The Buddhists say that giving and receiving are the same. The Biblical principle of receiving begins with giving: "If you give, you will receive. The amount you give will return to you in full and overflowing amounts, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over." (Luke 6:38, NIV)
Transformative health encompasses all areas of your life, including your ability to live in a state of prosperity and affluence. The word affluence is derived from the Latin word affluere, which translates to mean "to flow." Interestingly, the term we use for money is currency, which also means "to flow." In order to live a prosperous life, you must learn to allow the energy to flow both ways. You cannot receive if you don't give. If you hold on too tightly to the things you have, your hands will be clutched tightly closed, making it impossible to receive. Let go and let abundance flow!
Commit to start living by the 80/20 rule. Each time you get paid take ten percent and give it back to God or a charitable endeavor. This tithe may be given to your church, a charity, a needy family, or a worthwhile cause for humanity. Spiritual leaders from all cultures have long believed in the prudence of the principle of tithing. Please note that this is not only about money; also give of yourself, your time, your compassion, your thoughts, and attention.
In addition to tithing ten percent of your income, set aside ten percent for yourself. Put it into a savings account or invest it in something for your future. The other eighty percent is your portion to cover your living expenses. By learning to live on eighty percent of what you make, you will avoid the financial burden of living from payday to payday. Invest your time and money in things that count.
Research weighs heavily in favor of optimism being a powerful tonic to help you stay healthier and live longer. When optimistic people encounter adverse health issues, they bounce back quicker and survive years longer than their pessimistic counterparts. They view hardships as learning experiences and even on the most miserable of days, optimists look on the brighter side and hold on to the promise that tomorrow will be better.
Being an optimist carries multiple benefits―including improved physical health, greater longevity, and stronger resilience to bounce back from stressful situations. Optimists also tend to exude higher levels of confidence and perform greater in achieving their goals. Have you ever noticed, when you fix your mind on the positive, you attract positive things back to yourself? The healthiest and happiest people are those who are optimistic about life. This is no accident. Optimism works like a magnet for health and happiness.
Are you a glass half-empty or a glass half-full type of person? It comes down to training yourself to have the mindset of an optimist. Seek continual feedback from your spouse or a good friend about your attitude and give them permission to honestly point out when you are sliding on the optimism scale. Begin each day with writing a gratitude list in your journal to put yourself in a positive frame of mind.
Limit the amount of time you spend listening to the news media you listen to―which is enough these days to drive anyone’s mood into a downward spiral. Also be aware of the company you keep and limit how much time you spend with chronic complainers. Don’t let pessimism rub off on you. Finally, focus on what you can control, and don’t waste time on things you can’t―that’s like preventing the sun from rising tomorrow. Build a habit of being the most optimistic person you know and expect good things to happen!
Just like bread that has been left out too long, your life can become stale if you don’t take actions to renew your mind. Based on Merriam-Webster, renew means "to restore to freshness, vigor or perfection; to begin again." According to the National Science Foundation, the average person thinks up to 60,000 thoughts per day; however, 95% are repeated from the previous day and an astonishing 80% are negative. Sounds like a convincing argument for renewing your mind and intentionally engaging in positive thinking.
Thoughts are the most powerful vehicles in the world for producing change. Everything you see today began because somebody thought it. To renew your mind means to gain a different perspective and look at the world through a new lens. Adopt a growth mindset that thrives on challenge and uses failure as a springboard for growing and stretching beyond your existing abilities. Personal transformation begins with a renewed mind.
The key to renewing your mind is to develop a growth mindset, also referred to in Eastern philosophy as “beginner’s mind.” Coach John Wooden once said, “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” With beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are only a few. Stay curious and be willing to question the “facts” you once believed to be irrefutable. After all, there was a point in history, when people believed it was a “fact” that the sun orbited the earth―until Galileo refused to conform to that belief.
Stop thinking how things should be and begin thinking how they could be. Spend time with creative people, brainstorming the 72 possibilities of how many uses you can come up with for a simple object like a spoon or a paper clip. Activities like that will help exercise your brain to create new neural pathways and generate new thought patterns. Also utilize meditation and journaling to allow your mind to free flow.
Nelson Mandela lived a remarkable life—from tending cattle as a boy to working as a fiery young lawyer in Johannesburg, then leading the underground wing of the African National Congress before being convicted of conspiring to overthrow the state and serving 27 long, lonely years in prison. For 18 of those years, he was housed at Robben Island west of Cape Town in an 8-foot by 7-foot concrete cell with only a straw mat to sleep on. When he arrived there, it quickly became clear that he was well respected as a leader among the inmates. As a consequence, he was singled out for punishment and humiliation, including being ordered to dig what he thought might be his own grave—then made to lie in it while the jailers urinated on him.
One quality above all others, that Mandela will be remembered for was his capacity to forgive, as well as to release the past. After he was elected president of South Africa, an aide asked him to provide a list of people he wished to invite to his inauguration dinner and he insisted on inviting one of his former jailers. On another occasion, he had lunch with the state prosecutor who had him convicted in 1964 for sabotage and sentenced to life imprisonment. The man wondered how in the world the head of the government would invite someone to lunch who prosecuted him thirty years before. The answer could be summed up by Mandela’s words upon his release: “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison.”
There comes a point in your life where you need to let go of the past—all the hurts, losses, pain, disappointments and failed expectations. It is the healthiest, most expedient way to move on. Have you ever watched a trapeze artist? He holds onto one bar, creates momentum, and then suddenly, in a split second, he must choose to either let go and grab the other bar with both hands, or keep holding on with one hand. If he chooses to hold on, one of two things will happen—either he’ll get stuck in the middle with one hand on each bar, or just fall completely. Neither leads to a preferable end.
You can’t possibly continue to move forward in your life if you continually try to hold on to things from your past. Releasing the past is not giving up or quitting. It doesn’t mean you are weak or unstable. It simply means you’re aware that to be able to experience anything new, better, or different, you must first let go. What are some things in your past that you need to release? Set yourself free from them now. You won’t move on and enjoy a truly successful life until you do.
James Stockdale, who served as a high-ranking officer during the Vietnam War, was held as a prisoner of war at the infamous Hanoi Hilton for over seven years. While in captivity, he was repeatedly tortured and suffered continually with little reason to believe he’d ever make it out alive. What eventually saved his life was his ability to acknowledge the reality of his situation and balance it with a steadfast belief that he would do whatever it took to ultimately survive and return home. As the commanding officer he modeled that philosophy for others who were held captive. Years later, Stockdale was asked in an interview with Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, about those who struggled the most under the duress and anguish of imprisonment. He quickly replied “Oh, it’s easy. I can tell you who didn’t make it out. It was the optimists.”
When Collins seemed incredulous about Stockdale’s answer, he elaborated: “They were the ones who always said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ Christmas would come and it would go. And there would be another Christmas. And they died of a broken heart.” On the one hand, Stockdale stoically accepted the brutal facts of reality, but on the other hand, he maintained an unwavering faith in the final outcome and a commitment to prevail. Collins went on to label this psychological duality as the “Stockdale Paradox,” and it has never been more relevant than it is in today’s society. Like James Stockdale, you must hold on to the belief that you can prevail in the face of any circumstance and remain resilient, without allowing unrealistic optimism to obscure the facts, regardless of how daunting the situation may seem.
Living a successful life won’t be attained simply by elevating your mindset and visualizing that everything will turn out in a positive light. That may make you feel good, but confronting the entire reality of every situation is essential for achieving long-term, sustainable success. Your optimism must be counterbalanced with the realization that you could fail miserably—but don't lose faith—your wildly imagined dreams might just as well come true. That’s the paradox. It's not about choosing which view to take, but instead leaning in to embrace both in opposition to one another, and realizing that in some transcendent way, they are both interconnected.
Such paradoxical thinking has been one of the guiding principles for many who have achieved outstanding success throughout history— and it can also be for you. Commit to do whatever it takes to firmly hold in one hand, a relentless belief that you will succeed in the end—along with the courage to overcome any obstacle you encounter in the other hand—and you will be prepared to conquer anything.