You can’t stop darkness. It can only be displaced with light. In the same fashion, you can’t stop thinking negatively; you have to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. You can’t stop feeling sad, you have to start being happy instead.
A common approach to improving life is trying to eliminate as many undesirable aspects as possible. This strategy is as ineffective as attempting to stop thinking about a red and yellow striped elephant. In as much as a positive thought is required to displace a negative one, an undesirable facet is superseded by engaging in positive behavior.
Just as light vanquishes darkness, improvements to your life are made by replacing that which you don’t want with that which you do. However, before engaging in this process, you have to know what you want and don’t want.
Let’s look at some examples. Jim wants to get in better physical shape. He is not pleased with his diet. He feels it consists of too much fast food. Jim also knows he spends too much of his discretionary time sitting around.
How does Jim improve his diet? He can’t just stop eating. Jim has to eat something. So Jim needs to find a healthier alternative to replace the fast food. Jim’s goal is to change his diet into something healthier.
How does Jim get into better physical shape? It is not possible for Jim to stop spending so much time in sedentary pursuits without doing something else. He must replace sitting with a different type of behavior. So next time Jim would normally be spending an hour on the couch, he can go for a walk instead.
Sara wants to be happier. She feels too much of her time is spent being blah or sad. It’s not possible for Sara to stop feeling sad. She needs to displace her sad feelings by engaging in activities, thoughts, and pursuits which make her happy.
However, Sara must first be able to specifically identify exactly what makes her happy. In order to do this, she must have a solid understanding of herself including her strengths, weaknesses, likes, and dislikes.
Hank knows he is drifting through life without any direction. He really wants to do something about this. The only way Frank can put an end to his drifting is by identifying goals and then taking action to accomplish them. Frank’s aimlessness will stop once it is displaced by definiteness of purpose.
Carol is frustrated with her job. She is constantly bored with little to challenge her. Carol doesn’t like being frustrated but doesn’t know how to stop feeling that way. Furthermore, she is even frustrated about being frustrated.
Just as is the case with Hank, Sara, and Jim, Carol must find things to do which are engaging. Activities she finds challenging will displace the frustration Carol is experiencing. Carol can either explore options that meet her needs within her current job or she can find a new, more rewarding position.
Just as light is required to vanquish darkness, you make changes in your life by replacing what you don’t want with something you desire. This principle applies to all aspects of your life including behavior, thoughts, habits, and goals.
Proactivity on your part is needed to change things for the better. Waiting and hoping is a passive approach that all too often results only in continued disappointment. Believe in yourself along with your ability to do whatever it takes to get the results you want. Start today determining what light you need to vanquish your darkness.
NOW AVAILABLE: “Dare to Live Without Limits,” the book. Visit www.BryanGolden.com or your bookstore. Bryan is a management consultant, motivational speaker, author, and adjunct professor. E-mail Bryan at firstname.lastname@example.org or write him c/o this paper. Ó 2014 Bryan Golden