We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves. Buddha
I’ve been doing some reading over Christmas, of a book called Outwitting the Devil by Napoleon Hill. Published in 1938, this manuscript proved to be so controversial it was hidden for over seventy years! One assumes that the controversy sprang from Hill’s central conceit of a man on earth interviewing the Devil to wheedle from him his manipulation tactics.
In his infamous book, Hill shines a torch into our deepest internal shadows where lurks our obstacles to achieving our personal goals. Hill names these as:
It’s these that we have to outwit in order to achieve our goals.
Hill referred to these emotions as tools orchestrated by the Devil himself. Yet, you don’t have to believe in either God or a supernatural Devil for this to be a useful analogy. The devil within, imposter syndrome, self-talk – call it what you will – these hidden control methods are all capable of undermining our ability to succeed. Not only can they – all too often they do!
At the start of a new year, as we’re looking forward and setting goals it’s an ideal time to take a look at this notion of becoming what we think we are or achieving what we visualize.
As you can see from the quotation at the top of this post, Hill wasn’t espousing anything new. The essence of Hill’s message is contained in those words from Buddha. It’s fair to say though, that Hill took this ancient notion and ran with it.
It seems that Hill had a gift, an uncanny ability to get to the root of our potential and to identify the aforementioned obstacles to our reaching our personal goals. He identified seven principles to outwit the unhelpful voice in our minds:
- Definiteness of purpose – staying focused
- Mastery over your self
- Learning from adversity
- Controlling environmental influences. Think about who you choose to associate with. The idea here is that we may become more like those we spend time with. Other people’s attitudes can rub off on us – so we begin to think like them. Unless we tell it otherwise, social media and search engines curate what we see depending on how we search for information. So we can easily get the idea that there is no other angle. Fake news – rings a bell?
- Time: spend more of it on thinking positive rather than negative thought habits. This may need practice but it’s amazing what a difference it can make to your outlook on life and the world.
- Harmony: acting with definiteness of purpose to become the dominating influence in your own mental, spiritual and physical environment.
- Caution: thinking through your plan before you act.
So what’s the relevance of all this to our complexion and our appearance? Well, as I know I’ve touched on before in previous blogs, there are a lot of factors at play here: genetics, diet, lifestyle – too much drinking and smoking, not enough exercise and fresh air. And of course a decent skincare routine. All of these contribute to our external appearance. And so does our mindset!
Okay – let’s not pretend that thinking positive thoughts is going to turn a face with an average arrangement of features into Angelina Jolie. But what developing a happier/more positive outlook will do is:
- Make others perceive you as attractive – smiling, twinkly eyes are more alluring than sad eyes wouldn’t you say?
- Limit the development of wrinkles
- Help you to stay healthy and deal with illness when it does come along
As this 2010 article from the Daily Mail’s femail magazine about talking yourself beautiful points out: ‘There have been many studies looking at the effects of positive thinking on the immune systems of people with diseases such as cancer. Those who are positive seem to fare much better than those who are miserable and give up.’
So yes. We can think ourselves beautiful. By which I mean in spirit as well as physical appearance. As René Descartes had it: I think therefore I am. Of course, saying nice things to yourself won’t send the crows feet flying. But if you are what you think – then it stands to reason that your thoughts will have an effect on your behaviour, your mind, your body and yes – your looks.
I’ll leave you with Buddha again: We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.
My wish for you in 2018 is that you may channel your thoughts to help you make the world you want.