When we look around, we find very few of our fellow human beings happy, fulfilled or leading purposeful lives. Most of us seem unable to cope with our problems and the circumstances of daily living. The majority of us, settling for the average, have resigned ourselves to ‘just getting by’. Resignation to mediocrity has become our way of life. As a result, feelings of inadequacy cause most of us, quite humanly, to blame society, other people, circumstances and surrounding conditions for our failures and disappointments. The idea that people and things control our lives is so thoroughly ingrained in our thinking that we normally do not respond to logical arguments that prove otherwise. We find ourselves underestimating our self-worth or are scared of attempting something new because of the fear of failure. William James, an eminent philosopher and psychologist, had once remarked, “The greatest discovery of our age has been that we, by changing the inner aspects of our thinking, can alter the outer aspects of our lives.” Hidden in this statement is the dynamic truth that we are “not victims but co-creators in the building of our lives and the world around us.” Or as a sage has said, “We aren’t what we think we are, but what we think we are!”
Here the author cites the case of sheep which conform to a habit and follow the other sheep. We too spend valuable, irreplaceable years trying to fit into the parade only to learn too late that we cannot fit in it. This is simply because we are trying to conform to the majority. Here the author instructs us, “Much of our suffering can be eliminated if we refuse to let our lives become marred by conformity. To think that our lives are controlled in any way by another individual, group or society imposes a condition of mental slavery that makes us prisoners by our own decrees.”
This way our thoughts become the blueprints that attract all the elements that go into fulfilling our concepts, whether they be positive or negative, and what we get in our lives is outward manifestation of what has been going on in our minds.
Another problem we face is change, says the author. We get so conditioned since childhood by false concepts, values and beliefs that we fail to realise how truly capable and unique we are. By virtue of our role as co-creators, we have the power to change many of its aspects. Hence, we should never look to someone outside ourselves to solve our problems because “the kingdom of Heaven is within.” Self-healing powers are within. Health, happiness, abundance and peace of mind are natural states of being once we break the bonds of positive thinking. The author advises that one of the principal requisites for change and for a self-confident personality is to satisfy our own needs first.
The only way to improve the human situation is for each individual to take charge of his or her own life. This is the only way to be free. We can start on an adventure that will reward us for the rest of our life. We have to break the bonds of limitations that hold us back when we are in a situation where we seem to be going nowhere, or we feel inadequate and unable to face life with enthusiasm and confidence. If we are disgusted with mediocrity, disappointed by past results and content to drift through life, the book teaches us to be open and receptive to new concepts, values and beliefs and how to discover why we should and how we can systematically reorganise our thought processes to awaken the new us.
The author suggests a 21-day habit which seems like an effective learning technique. He determines that it takes about 21days to break an old, destructive habit or form a new positive habit. When reading this book, we move from initial understanding to knowing. In order to know something, it has to become a part of our thinking, feelings, actions and reactions and this takes time. Some important points suggested by the author for acquiring self-confidence are:
* tap into your creative imagination and use it to get what you want
* clear your mind of fear, worry and guilt
* communicate better and learn the art of small talk and get a perspective and set goals
* overcome the pitfalls of conformity and the need to manipulate
In short, a positive mental attitude is the most important tool for building one’s self-confidence. This is a self-help book which may be read to gain information which you may not know already.
(HarperCollins Publishers, A-53 Sector 57, Noida-201301.)