Change Your Thinking...or else!
I have long struggled with the concept of "renewing your mind". If almost seems impossible. We are all aware of that thoughts lead to actions and actions lead to habits. The real battleground in life is indeed the space between our ears. Our thought life. Everyone battles with "stinking thinking". The trick of course is to recognize it and then do something about correcting it.
In the movie, The Pursuit of Happyness we find a man that was dealt a difficult set of cards...but what he did with those cards is what set himself apart from the crowd. Black, underemployed, homeless, separated from his wife with a child...how did he move forward...when all the obstacles were against him? In the movie his child was five or six years of age, in reality his son was just a toddler. What habits of thought can we learn from Chris Gardner?
To understand Chris Gardner I recommend Martin Seligmans book Learned Optimism. As the father of positive psychology he suggests that how a person answers the following question is the secret to successful thinking...and therefore...successful living.
How do you explain to yourself when something bad happens to you?
How do you explain it when you are fired from your job? How do you explain it to yourself when you do not make the sale? When your hockey team loses? When your company goes bankrupt? When your country is in a recession?
This is known as your "explanatory style".
What we find is that earned optimism is the habit of attributing one's failures to causes that are external (not personal), variable (not permanent), and specific (limited to a specific situation). For example, an optimistic person attributes his/her failures to external causes (the environment or other people), to variable causes which are not likely to happen again, and to specific causes that will not affect his/her success in other endeavors. This explanatory style is associated with better performances (academic, athletic, or work productivity), greater satisfaction in interpersonal relationships, better coping, less vulnerability to depression, and better physical health.
(Source: Wikipedia; Seligman, Learned Optimism)
To summarize...the next time you lose your job. Listen to how you explain it to yourself. If you are optimistic...it is likely that you attribute the failure experience to something external (the boss or economy), variable, (Life happens!) and specific (it is not a re-occuring problem and I'll be find another job tomorrow). If you are pessimistic...it is likely attribute your failure to something internal (I am lousy at my job), not variable (I have always been lousy at keeping a job) and not specific (it is a tough market out there and I think it will be a long time before I find anything).
Seligman's book is a must read for everyone. In particular, I appreciate his ABC system for challenging "Stinking Thinking." I have added a link in the Resources Section that will take you to a TED Talks that Professor Seligman did a few years ago. Buy the book, read it and if you don't agree that is a fabulous read...I'll buy it from you.