By Chuck Gallozzi
The digital world is a hotbed of excitement because computers, digital cameras, cell phones, and other technological marvels improve at a breathtaking pace. But the social sciences (sociology, psychology, economics, politics) seem to move along at a much slower rate. Most psychology books, for example, continue to teach it takes three to four weeks to break a bad habit.
But is that true? Well, it usually is true when we believe it is. That is, our beliefs influence the outcome more than the circumstances do. The point is, then, when we want to change our habits or behavior, we should question the popular belief that it will take time to do so.
Why does it have to take time? Why not change instantly? In fact, we could say all change should take place N.O.W. The letters "N.O.W." stand for No Other Way. For there is No Other Way to change. After all, if I put off changing, isn't that procrastination? And isn't it true the only time I have the power to act is now? Besides, we have the innate ability to change instantly. But little or nothing is said about it. Therefore, we don't think about or take advantage of it. Let's consider an example.
You're walking down a crowded sidewalk, when suddenly someone hits you from behind with such force you are knocked to the ground. You are angry. Very angry. You get up to see what has happened and you see a blind man. Apparently, he stumbled into a hole in the sidewalk that you carefully avoided earlier. As soon as you realize what happened, you anger dissipates. It disappears in an instant! You have instantly changed from an angry person to a calm one.
You can use this principle to instantly change a negative emotion to a positive one. Here's an example. You go to a restaurant and order a steak. You specifically ask to have the steak well-done, explaining that you can't eat it if it's rare. Twenty minutes later, the waiter returns with a covered, sizzling plate and walks away. You uncover the plate and find the steak is rare. You are now angry.
You can choose to remain angry, but that would be unwise as it would ruin your meal. Instead, you choose to stop and think about the situation. You ask yourself how these stupid mistakes happen. As soon as you do, the answer appears. Mistakes happen because we're dealing with people, and people make mistakes. That's why pencils have erasers. Making mistakes is part of our nature. We're imperfect. And since you're a person, you, too, make mistakes and upset people.
After arriving at this conclusion, your anger is gone. You calmly call the waiter, return the steak, and ask him for one well-done. Also, you spontaneously add, "Since I have to wait again, perhaps you can bring me a free cappuccino to pass the time." The waiter answers, "I'll be happy to sir; I'll get you one right away."
You are proud of the way you responded and look forward to the pleasure of a cappuccino. This turn of events came about only because you changed your mental state. It is only in a state of calmness that your creativity can spring into action and think of "the cappuccino solution." Instead of ruining your dinner, you improved it! And the restaurant gets a chance to make up for their mistake. It's a win-win situation. Isn't the magical power that is at your disposal wonderful? Well, there are other instant-changing techniques that you can use as well. Let's look at some of them...
1. LIFE AS AN ADVENTURE.
Did you ever dream of climbing the Himalaya Mountains, exploring the great Australian Outback, or scuba diving for buried treasure? Wouldn't it take a grueling effort to do so? Yet, we willingly struggle through great difficulties all for the sake of adventure. As Louis L'Amour (1908 ~ 1988) wrote, "As I have said elsewhere, and more than once, I believe adventure is nothing but a romantic word for trouble... What people speak of as adventure is something nobody in his right mind would seek out, and it becomes romantic only when one is safely at home."
Once we recognize that ALL of life is an adventure and EVERY struggle that is conquered results in exhilaration and joy, how can we not embrace the struggle we are working through? If you are feeling pain instead of joy, you are focusing on the struggle instead of the adventure. Remind yourself that you are an adventurer and join the ranks of Ernest Shackleton, Sir Francis Drake, Christopher Columbus, David Livingstone, Sir Walter Raleigh, Joan of Arc, and others. How long does it take to change your focus from the struggle to the adventure? Just an instant. Learn to change your negative state of mind to a positive one in the blink of an eye!
2. BE AWARE OF YOUR CHOICES.
Life is not supposed to happen to you. You are supposed to happen to it. You happen or create yourself with your choices. So, if you don't like how you're feeling, change it; your feelings are of your choosing. Here's how to quickly end a negative feeling...
- Ask yourself, "How do I feel?" That is, identify the feeling. For instance, are you angry, envious or jealous?
- Ask yourself, "How do I want to feel?" Identify the desired feeling.
- Then ask yourself, "How do I choose to feel?" This is a reminder that your feelings are your choice. True, a negative feeling may spontaneously occur, but after it does, you have the choice of keeping it or changing it.
- Ask yourself, "How do I feel now?"
If the answer is negative, keep repeating steps b) ~ d) until you feel positive.
3. LETTING GO.
We don't need to change negative feelings to positive ones. Another method is just to let them go. Letting them go offers relief, just as removing a burden from your shoulders would. Here are the steps
- Ask yourself, "Could I let go of this feeling?"
- If the answer is yes, ask yourself, "Am I willing to let go of this feeling?"
- If the answer is yes, ask yourself, "When?"
- Hopefully, the answer will be NOW. If so, let it go and move on. Repeat the steps several times, if needed.
4. RECOGNIZING THE TRUTH.
This is a powerful variation of technique #2, "Be aware of your choices."
- Ask yourself, "How do I feel?" Identify the negative feeling.
- Ask yourself, "How will I feel in the future?" Recognize that you don't know. That is, you may feel terrific tomorrow, or in an hour, in a few minutes, or even in a few seconds.
- Recognition of this fact will provide some relief. Allow yourself to enjoy the relief.
- As you enjoy the relief, you will start to feel better.
- As you begin to feel better, acknowledge to yourself, "I am feeling better." Add, "Now that I am feeling better, I am ready to return to my tasks." And do so.
5. CHANGE A COMPLAINING HEART TO A GRATEFUL ONE.
The next time you feel like complaining, write down your complaint and then change it into something you are grateful for. Do this often enough and you will develop the skill to always see the positive in every situation. For an example of what I mean, change, "Why do I have to pay so much in taxes?" to "I'm grateful that I pay taxes because it means I have a job."
You may be wondering if the above techniques also work with entrenched habits. The answer is yes. Take smoking, for example. Considered an addiction, it certainly is a hard habit to break. Yet, hundreds of thousands of men and women around the world quit smoking cold turkey every day. They are living examples of the power we have to break habits and transform ourselves in the blink of an eye. If they can do it, so can you and I. Blink your eyes and change!
Here are the Steps to Making a Big Change:.
1. BELIEVE IT IS POSSIBLE
Your success is determined more by your belief than by any other factor. Regardless of how hard you plan and work at it, if you do not believe you can succeed, you will not. Conversely, regardless of the obstacles facing you, if you believe you can succeed, you will. Like the hundreds of thousands of men and women around the world who have quit smoking cold turkey, you, too, can transform yourself in an instant.
2. COMMIT TO CHANGE
Where does the power to make the change and overcome barriers come from? The power is yours as soon as you make a commitment. It will come to you when, for example, you throw down your last cigarette and proclaim, "That's it! I quit! I'll never smoke again!" A deep conviction, or willingness to do whatever it takes to succeed, releases the power to act and crush all barriers in the way.
Here's how Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 ~ 1832) described the power of commitment, "Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too."
3. ACT AS IF YOU ARE ALREADY THE PERSON YOU WANT TO BE
Immediately after making a commitment to change, act as if you are already the person you want to be. For in the days and weeks that follow, your new behavior will crystallize into a new habit. Moreover, your new behavior will cause others to treat you as the person you want to be. And their new way of looking at you will reinforce your belief that you have changed.
4. CELEBRATE YOUR SUCCESS
Congratulations on your success! Now it's time to celebrate. When you do so, it helps seal your new identity. But when you celebrate, do so in a manner that adds to rather than takes from your life. Treating yourself to dinner with friends is an example of adding to life, but celebrating by getting drunk with friends only invites trouble and the possibility that you may begin to unravel the good you have already accomplished.
Although it may have taken you ten minutes or more to read this article, you have the power to transform yourself in ten seconds or less. I wish you an exciting new life that begins in just a blink of an eye!
Chuck Gallozzi lived in Japan for 15 years, immersing himself in the wisdom of the Far East. He is the author of the book, The 3 Thieves and 4 Pillars of Happiness, 7 Steps to a Life of Boundless Joy He is also a Certified NLP Practitioner, speaker, and seminar leader. Among his additional accomplishments, he is also the Grand Prix Winner of a Ricoh International Photo Competition, the Canadian National Champion in a Toastmasters International Humorous Speech Contest, and the Founder and Head of the Positive Thinkers Group that has been meeting at St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto since 1999. He was interviewed on CBC's Steven and Chris Show, appearing nationally on Canadian TV. Chuck is a catalyst for change, dedicated to bringing out the best in others and his main home on the web is at: Personal-Development.com.