asked him to call when the house was available. You can guess how the story turned out: it did become available, I made an offer, and it became my retreat home, God’s and mine.
It certainly didn’t come without roadblocks—the path of least resistance isn’t always the best one. The whole process of creating my home presented me with one challenge after another and taught me numerous lessons as well, such as the importance of belief and faith and not judging by appearances; such as being thankful for everything seen and unseen, and beholding the Divine in everyone and everything. By the way, my home-away-from-home is on top of a hill, surrounded by trees, overlooking a bay, has lots of light, and is filled with angels, just as I visualized it. I had never thought about that specific location, but I know, now that I have it, that it’s the perfect place for me and was made possible because of my rich inner life and my partnership with God.
I’ve come to realize that there’s an unfathomable, yet recognizable, divine order to this universe. It’s ever present and always working in alignment with what we need for our highest good and spiritual unfoldment and growth.
I’ve learned not to analyze or question it anymore. I continue to live in awe at the magnificent adventure life continually is. I’m convinced that it’s extremely important to always imagine and think about what you want in life, while at the same time letting go of thoughts of what you don’t want. Let your imagination work for you and not against you. Make friends with your thoughts. Know that you are exactly where you need to be in life, and, at any moment, you can choose to experience something else simply by taking responsibility and consciously choosing to think differently. This reminds me of the fantastic line by writer Nikos Kazantzakis, “You have your paint brush and colors. Paint paradise, and in you go.”
Now remember, when you use creative visualization (mental movies), see your desire as an already accomplished fact. Dwell in perfect confidence, peace and certainty, never wondering or becoming anxious or hurried. Above all, don’t worry. Worry brings fear and fear is crippling. Really, the only thing that could be cause for worry is fearing you’ll have to do it all by yourself. Know that there is a power greater than yourself within you, orchestrating your every encounter and always guiding you in the right direction. Let go of those troubling thoughts. It was Mark Twain who said, “I’m an old man and have had many troubles, most of which have never happened.”
Mental poise, visualization and affirmation require only a few minutes of time each day, but you’ll be amazed at the results. Utilize these practices in all areas of your life. Your thoughts do affect your entire life. Start now by consciously choosing to make them work for you instead of against you. As a result of this new way of thinking and being, this moment—right now—can be a new beginning. No longer do you need to rue the past, worry about the future, or struggle through life as a victim of circumstance. As long as you live your life each day, absorbed in the present moment and centered on the love inside you, being responsible and accountable for who you are and what you want to become, you will experience a life more splendid, more wondrous, and more magical than ever before. So, live your vision. It’s your choice!
© The above material is an excerpt from the books The Joy Factor: 10 Sacred Practices for Radiant Health and Walking on Air: Your 30-Day Inside and Out Rejuvenation Makeover
As mentioned above, there are many sample affirmations and other countless, detailed “living your highest vision” tips and suggestions available in my books and audio albums, including The Joy Factor, Walking on Air, Celebrate Life!, Health Bliss, Wired to Meditate, Be Healthy~Stay Balanced, and Choose to Live Peacefully. But if you only want to purchase one comprehensive and immensely thorough program that provides all of the tools you’ll need to reinvent your entire life, create high-level success in all areas of your life, and bring your dreams and goals to fruition in record-breaking time — for yourself, your family, and your loved ones, choose my best-selling program Renew Your Life: Choose to Live Fully. This 14-title complete program is popular worldwide and has already been enjoyed by people internationally from Australia to England, from China to Ireland, from the United States to Italy, and from Japan to France. For more information on this bestselling program, to read a variety of endorsement testimonials from around the world, or to order, visit: Renew Your Life: Choose to Live Fully.