A few days ago I was reading some material by the lovely Jill Coleman of JillFit Physiques, when something she wrote hit me particularly hard; that is, it practically jumped off the page and bitch slapped me across the face!
The concept, simply put, was to be who you want to become. I say “simply put,” but for many of us, it is not that easy. We may nod our heads, “yes of course, be and then I will become” but secretly we are thinking, “won’t I be whatever I aspire to be after I take steps to become it?” We are programmed to think this way in numerous aspects of our lives. Often times, for example, when we think of success (or health or happiness for that matter), we believe that we must become that way first, only to be successful (or healthy, or happy) after a fixed point in time (i.e., the moment I became successful/healthy/happy). But if this is the case, then how do we get there in the first place? It is kind of like questioning which came first, the chicken or the egg?
The more I pondered this somewhat philosophical notion, the more it resonated with me. The truth is, transition and growth take time. We may not be immediately healthy or successful simply because we think as though we are, but the *thought* is the very first critical step of reaching any new way of being.
Why? Because thought precedes action, and our actions define us.
The key, then, is to identify where you want to go, who and how you want to be, and how you want people to remember you. What is most important in your life? What do you value above all else? These may be difficult questions to answer, and sometimes we have a good idea but maybe we don’t know for sure, or maybe we change our minds. That’s okay! I would be lying if I said I had it all figured out, if I knew exactly how I wanted to be remembered and what mark I wanted to leave. Yet as I gain experience in this world, I also gain an ever more clear picture of who I’d like to be and how I’d like to live my life. I am able to identify my own strengths and weaknesses, as well as the characteristics I admire and respect in others.
Moreover, creating a personal mantra (my new one, obviously, is be who you want to become), can help us align our actions to our intentions. In Hinduism, mantras are Vedic hymns, chanted or sung incantations of prayer that hold great spiritual significance. With or without spiritual associations, a mantra is a word or phrase which is used as an object of focus and concentration. In our fast-paced daily grind, it is easy to lose sight of the bigger picture, and to get wrapped up in insignificant details, but using a mantra can help us to cultivate the practice of ongoing focus and clarity on who we’d like to be and how we’d like to live, even throughout our day to day obligations.
Mantra or no mantra, when we adjust our mindset so that our actions reflect how we aim to be, rather than how we currently are, we automatically embody the person we aim to be, with or without the label. It is Norman Vincent Peale who said, “change your thoughts and you change your world.”
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