Have you ever felt stuck in your life? Maybe you have been faced with a problem over and over again, and you can’t seem to overcome it? Maybe that same problem resurfaced at different times in your life? This isn’t another article singing the praises of positive thinking (I promise), but if the above sounds vaguely familiar at all, consider the story of the baby elephant:
A baby elephant is trained at birth to be confined to a very small space. Its trainer will tie its leg with a rope to a wooden post planted deep in the ground. This confines the baby elephant to an area determined by the length of the rope—the elephant’s comfort zone. Though the baby elephant will initially try to break the rope, the rope is too strong, and so the baby elephant learns that it can’t break the rope. It learns that it has to stay in the area defined by the length of the rope.
When the elephant grows up into a 5-ton colossus that could easily break the same rope, it doesn’t even try because it learned as a baby that it couldn’t break the rope. In this way, the largest elephant can be confined by the puniest little rope.
Excerpt From: “The Success Principles(TM)” by Jack Canfield.
Overcoming Limiting Beliefs
We’re often held back in our life by these limiting beliefs we hold onto about ourselves. The most powerful stories are the one we tell about ourselves, when we’re by ourselves, to ourselves. It’s the voice of that pesky internal critic that seems to be most opinionated when nobody else is around. The feedback it shares isn’t always the most constructive. And we wonder why modern society is filled with so many sad people.
The human brain likes to hold on to learned patterns and behaviors, but regardless it is constantly evolving. Your thinking patterns, therefore, can change also: or the better – or for the worse. Since our brain is hardwired to keep us safe, human beings have a negativity bias. Our brain first looks for any perceived dangers in our environment, and will immediately pick up on any potential threats. It’s a good feature because it keeps our bodies safe, but the focus on negativity also strongly affects our overall happiness and wellbeing. Watching the news every night, with more bad news added to your day, doesn’t necessarily help improve your mindset either.
Finding (Temporary) Happiness
The solution is to re-shift your focus to a positivity bias. Unnatural as it may seem given our biological tendencies, finding even a temporary state of happiness can bring relaxation. Sounds like there is a scientific explanation for my tendencies to use travel as an escape and put my mind and body in a different reality. The key is ultimately to bring that experience home. That’s what my Happiness book is all about: bringing back a sense of happiness from your travels as the ultimate mental souvenir.
That starts right at home. Awareness is the first step to change. If you’re aware of your mind’s bias, play with it. Try to be on the lookout for the positive aspects of life. Right now, no matter how difficult your situation may be, what is one thing that you could enjoy right in this very moment as you’re reading this? If it’s booking a trip, go for it – but maybe it’s as simple as a good cup of coffee or listening to your favorite piece of music. When you find yourself in that rare moment of happiness you may just notice other good things that you hadn’t before.