The Power of Belief

Prior to 1954, no one believed that a human being could run a mile in less than 4 minutes. This was a common belief and so no one was able to complete that feat.

That was until Roger Bannister decided that not only could a human run a mile in less than 4 minutes, but that he was going to be the one to do it. So he set out his training on attaining that goal.

On May 6th, 1954 he achieved it by running a 3 minute and 59.4 second mile. You may say “so what, that is pretty close to a 4 minute mile”.

The interesting thing about this is not that he barely broke the 4 minute rule fallacy. More importantly was the fact that he opened up people’s minds to the fact that this thing that most had claimed to be impossible was actually possible. Once that belief was broken, many more runners started to break the 4 minute mile. All because they no longer had that limiting belief.

Talk about the power of belief.

Man is made by his belief. As he believes, so he is. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Courtesy of Brainy Quote

Men often become what they believe themselves to be. If I believe I cannot do something, it makes me incapable of doing it. But when I believe I can, then I acquire the ability to do it even if I didn’t have it in the beginning. – Mahatma Gandhi

The outer conditions of a person’s life will always be found to reflect their inner beliefs. – James Allen

Courtesy of Thinkexist

8th Verse – Get your life in a flow

Shoreline Break

The supreme good is like water,
which nourishes all things without trying to.
It flows to low places loathed by all men.
Therefore, it is like the Tao.

Live in accordance with the nature of things.
In dwelling, be close to the land.
In meditation, go deep in the heart.
In dealing with others, be gentle and kind.
Stand by your word.
Govern with equity.
Be timely in choosing the right moment.

One who lives in accordance with nature
does not go against the way of things.
He moves in harmony with the present moment,
always knowing the truth of just what to do.

Similar to the 3rd verse, this verse refers to being instead of doing. Doing is fighting against what is in accordance with the natural flow of things. Being is acting in a way that is congruent with the natural flow and with your true self.

The Universe, if you pay attention and stop trying to control it, has its own natural flow. It is just like being caught in the undertow of the ocean. If you fight against the flow of the water, you are going to struggle and eventually wear yourself out and quite possible drown in the process. If instead you allow the flow of the water to take you in its natural direction, you will at first go in a direction opposite of what you intended, but you will still get to the safety of the beach and will do so in a much less strenuous manner.

This is a metaphor for life. If you ignore the natural direction of your life and your true purpose, you will continue to wear yourself out mentally, physically, and spiritually. If instead you allow yourself to be taken in the natural direction you were intended, you will experience life without the constant struggle to control it.

This concept reminds me of the idea behind the book Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Flow is that feeling you get when you are totally in tune with what you are doing and the hours seem to slip by as you are entranced by the activity you are involved in. Mihaly was involved in a great deal of research in this area and in determining what conditions make people feel the powerful effect of flow.

“We can focus consciousness on the tasks of everyday life in the knowledge that when we act in the fullness of the flow experience, we are also building a bridge to the future of the universe”. – From Finding Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

If you are living “…in accordance with nature” and “not [going] against the way of things”, you will experience this phenomenon much more often. You will be moving “…in harmony with the present moment”.

Here are some links to more information about Flow:
Psychology Today
Wikipedia
Janna Jung Claus

If you dare, today is the day you will soar.

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Several years ago I had a dream that has been a motivating force for me ever since. When I awoke from it, a vivid collection of words from the dream stuck with me and have become my words to live by.

As I slept, I had some strange dream that was a conglomeration of different images and scenes. I don’t really remember much of the actual dream. What I do remember is waking up feeling like I was still in my dream. Words were physically visible in front of my mind’s eye. It was not like I was thinking the words, but rather like they were physically present. The words hung on as if to ensure that after I woke up, I didn’t go about my day and ignore the dream that I just had.

I instantly grabbed a notebook and pen to write down the words that seemed to be imprinted on my brain. I was afraid that I would forget them as I typically do with dreams from the previous night after a short while of being awake. Not this time. The words were strangely still clearly visible.

Once I wrote the words down, I sat back and stared at them. What did they mean? How did they come to me in a dream? Why were they so vividly displayed in my mind? Were they a message from some divine being or did my mind just randomly come up with them? Was there a reason for them coming to me now?

The words that I was staring at were:

If you dare, today is the day you will soar.

Go for what you know in your heart you want to accomplish despite the fears, the negative self-talk and the cynical opinions of others and you will live your life to its fullest. That is what these words mean to me.

I didn’t have anything big that day that would need some extra motivation to get through. I could have ignored it as a random occurrence or something too strange to want to deal with. Instead I took it as a mantra for my life. Although I often forget and go back to my old ways, I try to remember to follow this mantra when I get into situations that cause me pause because of my fear, discomfort, or laziness.

I now have a necklace with these words inscribed on and a coffee mug displaying them as well…thanks to my wonderful wife for giving me those as a constant reminder to go for what I want in life.

Are you going for what you want in your life or could you use these words to propel you into action?

7th Verse – Selfless Action

Selfless Action

Heaven is eternal – the earth endures.
Why do heaven and earth last forever?
They do not live for themselves only.
This is the secret of their durability.

For this reason the sage puts himself last
and so ends up ahead.
He stays a witness to life,
so he endures.

Serve the needs of others,
and all your own needs will be fulfilled.
Through selfless action, fulfillment is attained.

Why are so many so called successful people unhappy? Why do so many celebrities end up in the news for being arrested or entering rehab or for tragically ending their lives prematurely because of substance abuse? Because all of the possessions they obtain, the large sums of money they make and the fame that they gain doesn’t mean anything if what they are doing is not personally fulfilling. Unfortunately many of them feel empty and unhappy and some turn to drugs and alcohol or other self-destructive habits as a way to cope with that empty feeling.

“Success without fulfillment is failure” – Anthony Robbins

Many of us continually look for the next thing that we can get and think that object is going to fulfill us. However, material success is typically not fulfilling in a long term sense. There may be a fleeting sense of satisfaction, but that fades quickly and is replaced by a wanting for the next thing.

What this verse is referring to is achieving fulfillment by serving the needs of others. This can be lofty goals of serving people in need through a volunteer organization or just simple paying attention to those people around us as we go through our day.

As described in the film “I AM” by Tom Shadyac, there are large scale changes that people can make like the ones that he went through in his life. He sold his multimillion dollar home and moved into a trailer park as he pursues a life of not taking more than he needs.

That is a pretty dramatic change. For some people that may be possible. However, for many of us it can be simple things like helping someone struggling to carry their bags at the grocery store, helping the person who locked their keys in the car or helping out at our kid’s school.

Not only do these acts make the giver feel good about their actions, but also help to spread some positivity in a world that is always in desperate need of much more.

Try it…look for opportunities in your day to be of service to others. Notice how your own sense of fulfillment grows.

Let me know if you try this and what thoughts you have as a result.

Also, if you haven’t seen the film “I Am“, check out the preview below and see the film. I would love to know what you think of the film.

6th Verse – The Spirit Within

Mysterious Feminine

The spirit that never dies
is called the mysterious feminine.
Although she becomes the whole universe,
her immaculate purity is never lost.
Although she assumes countless forms,
her true identity remains intact.

The gateway to the mysterious female
is called the root of creation.

Listen to her voice,
hear it echo through creation.
Without fail, she reveals her presence.
Without fail, she brings us to our own perfection.
Although it is invisible, it endures;
it will never end.

This verse speaks of the spirit that is in all of us and that we are all a part of. Like fingers on a glove, we are all separate physical representations of a common underlying force or spirit.

When I think of this concept I think of how we as humans tend to treat each other.  I think of all the negativity, cruelty and disregard for human life that we bestow upon our fellow human beings. I think of all the wars, the genocide, the destruction of human beings due to their nationality, ethnicity, skin color, religious beliefs, etc.

If we understood that we are all connected underneath, how could we let such things happen to one another? How could we place so much negativity on another human being? We would realize that what we put out is what we get back in return because of that connection.

This verse also describes how, if we listen hard enough, that spirit will reveal our true purpose or inner calling. If we remove all of the labels and expectations associated with those labels, we would hear the voice of the eternal spirit; the mysterious feminine.

Maybe a change of perspective is in order.

So I went to the gym today in a non-motivated and blasé state. I was thinking that I would do something to get me energized but had no idea what. I trudged upstairs to the lines of anticipating treadmills, stair climbers, and bikes. As I stepped onto one of the new fancy treadmills with all the wiz bang features like an iPod hookups and built in TV, I stared at the screen pondering what type of workout I was going to do. I felt an AC vent in the ceiling above throwing cold air all over me. “It’s the middle of winter; I don’t want to be cold. That’s why I’m running inside on a treadmill”, I thought to myself. I decided to bag my attempt and move over to the older treadmills in another area away from the AC vents.

Now in a much more comfortable spot, I slogged at a 14 minutes mile pace attempting to get myself motivated to get moving and get my heart rate up. I looked at the screen in front of me that showed my progress slowly moving around a picture of a track. I hate running in circles around a track all much as running inside on a treadmill, so the combination of the two was quashing any motivation that I was mustering up.

I noticed a button to change the view on the screen. As I scrolled through the options, I came across one that showed my progress around a large looping course across a gravel running trail nestled in between two lakes and a mountain range. “Now we’re talking”, I thought as my motivation started to finally assemble and I quickened the pace to a 10 minute light run. Running outside is something that I love even though I had not done any in a very long time especially in a setting like the one being presented on the screen in front of me.

As my heart rate increased and my breathing started to quicken, I noticed that the loop was a total distance of 5k. My motivation now amplified exponentially as I seemed to scream inside my own head “I am running a freaking 5k today”!

In full gear now, I kicked up the speed as I went…8 minutes miles, 7 minute miles, 6.5 minute miles. By the time I was done, I felt like I had the workout that I was coming here to get. I was sweating, I was energized and I felt good.

Why am I telling you this story…well a thought came to me as I stretched my post run muscles. A simple change in perspective (i.e. changing from the tedious track visual that I hate to the 5k trail run through the scenic visual that I love) changed my entire mental state and my outcome.

If you are in a bad spot, maybe you just need to change your perspective.

Are you getting love from the most important person on Valentine’s day?

So it’s Valentine’s Day and most people are looking for love and affection from someone else in their world. This day reminded me of a quote that I saw a few days ago from the Buddha.

“You yourself, as much as anybody else in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”

I see two key things in this quote. One is that “you” deserve it. The other is that you deserve “your” love and affection. I think that so many people get caught up in what they are getting from others, especially on Valentine’s day, but forget the most important person that they need to receive love from…themselves.

So don’t forget to take a minute today regardless of what flowers, chocolates, cards, hugs, and kisses you may or may not be receiving and remember to tell yourself how much you love “you” and how important you are to yourself. In the end you may realize that you are the only person that you truly “need” love from to be complete.