Since this blog is not only about physical but also about mental fitness, I would like to dive more into mental topics in this blog post. Our mind and especially the attitude of how we perceive the outside world determine greatly how well we do in life and how happy we are!
The mind and its components
For the purpose of this post, we will divide the mind into two parts: the conscious and the subconscious mind. The conscious mind is your thinking mind and is responsible for reasoning, analyzing and decision-making. It processes information that is received through any of the six senses. Conscious thought processes are therefore intentional, controllable and accessible to awareness.
Our subconscious mind is like a huge memory bank and we have no idea what information it can store and what its true potentials are. The subconscious is the basis of automation processes such as habits, instincts, movements and other patterns. We could also describe this as the programming of our mind.
As you can probably imagine this can be an extremely powerful tool, which can go both ways. People who get into the habit of excessive smoking or drinking program their mind to harm their own body and soul. However, this can also go the other way if you build good and healthy habits that will benefit you throughout your life. Of course, there are also external influences (such as society, culture etc.) that shape your character but for this post, we want to focus on what each one of us can control and not on things that we can hardly change.
So if there is the possibility to program your mind, who is the programmer? How do you manage to program your mind and build these good habits that will make you a stronger and healthier person? To answer this question I would like to tell you a beautiful short story I came across a few months ago. This is a Cherokee Indian legend and teaches us a lot about our internal processes and thoughts. It goes something like this:
Tale of the two wolves
An old Cherokee Indian and his grandson are sitting around the fire at night, talking about life. Since the grandson has been thinking about this for quite some time, he is asking his grandfather, “What makes some people do bad things and others do good things?”
The old Cherokee replies, “Inside each one of us there is a constant battle between two wolves. One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”
He continues, “The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and every other person as well.”
The grandson thinks about this for a minute and then asks his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?”
The old Cherokee smiles and quietly says, “It is the one you feed, my son.”
The power of the subconscious mind
This is such a true story and shows us how great the influence of our thoughts is in our overall life and well-being. What you think about and dwell upon will in a sense appear and manifest in your life and influence your behavior. And this does not only apply to good and bad thoughts as described in the story but can also be transferred to all other areas of life.
Habits always start with small everyday decisions. So if you have the choice it always matters whether you are choosing the apple or the candy bar today or whether you are taking the stairs or using the elevator. This means that if you are constantly making the “right” small decisions every day you can achieve incredible things in the future that you wouldn’t even dream of.
Using the creative mechanism
You can achieve this all with the help of your subconscious mind. The subconscious mind is the two wolves, it eats everything your conscious mind feeds it with. This can, as illustrated above, occur through theoretical or practical information, or through all kinds of experiences.
It is therefore crucial with what you feed your subconscious with. Your subconscious mind doesn’t care about the type of information you are feeding it with, because it will always reflect your reality, so the reality you are creating with your own thoughts. That is why for example criminals, like Al Capone think they were doing the right thing and doing good for society. They were feeding their subconscious long enough with “bad” information and experiences to finally think what they are doing is true and good. Their subconscious was matching their reality of a criminal lifestyle.
But you have a choice, feed the Evil Wolf and prepare yourself for unhappiness and negative effects on your physical and mental well-being. Or feed the Good Wolf and it will bring you happiness, health, and well-being.
The crucial question is “Which one are you feeding today”?
Peace and take care!
Photo credits: © Sergey Nivens & © kjekol / Fotolia