What We Think About All Day Long
By Philip E. Humbert
There is great wisdom in the idea that "we become what we think about most of the time". The human brain is a goal-seeking, problem-solving machine, and the things we think about, focus on, and worry about inevitably shape our destiny. We all know this, and yet most of us completely fail to see (or seize) the opportunity.
Our world is filled with joy, with glorious literature, endless opportunity and boundless love, and yet too often, our minds are consumed with bad news or the anxieties of life. Recently, it seems I hear about how awful the economy is and how scared we should be! My friends, life is too short for that!
Of course, the economy is down and for some of us that will have significant negative impact. But it also creates opportunity for growth, innovation, and initiative. I love how "necessity becomes the mother of invention" and some people will find reasons for hope and joy (after all, children still play and lovers still hold hands) even in the worst of economic times.
This week I've been contemplating the things most of us "put in" our lives. As I get older, there does seem to be an amazing amount of garbage in our society. Last week I came across a music "awards show." Sorry, I honestly didn't note which one it was, but I'll say this: the music and off-color jokes were, not to be too harsh, awful! I kept wondering, do their mother's know what they do for a living? Do real people actually listen to this stuff? And, do we really need more of it in our lives? Yeah, I know, one more old guy grumbling about the music tastes of the young, and yet I come back to the central point:
We are in charge of what we watch, listen to and think about, and for better or worse, every bit of it shapes our lives and predicts our future. We can surround ourselves with the best ideas and the best resources ever created - and we should!
Recently, I've had several conversations with people who inspire me. I talked with a man who is leaving a lucrative law practice to teach high school math. He'll earn less, but as he said, "I can contribute more by teaching than by spending my life in court." He's pursuing a grand dream, and my guess is he'll have the best (and perhaps some of the worst) days of his life! And every single day, one thing is certain: he'll know he's alive!
This week, I also read Fred Howard's biography of Wilbur and Orville Wright and was struck by his statement that whenever they started a new project, "their natural first step was to research it at the library." They did not invent the airplane by accident. It was the result of focused thought and hard work over several years. Eventually, what they thought about inevitably became reality.
Several years ago, Michael Clark gave me a wonderful phrase. He said, "When you do what you love, you'll never work another day the rest of your life." I love that, and have usually found it to be true.
Sure, some days I still frustrate myself, but over-all, doing what we love and what we enjoy changes everything! In my opinion, if you truly desire to live well, to achieve much and (perhaps) make some real money, consider these two propositions:
- Refuse to fill your time, your life or your brain with garbage. Read the best stuff. Talk with the healthiest, wisest, smartest, most challenging people you can. Attend the seminars and learn from the experts! Listen to great music and to the whisperings of your heart. Laugh a lot. Worship often, and be grateful.
- Do what you love. You will make your biggest contribution when you passionately pursue your talents and use your strengths. Martin Luther King, Jr. did many great things, but perhaps his greatest moment came in Washington when he proclaimed, "I have a dream!" We all remember that, and millions have been inspired by it. What's your dream?