As We Think We Are, We Are
April 1, 2021 | View PDF
I have read or heard some version of this saying hundreds of times. There is evidence that this was a teaching of Gautama Buddha, but I have seen it attributed to the writings of Dr. Albert Einstein, King Solomon, Benjamin Franklin, Henry Ford, and probably a dozen motivational speakers. The real credit goes to Buddha, but no matter, the essence of the meaning is unequivocally true; as we think we are, we are, or will be!
The German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer, stated in his 1818 writing, The World as Will and Representation, that Man can, through self-consciousness, make a choice between affirming and denying the "Will." We are self-fulfilling prophecies of our own minds. If you want positive things to happen in your life, it starts with your own positive thoughts. The question is, why are thoughts, through "Self-Consciousness," so remarkably powerful?
A landmark study done by Dr. Barbara Fredrickson at the University of North Carolina involved 139 working adults. Half the group was assigned to enter a practice identified as, "The practice of Loving-Kindness meditation." She found that the group directed in Loving-Kindness meditation produced increases over time in daily experiences of positive emotions, which, in turn, produced increases in a wide range of personal resources, especially increased mindfulness, higher feelings of purpose in life, social support comfort, and decreased symptoms of various ailments. Overall, these increments in personal resources predicted increased life satisfaction and reduced depressive symptoms.
Another study published by the Journal of Research in Personality involved 90 undergraduate students who were split into two groups. The first group was directed to write down an "intensely positive experience" for three consecutive days. The second group wrote on controlled, neutral topics. Three months later, each student was put through a battery of oral and written psychological tests. The end result was that the students who had written about intensively positive experiences three months earlier were found to have better moods, better overall health, and fewer complaints. The students who wrote about their positive experiences for three days were scientifically proven to be happier and healthier three months after the writing of their positive experience stories.
Much has been written about the incredible power of our minds. In my own life, I have undertaken many truly complex tasks, taking as long as many years to complete. I learned in my own life that, if I could imagine the accomplishment of these tasks step-by-step, I could make it happen. In other words, I discovered that if I could see it in my mind, I could make it happen in the real world. This belief in the power of my own mind has changed my life.
There exists an endless debate concerning these two human components, "mind" and "self."
Both psychology and religions embrace "self" within their belief systems. As should be expected, science and religion are mostly dichotomous on the subject. However, Dr. Albert Einstein theorized that we live in a four-dimensional environment, in which the past, present, and future all exist simultaneously.
Whether a deep positive belief in one's ability to be successful begins in the "mind" and is acted upon within "self" or plays out in another manner, scientific research proves that a positive belief in ourselves enhances our lives for higher achievement in our commitments. If we can dream it, see it, and carry it forward, each of us has a high probability of making it a reality.
Wesley Pool, A.A., B.Sc., M.A., Ph.D., is a Kinesiologist, Exercise Physiologist, Research Scientist, Writer, and Consultant. He is the author of Punch Back Aging: A Guide To Better Living As We Age. Dr. Pool has 40 years of experience in teaching healthy living while raising life quality and happiness.