I have to admit, my area of focus in life hasn’t been learning what makes my computer work. I just turn it on and get going. When I have an IT issue, I call my computer guy, Mark. As they say, “let the baker bake the bread.” Computers are his thing, not mine, so I’ve learned to defer to his expertise in all things high-tech.
Once I explain to Mark what’s going on, the first thing he usually asks me is, “When was the last time you re-booted”? My typical response is, “I dunno.” He laughs and tells me to re-boot and call him back, and seven out of ten times it fixes the problem.
My point with this story is that we can usually fix our own life issues if we re-boot our minds. We need to shut down the system, clear it of any bugs, and start it again clean. Our minds are AMAZING, but just like cars or computers they need preventive maintenance from time to time.
Here’s how the process of re-booting your mind works, at least as far as I see it.
The first thing you need to do is decide what you want to achieve. Do you want bigger muscles or a slimmer waist? Do you want to eat better? Do you want to be a more loving wife or husband? Write everything down.
When you have your list of goals in front of you, select the two or three that are most important to you. Write down an affirmation for each of these goals. An affirmation is a simple statement that creates a vivid picture of a goal in your mind, as if it’s already been achieved.
Your affirmations should be as specific as possible, and should be in the present, not future, tense. To be effective, each one of your affirmations should meet these five criteria:
- Starts with “I am”
- Is short and specific
- Is positive (the mind doesn’t respond to words like don’t, not, no, etc.)
- Includes an action word ending in “ing”
- Includes a word that describes how you feel about reaching your goal
Here are some examples of affirmations as they relate to people who want to be fit:
- I am 130 pounds and am excited to be wearing size 6 dresses!
- I am energetic from eating only fresh, whole foods to nourish my body
- I am proudly completing my daily gym workout
- I am calmly and contemplatively doing something to grow each day
- I experience love and practice forgiveness while I relate to others
Keep your list of affirmations with you at all times and say each affirmation OUT LOUD as many times a day as you can to help your mind believe in your new reality.
As you say each affirmation OUT LOUD, create a corresponding visual picture in your mind. See yourself as healthy, fit, attractive, and loving. See yourself with bigger muscles or a slimmer waist. See yourself making smart nutrition choices. And always remember to consider how the accomplishment of your specific goals makes you feel. This affirmation exercise is probably the most important thing you can do if you’re serious about reaching your goals.
Putting Your Goals In The Context Of Your Life
At this point, some of you are probably thinking that this is pretty silly stuff. But I promise you, it works!
Here’s a good way to motivate you to keep going with your affirmations. Every day, think about the association between your goals and the things that are most important in your life. Think of how much better your relationships with your spouse, your kids, your parents, your friends, your co-workers, your congregation, and even God Himself will be as you progress toward your goals. One way to get clear on these associations is to repeatedly ask yourself probing questions to define and justify your goals. Questions like, “What do I want?” “Why is that important to me?” and “What will this get me?” can all help you identify what really is important to you.
By always keeping an eye on the richness that will enter your life as you achieve your goals (which is especially true with health and fitness because it impacts every other area of our lives), you’ll be motivated to keep saying your affirmations no matter what you currently think about them.
Putting What The Mind Thinks Into Motion
The last exercise in our little mental trinity of thoughts, beliefs, and actions is to continually ask yourself what I call the bridge question. It’s a question that bridges the gap between the image you have in your mind about who you want to be and the behavior you must put into action to reach your goals.
The bridge question is simply “What would a (type of person I want to be) person be DOING today?” This would be my personal example of a bridge question: What would a spiritually balanced, physically fit, healthy, God-loving person be doing today? Would he or she be watching television or going to the gym for an invigorating workout? Would he or she be stressing out over a family matter, or trying to resolve the problem by open communication? Would he or she be going to McDonald’s? Would he or she be having a soda or a glass of water? You get the idea.
Try it with everything you do. Ask yourself if the person you want to be would be doing what you’re doing right now. The person you want to be would definitely be reading this book, so you’re already off to a great start!
Persistence Pays Off
As you do these exercises; you’re going to encounter resistance. You might doubt the power of these exercises and think they won’t work. Those around you may think what you’re doing is stupid or remind you of your past failures.
Try to be persistent even in the face of negative thinking. It took you years to develop negative thought patterns, so it’s going to take some time to replace them with positive ones. Throughout this book, I constantly remind you that you’re not perfect, and I don’t mean that as a criticism. I only say it so that small setbacks don’t discourage you and lead to bigger failures. If you expect and accept setbacks, and know that God is with you every step of the way, you’ll be less likely to give up completely. Try and be forgiving, learn from your mistakes, and stay focused on your goals. They do come from God, and they’re worth working toward.
My Three Mind Exercises For Health and Happiness
- Repeat affirmations several times per day. This is probably the most important thing you can do to improve your life. (Ephesians 4:23, “be made new in the attitude of your minds.”)
- Remind yourself each day of the association between health and fitness and the things that are most important in your life. You’ll be more motivated when you think about how achieving your goals can help you relate to your family, perform at your job, and live out the rest of your life.
- Keep asking yourself the “bridge question.” This gets you from image to action by asking “What would a (type of person I want to be) person be DOING?”
Think About This!
Write down how you’re going to re-boot on a 3×5 card and paste it everywhere you can see it! You might write something like:
- I’m so happy and grateful now that I’m living a healthy life with an attitude of gratitude and excitement
- I’m so happy and grateful now that I’m wearing size 30 jeans and lifting weights three times a week