Are you grateful for what you have?

You can't focus on what you don't have, when you're grateful for what you have.You can’t focus on what you don’t have when you’re grateful for what you have.

I came upon this quote in a blog post by T. Harv Eker — a man who helps entrepreneurs like me dominate the world. So naturally, I listen to what he has to say.

Now, I don’t know for sure if Harv came up with the quote originally. (In fact, I’m pretty sure Tony Robbins also has a saying along those lines.) But it’s really not that important. What’s important is the message.

Being grateful for what you have takes you to a state of appreciation and calmness. And those of you who practice meditation will immediately see a resemblance.

But furthermore, those of you who practice meditation might also recognize a certain principle in how one, positive state of mind doesn’t allow the persistence of another, negative state of mind.

When you’re truly, deeply grateful for what you have, you’re not focusing on any lack or need there might be in your life.

(And yes, both meditation and being grateful for what you have ARE necessarily positive states of mind. In fact, find just one person who practices both regularly because it makes him or her feel worse.)

Okay, so what’s so great about this?”, you might ask. Well, the thing is, what we focus on is how our lives become.

People who are obsessed with never having enough money for this-and-that don’t GET enough money for this-and-that.

I know this firsthand, because I’ve been that guy for way many more years than anyone would need to.

And get this:

Even if we consider ourselves to be driven away from what we don’t have, our subconscious minds don’t get it. Our subconscious minds don’t GET a negative!

Go ahead: Don’t think about a blue elephant right now. A blue elephant is the last thing that should be on your mind. Whatever you think about, just DON’T think about a blue elephant.

… Yeah, we all know the example.

So it’s when we cultivate a mindset of gratitude and abundance that our subconscious mind starts to look for more abundance to be grateful for.

Now, let’s say, for the sake of simplicity, that there’s two kinds of people in the world: Those who cultivate a mindset of gratitude and abundance, and those who cultivate a mindset of scarcity and lack.

Can you guess which group might be more confident, and which one might be less confident??

Attaboy.

Non-fident people, as I call it, tend to let their happiness depend upon getting new things. And I’m sure we’re all familiar with the idea that “things are gonna start to look up for me whenever I’ll get that [degree/job/car/house/relationship/whatever]”.

And then what happens? Well, either we get it or we don’t. And if we don’t, we immediately go into a state of disappointment and blame it all on NOT getting what we want.

… But if we DO get it…

Well, we might be happy. At least for a while.

But have you noticed how that happiness just never lasts? How you seem to think that you need to chase the attainment of one new thing after the other?

That’s because for some reason, you can’t be grateful for what you have. And as long as it’s like that, you’ll never be truly happy or truly confident.

Well okay, but what if I need to focus on my goals to attain them??”

Of course you do. — And you should. Eyes on the prize. But you’ll never get there if you come from a place of lacking and needing; you’ll only create more lack and need.

Paradoxically, we need to detach ourselves from our goals. We need to be happy without them.

This can be a bit of a mind-twister, I know. Especially if your goal is to increase your confidence. How can I be confident if I’m not confident, right?!

The good news is, even if being grateful for what you have doesn’t come natural to you, it’s a learnable skill.

Treat whatever confidence you DO have like you just treated that blue elephant:

Focus on it. Keep focusing. And be grateful for it. In time, it will, necessarily, expand.

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Why is it so hard to build confidence? — 4 likely reasons

Why is it so hard to build confidence? The phrasing in this question can tell us a lot about ourselves.I see this one a lot. Not necessarily Why is it so hard to build confidence?, but more or less desperate variants thereof. Such as Why is it so hard to be yourself? and even Why can’t I be happy?.

Sticking with the first one here, why IS it so hard to build confidence, then?

The answer is to be found in a variety of different contributing factors, which I’ve gathered into four general points:

#1: Major changes take their time

From a purely logical point of view, if building confidence was easy, everyone in the world would be confident. Making a million dollars isn’t easy, either, but some people do it anyway. Because it’s sufficiently important to them.

I know: Sometimes the world can change within a heartbeat. Like with the Kennedy assassination or 9/11. But chances are, if you’re really down in the dumps you’re not gonna flip 180° and become an action hero overnight.

The reason that the idea of quick fixes is so prevalent is because it appeals to our comfort. Which is, on a basic level, low confidence in disguise.

Whenever we don’t feel like doing [X] even though it’d be supportive for us, we look at it as being “too hard”, “too tough”, “too much”… Et cetera.

So, from a reverse perspective, we don’t consider ourselves strong, persistent, and altogether capable of doing [X]. And as an added bonus, we might not consider ourselves worthy of the supportive outcome that doing [X] would bring about.

Seeking quick fixes is our non-fidence at play. Nurturing our patience, then, is the key to confidence.

#2: You’re not putting your back into it

This whole “quick fix”-mentality can lead us to believe that hard things are easy. And this is a belief that leads us to only do what’s easy.

For example, in the case of building confidence, many people will tell you that you need to do positive affirmations — writing down a couple of new, supportive ideas about yourself, which you then repeat several times a day. Such as, “I love myself, and I can do whatever I want”.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with doing positive affirmations in and by itself. (In fact, I have an entire page of them which I read 3-4 times every day.) But the thing is, if all you do is this ONE, easy thing, it’s not gonna have much of an effect on you.

And so, it’s only a matter of when your patience runs out, and you give up and become even more discouraged and non-fident.

Now, I’m not saying that you should spend hours of your waking time every day doing confidence-building exercises galore. We all have daily lives to go about, and confidence is what supports us in going about said daily lives.

… But we NEED to do things that support our confidence, and we CAN’T count on a 30-second affirmation to turn us into Alexander the Great (or, optionally, Joan of Arc if you’re female).

This includes stuff like socializing, eating healthy, practicing meditation and physical exercise, sleeping 7-8 hours every night, regularly evaluating yourself by keeping a journal, and, not the least, working towards a goal that brings meaning and purpose to you and your life.

Do as much of this as you possibly can. And keep in mind that while one’s actions are critical, one’s thoughts matter just as much. We wanna do the right things, yes; but thinking about them in a confident manner helps us do them.

#3: You give up too fast

Giving up on things, abandoning projects, and altogether going about life half-assedly is often seen in non-fident people. And, like I was getting into before, it kinda makes sense in this regard.

Think about it. You’ve been shown an alleged quick and easy path to the promised land of confidence, and after weeks you still feel like you’re going nowhere. Would that make for even more encouragement?

 And what’s one more failure  if you’re already used to giving up?

The tricky thing here is that generally, confident people don’t give up. So if we wanna build confidence, we have to get into the mindsets and habits of not giving up.

Basically, if we wanna learn not to give up, we do it by not giving up.

This brings me to the final point…

#4: You’re not sufficiently confident yet

Whenever we ask, — or, indeed, think — Why is it so hard to build confidence?, it says a lot about the way we think.

Because, we’re impying that building confidence IS, necessarily, hard.

It’s circular reasoning, really. The conclusion is part of the premise. Like when you teasingly ask someone, Have you stopped wetting your bed yet?, or, Do you still go around setting cats on fire?

But isn’t it just as much circular reasoning that I need to have confidence before I can have confidence?

Yes. Fortunately, though, that’s not what I’m saying. The gist of it all is that while it might be hard right now, it really does get easier. And the reason for that is because we steadily become more confident.

Some people would talk about “faking it ’till you make it” in this regard. I’d say it’s a simple matter of learning to crawl before you can walk.

And, like I’ve written about before, it might not be easy, but that doesn’t mean it’s complicated.

In summary, building confidence is highly an inner-game thing. It’s about what we do, yes, but it’s just as much about how we think.

And if we think in terms of life and its many challenges being hard, we’re not only thinking non-fidently; we’re setting ourselves up for failure.

Conversely, then, when we think in terms of life and its many challenges being endurable, we’re thinking confidently and setting ourselves up for success.

Therefore, do not ask, Why is it so hard to build confidence? Instead, ask questions like…

 – How important is it for me to be confident? Do I genuinely want to live my life with confidence?

 – How can I find the patience in me to let great change happen in its own time?

 – Am I trying to force something which might not respond positively to being forced?

 – Do I consider myself worthy of steadily building confidence and never giving up no matter what?

 – Am I doing the right things? Could I possibly be doing even more? And if yes, what?

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Is it true that we can choose how we react?

We can choose how we react to our circumstances. -- Depending on our level of awareness.It is often said that we cannot choose what happens to us, but we can choose how we react to it.

While the idea itself is probably way older, the above quote is often ascribed to the Greek Stoic philosopher Epictetus (55-135 C.E.).

Specifically, he stated the following:

Our opinions are up to us, and our impulses, desires, aversions – in short, whatever is our own doing. Our bodies are not up to us, nor are our possessions, our reputations, or our public offices, or, that is, whatever is not our own doing.

What does this have to do with confidence and empowerment? Only pretty much everything.

See, I’ve found that the most basic difference between a confident and a non-fident mindset is the awareness of optional reactions. Like I’ve written about before, confident people have a mindset of abundance, possibilities and proactivity. Whereas non-fident people have a mindset of scarcity, limitations, and re-activity.

When we become confident, it’s because we shed our fears. This allows us to see possibilities where we used to see limitations and obstacles. And this, in turn, makes actively and consciously choosing what to do so much easier.

It’s when we’re confident that we can choose how we react.

However, this means that the saying of Epictetus isn’t 100% true.

Partly because non-fident people can’t always choose how to react. Because, non-fidents tend to look at life as something that happens to them rather than something which they’re able to influence. Therefore, their awareness of their available options are at a general low — often equaling zero.

Our level of awareness, then, determines to what extent we can choose how we react.

Furthermore, I see several patterns indicating that we can — to a certain degree — choose what happens to us.

Again, this highly depends on our level of confidence. Because the more confident we are, — and, hence, the more proactive we can be, — the more we’re able to set ourselves up to succeed.

The more we’re able to adjust our habits, our environment, our mentality, and our network of people to our advantage, the more we increase the possibility of great things happening in our lives. And the more confident we are, the more we’re able to do this.

If I could decide ONE quote, ONE piece of learning for you to take with you from me, the above might very well be it. Because this is the essence of what confidence does to us. Not only does it mean that we can choose how we react; it also enables us to build that future of happiness and success that we secretly yearn for. And, of course, it allows us to feel worthy thereof.

So, while he did make a name for himself, Epictetus might essentially have been too Stoic for his own good. 🙂

We can observe in highly confident people how having great confidence affects us. How it allows us to create our own realities. And how it really does mean that we can choose how we react.

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Is your life running on autopilot?

Confident people do what they want. Non-fident people tend to be running on autopilot.Ever get the feeling your life is somewhat running on autopilot?

That you’re not really working on what you truly want, and that you’re putting off certain necessary things because you feel a need for instant gratification?

And, in turn, do you ever think that you “really should be doing” X? That you really “ought to be doing” Y? But maybe you can’t, because you “have to do” Z?

I know where you’re at. It’s not a good place.

Why would we allow ourselves to get there? Why would we allow ourselves to be running on autopilot like that?

As far as I can see, most people tend to let their lives run on autopilot to a certain extent. Not necessarily out of fear, but because they identify with what other ordinary people do, which is… Ordinary stuff.

Those who stand out are always the confident ones. Those who have the guts, the energy, and the resourcefulness to do what they want, and what’s necessary to get to where they want.

The non-fident ones, on the other hand, tend to be full-out running on autopilot. They tend to do whatever they do, because they feel like they “should”, or “have to”.

And, since this is essentially an inhibitive way of living, they tend to overcompensate on activities of instant gratification, e.g. getting drunk every weekend or slouching in front of the TV when not at work. — Effectively creating a loop of guilt and emptiness without purpose.

Oh, I’ve been there.

Does anyone genuinely want to live like that? Of course not. But many people feel obliged to, simply because they don’t know any better.

What do you mean by “know any better”?? What exactly do I need to know then?

Good question. And for that, you get the answer right here:

We “should” not do anything. We “ought” not do anything. In fact, we don’t even “have” to do anything.

There is only what we want to do, and what is necessary to do.

But then shouldn’t we do what’s necessary? Don’t we HAVE to do that?

Well, no. It’ll probably have consequences if you don’t. But really, we’re entirely free to do whatever we want.

Confident people know this. Confident people act from a mindset of freedom and safety. Whereas non-fident people tend to act from a mindset of desperation and captivity.

But what about paying my taxes? If I don’t pay my taxes, I’ll get punished somehow, right?

Probably, yes. But that’s not the point.

The point is, confident people do what they want AND what’s necessary.

Not because they feel forced into doing what’s necessary, but because they’re proactive about not having bad consequences happen to them — and about doing what they want.

Non-fident people, then, tend to do what others want. Or at least what they think others want. And, hence, to be running on autopilot.

I really ought to be doing my homework”.

I’m 30, I should be married by now”.

I have to get this report done on time”.

I hear bells ringing all around.

I’m not saying that one’s daily tasks and chores aren’t at all necessary. For the major part, they ARE more or less important. But they’re not necessarily essential to what we truly want to do.

ACTION ITEM:

This week, note your daily tasks by durance and importance. At the end of each day, and at the end of the week, add them all up.

How many hours a day do you spend on doing something you allegedly “have to”, “need to”, or “ought to”? How many hours a day do you spend on doing something you truly want to?

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