What’s one thing in your possession that you believe must be completely protected? A place where anything that comes in must be carefully examined? The wisest man, the third king of the kingdom Israel, King Solomon, gave us the answer to this question in his proverbs. He advised, “Guard your heart with all diligence, for out of it flows the issues of life.” King Solomon was simply saying that our hearts must be under maximum security at all times because it’s out of our hearts that we do and become who we are. This means that an average or a significant life begins from the heart. Therefore, nothing should be allowed in our hearts that will jeopardize our best lives. Why is the heart so powerful that it has the ability to shape who we are? Luckily, we don’t have to search far to get the answer to this question as Solomon, with his heavenly wisdom answered it as well when he wrote, “For as the man thinks in his heart, so is he”. Solomon provided a principle that still eludes many to date. We don’t think with our minds. We think with our hearts. At least the kind of thoughts leads to decisions, those which shape who we are.
I know, we have been taught that it’s the mind that thinks and we have believed. While there is truth to this, I believe it does not give us the whole picture of how we think. The mind is a processing center for data. Data we received from our external environment through the five senses and also data we receive from the heart. The heart, that is our soul, is what makes decisions. Until we accept this truth, it will be impossible to fully live a life of significance, because living or failing to live a life of significance starts with the heart.
My goal in today’s write up is to show the single most dangerous habit that has prevented many people not only from achieving personal success but has also hindered many from tasting a life of significance. This is poor thinking.
A Potent Habit
Recently, a friend posted this question on a platform I frequent, “What habit(s) can one develop during the ongoing COVID-19 quarantine, that will make them valuable as a person?” On spending a few minutes pondering on the question, I landed on one habit that if developed and nurtured, it’s potency will be astronomical, and its influence will be so wide; it will positively impact every person who you will come into contact with. My reply was power thinking. The habit of thinking positive and solution-oriented thoughts is what I refer to as power thinking. I believe that everyone who achieves to live a life of significance must have power thinking as one of his or her core habits.
The opposite is true. People who fail to achieve success or significance have developed the negative habit of poor thinking. Poor thinking is the single most dangerous habit that can prevent you from living a life of significance. It is so potent that it makes men/women live beneath their potential all their lives.
Poor thinking is the single most dangerous habit that can prevent you from living a life of significance.
Poor thinking is characterized by three groups of thoughts. First, thoughts that recall a dark past. Poor thinking will only make you see and focus on the negative experiences that happened in the past and distort your judgment of the future. Second, thoughts that paint hopelessness in the present. Poor thinking will make a person feel like there is nothing they can do at the present moment to make things better for themselves and for others. Third, poor thinking is characterized by thoughts that forecast a defeated future. When poor thinking has become a habit, it is impossible to think of a bright future. This is contrary to the kind of thinking that leads to significant living.
To serve others, which is the gateway to a life of significance, your thoughts of the past must help you get the best of the past by learning from your past experiences. Your thoughts of the present must be thoughts that help you find hope because it’s when you are hopeful that you find solutions to problems you might be facing. Most importantly, your thoughts of the future must be inclined to victory and not defeat. But as we have seen above, the mind is the gate to our heart. Poor thinking habits prevent people from living a life of significance by primarily making the heart susceptible to three major lies.
The Three Lies
- You have to wait for the perfect time to do something that makes a difference. Often this is the biggest lie that robs people from opportunities to make a difference. I have realized that in life, the most opportunities to do something that positively impacts others comes at the cost of our convenience. Those who overcome this lie have developed their instinct to act as soon as they see a need. Always remember that the perfect time to make a difference is when you stand before a need. Never wait for a perfect time.
- Only big actions can make a difference. We undermine the small acts that we can do with what we have. We forget that it is the small things in life that make the greatest difference. Mudslides are not initiated with big rocks, but rather with tiny sand granules. As the ancient adage says, “A thousand-miles journey begins with a single step” so does living a life of significance begin with small acts of kindness and love. While it’s true big actions can make a huge difference, they are not the only ones that make a difference. If you pay close attention, it’s the small actions that beget what we view as big actions. So, don’t devalue the small acts you can do with what you have by waiting to do big things, start where you are with what you have.
- Only new undertakings or new ideas can make a difference. The keyword to the above and this lie is the word ‘only’. There is nothing wrong with new ideas. But often most of the time we end up spending far too much time trying to come up with something new that we end up doing nothing. When it comes to serving, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. We can do what is already being done but add a little of our God-given touch to it. Don’t sit around and wait to find something new to do to make a difference. Do ordinary things in an extraordinary way and you will surely touch people’s hearts.
Now that we have seen that poor thinking is the major blockage to a life of significance, let’s examine our lives and see if there is an area where poor thinking could be threatening our progress. If we have bought into any lies, let’s find the truths and apply them. To completely remain alert to poor thinking, I constantly remind myself of the overarching truth about thinking, which is this, the lifeblood of my thinking is in the heart and my mind is a data processing center that supports my heart to think. The product of my thinking determines whether I will live an average life or a significant life.
Napoleon Hill, the author of ‘Think and Grow Rich’, is quoted saying, “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” While we face adversity brought about by the ongoing COVID19 pandemic, we also have an excellent opportunity to grow and benefits. That is why, in the next few posts, we will cover the topic on personal growth. But before then, here is a question to ponder on. What three areas of your life, if you intentionally invest in developing and growing, would you see the highest return on your investment?