Perhaps you have noted an idea in this book, or another recent book that you’ve read, that you want to hold on to. It might be an idea that you knew, the moment you saw it, would always be useful to you. You might even have underlined it for future reference.
But what if the book goes on the shelf, or gets loaned to a friend, and is forevermore out of sight and out of mind? This is a very common experience, and there is a remedy: Start treating self-motivational ideas as if they were songs.
You can find ways to rewind these ideas so they’ll play again and again until you can’t get them out of your head. That’s how belief systems are restructured to suit our goals. Place the thought you want to remember into the jingle track in your brain so that it can’t get out.
You can create a new self by learning the beliefs you want to live by—one thought at a time. Learn these thoughts as you would the lyrics for a song you had to perform on stage. A friend of mine used to learn his parts in musicals by placing index cards with song lyrics all over his office, home, and bathroom mirror. He sometimes had them on the dashboard of his car. Why? He was making a conscious visual effort to reach the backside of his own mind.
The trick is to keep this motivation going. To deliberately feed your spirit with the optimistic ideas you want to live by. Any time a thought, sentence, or paragraph inspires you or opens up your thinking, you need to capture it, like a butterfly in a net, and later release it into your own field of consciousness.
For me, discovering an exciting idea in a book or magazine is like a true peak experience. It makes the world bright and incomprehensible. I get that tingle in my spine. I get that “Oh, yes!” feeling. Why am I this lucky? And the more I deliberately fill my mind with the words and phrases that originally stirred the peak experience, the easier it is to remember that life is good.
“This,” writes Colin Wilson in New Pathways in Psychology, “is why people who have a peak experience can go on repeating them: because it is simply a matter of reminding yourself of something you have already seen and which you know to be real. In this sense, it is like any other ‘recognition’ that suddenly dawns on you—for example, there cognition of the greatness of some composer or artist whom you had formerly found difficult or incomprehensible, or the recognition of how to solve a certain problem. Once such a recognition ‘dawns’ it is easy to reestablish contact with it, because it is there like some possession, waiting for you to return to it.”
During my talks on self-motivation, one of the questions I’m asked most often is “How do I keep this going?” People say, “I love what I’ve learned today, but I’ve often gone to seminars that got me motivated and then a few days later I was back to my old pessimistic self, doing exactly what I used to do.”
If I were in the mood to be blunt, I would answer the question this way:Why, if you love what you’ve learned about self-motivation, would you ask me how to keep it going in your life? The person in this room best equipped to answer your question is you. So I’ll ask you, “How will you keep this going in your life?” I bet you could give me 10 ways you could do it. And I bet that if this were a foreign language you had to learn you would set aside a certain amount of time each day to review it, to read it out loud, and to make certain you learned it. I bet you’d buy tapes or CDs for your car and even arrange small study groups. So the real question is this: Is mastering the art of motivation as important as learning another language?
Even a single phrase, placed prominently in a home or office, can have a huge impact on your life. In Arnold Schwarzenegger’s childhood home in a poor town in Austria, his father framed and hung the simple words,“Joy Through Strength.” It’s not hard to see what effect that idea had onArnold’s life.
Once while I was attending a Werner Erhard seminar, I had some free time during a break so I wrote myself a letter. I put down all the ideas I wanted to remember from the seminar and I sealed them in an envelope.I took it home and a month later I mailed it to myself. When I opened it at work and read it, it was like a fresh experience all over again.
I was so impressed by how effective this was for me that I employed the idea in one of my own seminars. I had everyone in the audience write out the important insights they’d received and what they intended to do differently in their lives from this moment on. When the people were finished, I asked them to seal the letters into the envelopes I’d provided and address the envelopes to themselves. I told them I would hold them for a month and then mail them all.
The reports I got back were remarkable. Some people said seeing those thoughts written to themselves in their own handwriting brought the whole seminar back to them. They felt a rush of excitement and a new commitment to take action.Are you willing to remind yourself to treat yourself to your own best thoughts? Are you willing to set visual traps and ambushes, so you’ll always see words and thoughts you know you want to remember?