Reflections

FOOD FOR THOUGHT – CIRCUMSTANCES

 

The chapter on, ‘Effect of Thought on Circumstances’ from ‘As a Man Thinketh’ by James Allen is going to be the focus of today’s post.

Circumstances grow out of thought every man knows who has for any length of time practiced self-control and self-purification, for he will have noticed that the alteration in his circumstances has been in exact ratio with his altered mental condition.

In my last post, I discussed how our thoughts create our actions. This Chapter goes a step further. Allen explains how thoughts effect our actions and also mold our circumstances. A change in one’s circumstances is a result of a change in one’s mental condition.

Good thoughts and actions can never produce bad results; bad thoughts and actions can never produce good results. This is but saying that nothing can come from corn but corn, nothing from nettles but nettles.

Here Allen links thoughts with action, arguing that good thoughts create sound actions. Therefore, it is inevitable to have good results. The same goes for bad thoughts and bad actions. When you put a cake in the oven to bake you never expect to eat a lasagne right? We reap what we sow, our thoughts being the seed and our circumstances the fruit.

DIFFERENT TYPES OF THOUGHT CREATE DIFFERENT TYPES OF CIRCUMSTANCES

Men imagine that thought can be kept secret, but it cannot; it rapidly crystallizes into habit, and habit solidifies into circumstance.

Below is a table of different kinds thoughts Allen mentions. Beside the thoughts are the habits the thoughts create and also the particular circumstances that inevitably crystallize.

     THOUGHTS                    HABITS            CIRCUMSTANCES
Bestial – Cruel Drunkenness/Sensuality Destruction/Disease
Impure Enervating/Confusing Distracting/Adverse circumstances
Fear- Doubt -Indecision Weak/ Unmanly/Irresolute Failure/Indigence/ Slavish dependence
Lazy Thoughts Uncleanliness/ Dishonesty Foulness/Beggary
Hateful- Condemnatory Violence Injury/Persecution
Selfish Self – seeking Distressing
Beautiful Thoughts Grace – Kindliness Sunny Circumstances
Pure Thoughts Temperance – Self Control Repose/Peace
Courage – Self- Reliance – Decision Productive Success / Plenty/ Freedom
Energetic Cleanliness – Industry Pleasantness
Gentle -Forgiving Gentleness Protective / Preservative Circumstances
Loving – Unselfish Self – Forgiveness for others. Sure/Abiding Prosperity / True Riches

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ACTIVITY

A man cannot directly choose his circumstances, but he can choose his thoughts, and so indirectly, yet surely, shape his circumstances.

  1. For the next three days keep a notepad and pen close by. Start to try and be the observer of your thoughts, don’t change them at this stage just be aware of their presence.
  2. Write down the thoughts that are persistent; the ones that run through your head all day. At the end of the three days look back at the chart above. Try and identify what kind of thoughts you are having.
  3.  Look a little deeper and observe what kind of habits they are creating and finally what kinds of circumstances are evolving.
  4. Are your findings similar to those of James Allen?

I would love to hear about what you found!

Dallaa Moussallti

 

 

 

Reflections

FOOD FOR THOUGHT – A MAN IS LITERALLY WHAT HE THINKS

In the next few posts, I’m going to focus on a book called, ‘As a Man Thinketh’ by James Allen. James Allen was a British philosophical writer and a pioneer of the self-help movement. ‘As a Man Thinketh’ was published in 1903.

Thought and Character

A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts.

Allen believed one’s character is ultimately created by the accumulation of his/her thoughts. This is a fascinating concept when wanting to understand yourself on a deeper level and dare I say, if consistently applied could be life changing! Let’s take a cake as an example. What is a cake made of? Sugar, flour, baking powder, butter, etc. You can’t make a cake without these ingredients, right? Well, Allen argues, thoughts are the ingredients that create one’s character.

So every act of man springs from the hidden seeds of thought, and could not have appeared without them. This applies equally to those acts called ‘spontaneous’ and ‘unpredicted’ as to those which are deliberately executed.

Every action comes from a ‘hidden thought.’ This makes sense; we don’t tell everybody everything we are thinking, however, our actions, the way we behave is quite a good indicator of what’s going on in our minds. Allen argues all acts deliberate or unintentional are rooted from thoughts. Have you ever done something spontaneous (positive or negative) and questioned, why on earth did I do that? Well, if you go back to the time in your life before that spontaneous act and contemplate, you’ll probably find there was a cluster of thoughts that led you up to that particular action.

Man is the master of thought, the molder of character, and maker and shaper of condition, environment, and destiny.

We give shape to our lives God willing. Allen urges us to stop and contemplate on the past or even the present and find the missing link. One of the laws of living is that of, ‘cause and effect.’ The effect being our current situation and the cause, of course, is our thoughts. Being more aware of what’s going on in our minds aids us to not only understand ourselves but also be in tune with the unfolding of our lives.

Allen’s theory has depth and wisdom. I would argue it could be achieved; one can tame the mind and have productive thoughts, however reaching that level of consciousness is not easy. But, the results once change of thoughts has been implemented and the life changing effects may be worth the process!

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ACTIVITY

  1. For the next three days keep a notepad and pen close by.
  2. Start to try and be the observer of your thoughts, don’t change them at this stage just be aware of their presence.
  3. Write down the thoughts that are persistent; the ones that run through your head all day.
  4. At the end of the three days write down where you are in life, what did you do? What events took place? Who did you see, not see? How did you feel?
  5. Go back to your list of thoughts, can you a find a correlation between your thoughts and your actions?

I would love to hear about what you found!

Dallaa Moussallti

Reflections

BETWEEN STIMULUS AND RESPONSE THERE IS A SPACE

 

‘Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.’

Victor Frankl

Victor Frankl was a Holocaust survivor. He could have given up on life during and after his terrifying experiences in a concentration camp. However, this was not the case. Frankl picked up on something in his darkest hours that not only helped him survive and thrive through the atrocities he went through, but he also went on to aid millions of individuals all over the world.

Victor Frankl observed people’s behaviours while being tortured he also went a step further and studied their reactions. He argued that sometimes in life you don’t have a choice in certain situations you are faced with; however, the choice of how to react in any given situation is all yours and nobody can take it away from you. He found that between stimulus (the situation/event) and response (your reaction) there is a space people often don’t recognise hence are quick to react. Frankl believed that it is in this space that we should stand still. Not forever, but until we have given ourselves enough time to encode what is going on and then only after we have distanced ourselves from the stimulus allow ourselves to react in a way that will benefit ourselves and those around us. Therefore even though you can’t change the stimulus, you can modify the outcome in any given situation through your reaction.

Frankl learned this profound lesson the hard way, through unnecessary and brutal torture. However, his teachings can be implemented in our everyday lives. For instance, let’s imagine you had a habit of losing your temper now and then. The reason for your anger may be entirely justified; nonetheless, stop and question, are your reactions creating the outcomes you want?  What if you played the game of life in a different way? What if you began to acknowledge you have a space which enables you to be in control? A time to think things through, to give yourself time to encode everything that is going on and then allow yourself to react.

Everybody’s life is an accumulation of habits. Implementing the, ‘between stimulus and response there is a space,’ notion is also a habit, a productive one! The more you train yourself to apply it the more you will recognise your abilities to control certain aspects of your life, and the power you have God willing to steer probable outcomes to places you never even imagined.

All you need to remember is to stop and take advantage of the space. Grab on to it, think things through, and then react in a way that will enhance growth and freedom.

Dallaa Moussallati

Reflections

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FACTS AND ASSUMPTIONS

 

 What’s the difference between a fact and an assumption? Do assumptions have an adverse impact on our lives? Have we as a society developed the habit of believing our assumptions are facts?

A FACT

A FACT is something real, something that has occurred and something that is true.

AN ASSUMPTION

AN ASSUMPTION, on the other hand, is something we think about a person, group, belief, place, that may not be true. Therefore an assumption is a belief without proof.

DO ASSUMPTIONS HAVE AN ADVERSE IMPACT OUR LIVES?

 Let’s go back to the theory I love, ‘what you think about you bring about.’

Now when you have a thought, you consciously or unconsciously create an emotion. That emotion either affects you in a positive way or in a negative way. The emotion is then followed by an action. An accumulation of these actions, create your reality.  An assumption is yet another thought you might believe to be true. However, you have no real evidence that it is. But that belief /idea will create an emotion which you will act on. For instance, your teenage son wants to go out, you agree and tell him it’s fine, but you stress he has to be back by ten. It’s quarter past ten and your bundle of joy hasn’t strolled in the front door. Let’s examine three scenarios that may occur:

Scenario 1 – You assume he’s irresponsible, he doesn’t know how much you worry about him, he doesn’t respect you, something’s happened to him, you never liked his friends, etc. The list of all the assumptions popping up in your head could go on and on. These assumptions have now created emotions of fear, anger, resent, hurt, etc. The poor boy walks in at twenty past ten and what do you?  You pounce! Shout, accuse him of being irresponsible, you may even give him the cold shoulder and ignore him. The result- he goes to bed upset, you go to sleep hurt and angry.

Scenario 2 – You look at the clock and notice that he’s late. You choose not to make any assumptions and decide to act on facts. Your little angel walks in at twenty past ten. You smile and ask him how his night was. He tells you he enjoyed it but got a little anxious half way through the party because the friend who was supposed to drop him off decided he wanted to stay longer. He then had to leave the party early to try and find a bus home. You smile, hug him, and you both go to bed happy and content.

Scenario 3 – Your son walks in at twenty past ten. You are calm due to the fact you decided not make any assumptions. You smile when he walks in and ask him how the party went. You come to understand that the reason for him being late is because he forgot about the time.  He doesn’t apologize for his behaviour, so you decide to talk things through. Why don’t you start shouting? Because you’re in control and you haven’t let your emotions get the better of you. He goes to bed respecting you and trusting you more due to the way you dealt with the situation. You go to sleep content that you turned a difficult situation into one, which helped you and your son’s relationship grow.

Moral of the scenarios – don’t act on assumptions, work with facts. Most assumptions aren’t real and often don’t give you the freedom to create the outcomes you want to achieve in life.

HAVE WE AS A SOCIETY DEVELOPED THE HABIT OF BELIEVING OUR ASSUMPTIONS ARE FACTS?

I think we have. We have assumptions about everything from people of different faiths, colours, sizes, relationships, etc. All these assumptions sadly aren’t creating the peaceful world we all want to live in. The solution? Silencing our minds, beginning to train ourselves to act on facts, not assumptions. Give people a chance, give ourselves a chance. However, if worst comes to worst and you can’t get certain assumptions out of your head, try to pause, acknowledge they are there but don’t act accordingly to them, give yourself and reality time to unfold and reveal the truth.

Dallaa Moussallati

Reflections

The Art Of Being Flexible In Our Thinking

Flexible thinking is often discussed in clinical psychology and if adopted is considered to aid people on a personal level and in their relationships. Life is a game; you either win or lose. The game is already over if one’s thinking becomes rigid or uncompromising. Getting set in our ways and believing we have all the answers will only set us back. One characteristic of successful people is their ability to be flexible in their thinking and always contemplating on life with a new set of lenses.

Choosing to be optimistic or pessimistic

Flexible thinkers take both sides of the coin into consideration. They assess both the positive and negative aspects of any given situation. They then make a decision as to what to do next, often choosing the middle way, steering away from being too optimistic or too pessimistic.

We aren’t all the same

Flexible thinkers acknowledge that we live in a world with tremendous diversity. Two people can be looking at the same glass and see it as either being half full or half empty. Flexible thinkers often take into consideration people’s differences when working with others. They see differences in perceiving things as an advantage and listen to others who may have noticed something they didn’t.

Life is an adventure

Flexible thinkers regard life as an adventure. Every experience creates new possibilities, unique lessons to be learned and new understanding. They are more open to give strange things a try, however, crazy or demanding others perceive them to be. They are not afraid of coming out of their shells. They mix with different cultures, have conversations with people of different minds, read a broad range of books and vary the experiences they choose to take on.

To conclude if we are all on the same assumption that our thoughts have a significant impact on our reality. Then it’s only fair to say that if our thoughts are rigid and are always the same our reality will never change. However, if we try to take on a different approach and allow ourselves to be more flexible in our thinking; our world may change. A routine and mundane life could transition to one filled with excitement, never ending possibilities and unexpected joy.

Dallaa Moussallati

Reflections

The Samurai Warrior

THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY SAMURAI FOUR – POINT KEY TO SUCCESS

The seventeenth-century Samurai Warrior lived by his four-point key to success. He believed implementing these four factors would inevitably lead to triumph and success.

The Four – Point Key To Success

1. No Fear.
2. No Surprise.
3. No Hesitation.
4. No Doubt.

No Fear

The Samurai Warrior believed nothing should be feared in life. Apparently, there is nothing we should be afraid of, also overcoming our fears boosts self-confidence and helps us tackle future obstacles. So how do we overcome fear? The Samurai Warrior argued we should step right into anything that gives us the jitters. So for instance, if you have a fear of heights you should pluck up the courage and go somewhere you’ve avoided going to in the past. I find most of the fear many of us encounter is about the future, we forget about the present moment and our thoughts about what may happen, paralyze us. However, what we fear the most often never materialize, the thoughts running round in our minds seem to take away the sweetness of the present moment.

NO HESITATION

Where does hesitation come from? It comes from fear. We’re worried about making the wrong choices. The Samurai Warrior said we should outweigh the pros and cons in any decision in a practical manner and as soon as we’ve made up our minds as to what we want to do, we should go for it and never look back.

NO DOUBT

NO DOUBT is linked to hesitation. Once we’ve made a decision, we shouldn’t ponder about whether it was the right one. Time will tell. We should move forward with confidence in our choices and ourselves. Focus on the now and believe that whatever we have chosen to do is not only going lead to success but we will also excel.

NO SURPRISE

Do you feel that life seems to be full of little surprises? The Samurai Warrior believed there are no surprises in life. If we are thoroughly engrossed in the present moment, we will be able to pick up little clues about how our lives are unfolding. Therefore we should never be surprised. If we are in tune with our lives at present, not confusing ourselves with thoughts of the past and future, these clues will be similar to little stepping-stones. These subtle hints enable us to be prepared and able to deal with anything that comes our way.

Dallaa Moussallati

Pearls Of Wisdom, Reflections

A Few Minutes To Reflect – Rumi

Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi was a great man whose words and lessons touched the lives of millions of people for centuries after his death. He was a 13th-century Persian poet, Islamic Scholar, theologian, jurist and Sufi mystic. Below are a few of Rumi’s inspiring and life changing lessons.

1. The most important thing you can change in the world is yourself.

‘Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.’

2. Value and take care of your soul.

‘You know the value of every article of merchandise, but if you don’t know the value of your own soul, it’s foolishness.’

3. Gratitude has hidden miracles. Be grateful for both the positive and negative in your life.

‘If you are irritated by every rub, how will you be polished?’

‘Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.’

‘Where there is ruin, there is hope for a treasure.’

‘What hurts you, blesses you. Darkness is your candle.’

4. Silence your mind, stop worrying and put your thoughts to sleep.

‘Put your thoughts to sleep, do not let them cast a shadow over the moon of your heart. Let go of thinking.’

‘Be empty of worrying. Think of who created thought! Why do you stay in prison when the door is so wide open?’

5. Living your life doing things you are not passionate about does not bring you joy. Do what you love doing and do it with a heart full of love.

‘Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love.’

‘Let the beauty we love be what we do.’

6. We are all special and unique.

‘Everyone has been made for some particular work, and the desire for that work has been put in every heart.’

7. You are what you think of yourself. Stop acting so small. Don’t crawl, spread your wings and fly!

‘You were born with potential. You were born with goodness and trust. You were born with ideals and dreams. You were born with greatness. You were born with wings. You are not meant for crawling, so don’t. You have wings. Learn to use them and fly.’

Dallaa Moussallati

Reflections

Seven Days Left To Live

Chapter three is where D.A. tells the main character of A LIFE UNTOLD she has seven days left to live.

“You’re going to die, my dear…. You will live for another seven days, not including today.”

D.A. also explains, she will not spend the seven days with her loved ones saying goodbye, but they will be utilizing the rest of her time going through her life.

“We will split your life into seven parts, hence seven days. You will be a spectator of everything you did right and everything you did wrong.”

The main character doesn’t welcome the thought of death. Which is perfectly reasonable, I think most of us would share the same reaction. But what if we perceived the end differently; maybe, it’s the start to a beautiful beginning God Willing.

This is a TED TALKS I came across which I found interesting. Dr. Thomas Fleischmann is an Emergency room physician; he shares what he calls, ‘The four ways of dying.’ He also discusses the experiences of patients who have been resuscitated from death and their findings on the other side.

Dallaa Moussallati

Reflections

Can Words Change Our Brain?

Can a single word have the power to effect genes that manage emotional and physical stress? Mark Robert Waldman and Andrew Newberg, M.D. authors of, ‘Words can change your brain’ argue that words can actually change your brain. Let’s discuss their findings. I’ll try and simplify them as much as I can!

  1. You can stimulate frontal lobe activity by focusing on a positive word in your mind. The frontal lobe is where we find certain language centers which connect to the motor cortex, its function being, moving us into action.

2. The more time you focus on positive words, the more you begin to affect other areas of the brain.

3. The way you interact with others and the way you perceive yourself positively shifts due to function in the Parietal lobe changing.

4. Negative language increases activity in the fear center of our brain, known as the ‘amygdala.’ This releases stress-producing hormones and neurotransmitters, which interfere with our brains functioning.

5. Alarm messages are sent through the brain when ‘angry’ words are used; this has an adverse effect on logic and reasoning centers located in the frontal lobes.

Okay, so all this data sounds kind of interesting, right? What do we do next? I’ve got it all mapped out for you! Don’t worry!

  1. Choose one new positive word a day and try and contemplate on it throughout the day.

2. Let go of one negative word a day. Think of them as being poisonous and try and get rid of them one by one.

3. Try and sneak in a few new positive words and phrases in your everyday conversations.

4. Focus on the good in your life, try and ignore the rest. Always try and find positive words to describe your current situation; eventually the negative aspects of your life will just wither away!

Lastly, always remember,
‘A positive word a day, keeps the doctor away!’

Dallaa Moussallati

Reflections

Why Aren’t We More Compassionate?

Daniel Goleman, Psychologist and award-winning author of ‘Emotional Intelligence,’ gave an interesting Ted Talk titled, ‘Why aren’t we more compassionate?’ His ideas and findings are going to be the focus of today’s post.

First of all, let’s go through some basics. What’s the definition of compassion? Well, compassion is when one feels deep sympathy and concern for others who have been stricken by misfortune. Compassion is also usually accompanied by a strong desire to make a change and alleviate suffering.

Before going into the talk, I would like to ask all my wonderful readers to contemplate on the question below for a couple of minutes,

‘What would a world filled with compassion look like?’

Goleman discusses a study conducted at Princeton Theological Seminary, which examines when presented with the opportunity why some people help, and others don’t. The study was taken from a group of divinity students at Princeton Theological Seminary. The students were told that they had to give a sermon, half the students were given random topics from the Bible, the other half had to deliver a sermon on a parable about being a Good Samaritan. Then one by one each student was informed that the sermon had to be given in another building. The students didn’t know that they would find a man bent over, moaning and apparently needing assistance on their way. Did more of the students that were given the parable about being a Good Samaritan help the man? The answer is, NO. The study found that what determined whether any of the students helped the man in need was how much they were in a hurry. If they felt they had enough time they helped, but if the students felt rushed, they didn’t.

Let’s put these findings on a larger scale. ‘Is compassion on the decrease? If so, maybe it’s not necessarily a conscious decision we’ve collectively made. It could be as simple as many of us are in a rush; we have so many things we have to do every day, it’s not that we’re bordering selfish, but perhaps compassion isn’t on the top of our to-do lists anymore.

A new field in brain science, social neuroscience argues that our default wiring is to help. Meaning, we are naturally programmed to help someone in need or who is suffering. Goleman questions why we don’t. He believes the simple answer is that we are focused on ourselves and so preoccupied with everything else, we don’t fully notice others.

After thinking about Goleman’s talk, I came to a conclusion of my own. If we are all naturally wired to be compassionate then looking at some of the things that are going on in the world today, clearly something is wrong. However, I do believe the vast majority of the people in the world are genuinely superb. I don’t think we mean not to be compassionate. I think like everything else compassion is a habit. A practice we need to reactivate again on a mass scale. It can start with a simple smile, helping our neighbours, visiting someone who is sick, helping the elderly, etc. Imagine if we all made it our duty to become aware of compassion and started to integrate little acts of kindness throughout our day. Think about it for a minute – its sounds doable. Now let’s go back to the first question I posed,

‘What would a world filled with compassion look like?’

Dallaa Moussallati