“You become what you think” is philosophy that has its roots in ancient teachings. The basis of the philosophy is that what you think most about over time is what you become. If my desire is to live a happy life, my question is happiness a matter of attitude? Another way of phrasing that question is, “is happiness a self-fulfilling prophecy?”
There’s a concept in psychology known as the “self-fulfilling prophecy.” This concept is built around the idea that a prediction that causes itself to become true is based in the making of the prediction in the first place. Robert K Merton, a sociologist, is credited with coining the expression, but the concept and the process have been understood back into antiquity.
On the surface the idea of a self-fulfilling prophecy seems of little validity or use. However, Dr. Wayne Dyer, internationally renowned author, speaker and researcher in the personal-development field, has demonstrated that a self-fulfilling prophecy, which he famously has described as “change the way you see thing and the things you see will change,” is a powerful tool for personal and social change.
How does it work, what’s the process?
Well, for example; you’re at work and you start thinking to yourself “I’m not going to make the deadline,” or you might casually comment to a co-worker, “I don’t think I can this stuff done. There’s way too much to do and it’s really tough going,” without knowing it, you are actually creating the conditions that will cause you blow the deadline.
That’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, because you prophesied that something going to happen and your subconscious is directing your conscious mind to do everything it can to make the prophecy happen.
So how is this connected to an attitude of happiness?
Ken Wert of the, “Meant to be Happy,” blog has a captured the very essence of “you are your thoughts,” and how that becomes a “self-fulfilling prophecy.”
We are our own self-fulfilling prophesy.
We are the products of our attitudes and mental states of mind. We are the external manifestation of the internal environment we create.
Those who live in the poverty of the mind eventually find their lives steeped in environmental poverty as well. Those who live in the poverty of the soul find their emotional and spiritual lives impoverished too. Those whose minds play in the gutter can’t help but pick up the mind diseases that lurk there.
On the other hand, when we elevate our thinking—in time—we also elevate our circumstances. All creation begins as thought. Every invention was first born as an idea. Every discovery and development passed through the birthing canal of imagination and contemplation. Every breakthrough was initiated by the thought that formed it.
Ken also offers practical advice on how and why “thought become things.” For example:
1. If I think negatively, I will more likely act negatively. Action is the outgrowth of thought. So negative thinking will repel positive people and the influence, friendship and opportunities they would have brought with them.
2. How I think influences what I focus my attention on. By focusing on the negative, the positive is more likely disregarded, overlooked or downplayed, thereby amplifying and magnifying the unfortunate and ugly by comparison.
3. Thinking negativity ignores opportunity. The more my attention is trained on the negative, the less of the positive I see or even believe is accessible to me, further “proving” I just don’t get any breaks in life. And so our thoughts dim the lights on the reality we experience, not fully realizing it was never the reality but our thoughts about it that dimmed.
Continue reading to hear more of Ken’s wonderful teaching on “self-fulfilling prophecies.”
How do you use this knowledge to your benefit?
The short answer is that you have the ability to choose. You can choose your thoughts in exactly the same way you choose the clothes you want to wear. The “trick” is that in order to have a choice you have to be aware that there is one.
Most of the time you’ve relinquished controlled to your subconscious mind. When that happens you become unaware that you are even making a choice.
An example might be; you’re cruising in your car, minding your own business, and a driver rudely cuts you off, you have an immediate reactive impulse that, most likely manifest (in thought, deed or both), as you getting ticked off at the inconsiderate driver.
In that moment you do have a choice, but unless you’ve created a practice of awareness around this particular situation, it’s unlikely that you will even realize that you actually had a choice to respond.
This unconscious (or subconscious) thought pattern is a habit.
Breaking a habit is a process of bring awareness to the habits that don’t serve you and then, without self-judgment, you begin to replace old self-destructive patterns with new more positive ones.
This is a practice that will evolve over time; it’s not a onetime goal you’re striving for.
I can almost guarantee you the first few times you decide to “interrupt” the old thought patterns, your awareness will be well after the fact.
But, simply noticing at your reaction all will begin to make a difference and over time, and the time between when you become aware of your reaction and when you are able to make a different choice, will begin to diminish; until one day you will catch yourself and choose a different response.
When that happens, you will experience a self-fulfilling prophecy and see that happiness is a matter of attitude.