The best lessons we learn in life are the lessons we learn over and over again.
The human mind needs lots of reminders—lots of practice—to operate effectively.
For example, deep down we know it’s OK to…
- Say “no”
- Speak up
- Tell the truth
- Believe differently
- Change our mind
- Prioritize our needs
- Learn from our mistakes
- Embrace our imperfections
- Forgive and seek forgiveness
- Begin again, stronger than before
Yet, we often seek the exact opposite when life gets stressful and we’re under pressure.
We do the wrong things even when we know better.
Because, the human mind has weaknesses. It becomes forgetful and insensible when it’s stressed. And the only way to conquer these weaknesses is to practice conquering them.
The mind is like a muscle, and just like every muscle in the human body, it needs to be exercised to gain and maintain strength. It needs to be trained daily to grow and develop gradually over time. If you haven’t pushed the mind in lots of little, positive ways over the course of time, of course it’ll crumble on the inevitable days that get overwhelmingly stressful.
The easiest strategy to practice strengthening the mind?
Daily Notes to Self
It’s all about keeping the right thoughts at the top of your mind every day, so they’re readily available on those inevitable days when you need them most. For Angel and me, that means pausing every day, as often as necessary, and reflecting on precisely what we need to remember. We write ourselves important visual reminders—our “notes to self”—like the ones below and then we place them where we can easily see and reference them throughout the day (my notes are taped on the wall directly in front of my desk, and then I have one as the wallpaper background on my phone). Some people call them affirmations, or quotes, or prayers, on convictions, but in any case, these “notes to self” keep us on track by keeping our minds empowered with positive, peaceful trains of thought, even when life gets utterly hectic.
Through this daily training—this visual practice—Angel and I have ultimately learned that peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard realities to deal with; peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be capable of maintaining a calm, collected mind.
To an extent, I know you’ve learned something similar over the years from experience, too.
But just like us, you often forget.
And that’s precisely why we have our “notes to self.”
So, my challenge to YOU is to start practicing alongside us today.
To get started, steal our “notes to self” below—perhaps just the ones that resonate most—and place them somewhere you can see them. Then, whenever you catch yourself feeling overly stressed out, pause for a minute and quietly read them to yourself. See how doing so gradually changes the way you think through life’s twists and turns and potholes.
Use Different Forms of Notes, Too
Written “notes to self” like the ones above are powerful, but they merely scratch the surface of possibilities for beneficial visual reminders. For instance, I have my laptop’s desktop background set to a photo of my family, both because I love looking at them and because, when work gets really tough, these photos remind me of the people I am ultimately working for. It’s so simple, but it helps.
I also know dozens of other people who successfully use similar visual reminders on a daily basis. A student of ours who has paid off nearly $100K of debt in the past five years has a copy of his credit card balance taped to his computer monitor at home; it serves as a constant reminder of the debt he still wants to pay off. Another student keeps a photo of herself when she was 90 pounds heavier on her refrigerator as a reminder of the person she never wants to be again.
Think of moments when you are most likely to give in to impulses that keep you stuck and take you farther away from your ultimate goals. Then use written “notes to self” and visual reminders of your goals to interrupt those negative impulses and keep yourself on track.
If you’re feeling up to it, we would love to hear from YOU.
Which reminder—or “note to self”—mentioned above resonates with you the most today, and why?