How to make positive changes once and for all
There are times when we realize that something in our lives has to change for us to be happy.
We know it from the very core of our being.
We also know exactly what we have to do to make that change.
But that change requires something so simple, but rare in this day and age.
The thing that holds us back the most from positive change is doubt. Doubt in our abilities, in our decisions, and in our future.
The more uncomfortable the change we seek, the louder doubt becomes.
“Wait! Remember all the insecurities you have about yourself?”
“This is scary, are you sure you want to do that?”
“You never know what might happen!”
“You might fail.”
“You're thinking too big.”
“It's better not to try at all than to fail.”
Why is faith important?
We all have dreams and goals for ourselves.
These are things we want for our future that we don’t yet see in our present lives.
It's our dreams and desires that give us a direction for life, but it’s faith that gets us there.
Without faith, we don’t last long in pursuing our goals.
Any goal that’s meaningful and important to us takes time and effort.
It doesn’t matter what type of goal it is: saving money, improving fitness and health, doing well in school.
For any worthwhile goal, we need to wait a while to see the results of our efforts.
The only thing that can sustain our motivation while we’re pursuing our goal is faith.
Faith is the key ingredient for success
Many of us have a personal mission in life.
When we first decide on our mission, we have a fire within us and a sparkle in our eye because it excites us and gives us direction and purpose.
But this emotional high doesn’t last. We hit dips in our journey towards our mission.
We feel discouragement. Then we start questioning our mission.
So what differentiates those who fulfill their mission and those who don’t?
Without faith, we throw in the towel at the first set back.
Without faith, we give in to fear and doubt.
Without faith, we give up on our dreams.
Faith is what sustains us through the hard times.
Faith is what is left after our initial excitement and determination are gone.
Faith is key to our success.
Why is it so hard to have faith?
Most of us feel like we can think our way through an issue or problem. The truth is, there is no way we can ever know all the variables that are influencing any given situation.
But we try anyway. It could be an irrationally inflated view of our own minds or a belief that rational thought can pretty much solve any problem in life.
Eventually we realize that there are limits to our rational mind but, nevertheless, we resist letting go of control.
We view letting go as vulnerability, when actually it's one of the most brave things we can do.
The reason we have such a hard time having faith is that we yearn for certainty.
Faith requires belief despite an absence of certainty.
In order to have faith, we must overcome this need to be absolutely sure of something before we go for it.
In essence, we need to embrace the ambiguous nature of life and the future.
We must overcome our insistence on defining everything in our lives.
Faith is certainty in the unseen and indefinable
Having a Christian upbringing and then later studying Taoism has brought to light a common message from both.
In the story of the burning bush, Moses asks God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you.” and they ask me, “What is his name?” Then what shall I tell them?’
God says to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you say to the Israelites: “I am has sent me to you.”
God does not allow Moses to place a descriptor after “I am” because as soon as he does, he limits what God is.
He is defining the indefinable.
In this verse from the Tao Te Ching, a similar message emerges:
“The Way that can be articulately described is not the Unchanging way. The name that can be said out loud is not the Unchanging name. With your mouth unopened, and things left undefined, you stand at the beginning of the universe.”
If we contend that God and “the Way” can both be equated as the whole of the universe, then the message is the same.
In the Tao Te Ching, the verse states that as soon as we “articulately describe” or say “the name that can be said out loud”, we have limited what the Way is and limiting it to our definition.
When we’re caught up in perfectly “knowing” or describing what something is, we’re pretending that we fully understand something that we really don’t.
We spend a lot of time trying to be certain of things. This is when we believe that being rational will provide us the perfect decisions that will move our lives forward.
This isn’t the case.
If we want to grow in ways we never thought possible, we need to embrace the mysterious aspects of life.
Faith is only possible if we embrace the unseen, mysterious aspects of life.
Of course, there is a practical need to define things in our physical world, but as soon as we try to define the indefinable, we limit the possibilities of our lives and our dreams.
Instead, we need to admit that we can’t predict the future no matter how hard we try and have faith in our dreams.
How to keep the faith on your journey
1. Focus on what you can do in the present
We all make mistakes.
When we do, it’s so easy to convince ourselves to quit.
We come up with a million reasons why we should give up, give in, fold.
We dwell on our mistakes and live in the past instead of taking action in the present.
Why keep going when we don’t see any results and it’s so damn tough?
Because if we don’t stick it through, we won’t know if we would have actually made our dreams come true.
Because life’s too short to not try our very best and be our very best.
Because every tiny step forward counts.
Because sometimes we have to fight for our happiness.
Stop linking the past with the present and future.
We do this because we like to create linear cause and effect relationships .
This destroys our faith because we set the future in stone even when it hasn’t happened yet.
Our power lies in the present to change our future.
Just keep going the next day.
Pick up where you left off.
Focus on what you can control in the present.
Have unwavering faith in what you only see in your mind.
2. Focus on the 1%
In the show Stranger Things, when Joyce’s son, Will, goes missing, Chief Hopper tells her that 99% of the time a kid goes missing they are with a parent or relative. Joyce responds with, “But what about the other time? You said 99 out of a 100. What about the other time? The 1? The 1!??”
She was on to something.
The Scottish philosopher, David Hume, states that the statistically improbable events are where the mysteries of life reveal themselves because any connections we make between events are only in the imagination and based on very limited experience and knowledge.
In other words, even though something seems common, it doesn’t mean that’s what’s going to happen.
We must focus our attention on the 1% because it is where we will find the possibilities to keep our faith going.
When we are certain of something, we are focused on what is 99% certain.
When we focus on the 1%, our view of the world expands and fills with awe. Then our faith skyrockets.
History is filled with stories of people who kept their faith in the “unlikely” and changed the world.
Faith requires us to focus on the 1% to open our hearts and minds to the question “What if?”
Keep faith in yourself and your goals by focusing on the 1%.
That 1% is more powerful than you think.
3. Accept that mistakes are necessary on the journey.
We learn through continuous trial and error.
Babies only learn to walk because they relentlessly keep trying.
It doesn’t matter how many times they fall, they try again and again until they succeed.
Having faith means that deep inside we know we can eventually succeed if we keep trying.
This is actually a natural inclination that we’re born with but it has become stifled.
Somewhere along the way, we learned that mistakes are in the “bad” category.
We fear them. We hide them. We think they mean something terrible about us.
As a result, we give up after a few slip ups, or a few bad days.
We view every setback as a reflection of our lack of abilities or limitations as a person.
Faith is believing in yourself even after we have made mistakes.
It’s about continuing to try after falling down many times.
It about accepting our mistakes as an inevitable part of learning.
4. Seek out inspiration regularly
Sometimes it’s hard to consistently maintain our faith in day to day life.
This is because we can’t see our vision around us yet. It’s only in our minds.
So we have to do everything we can to keep ourselves inspired to keep working towards our goals.
Use inspiring books, articles, videos, quotes, or podcasts. There’s so much out there.
Pick and choose what resonates with you and makes you smile.
Anything you can find to uplift you and keep you looking forward towards your goals.
Save your favourites and keep looking at them.
Some of us feel silly doing this because it feels like frilly, mainstream positive psychology.
But, hey, we all need some encouragement and empowerment (link to empowerment page) and it’s not silly to move towards living full and meaningful lives.
5. Focus on the big picture
It can be easy to get caught up in the day to day tasks we need to do to reach our goals.
Before we know it, our hectic lives become overwhelming and frustrating.
This eventually leads to anxiety because we lose sight of why we began in the first place.
When this happens, it’s important to take a step back and remind ourselves of why we began in the first place.
Why will this make you happy?
Who are you doing this for?
Why is this goal or mission important to you?
Ask yourself these questions as often as is necessary for you.
Staying true to yourself and your mission requires unwavering faith.
Each day we have to muster up that faith anew by reminding ourselves that through our faith and actions, the whole universe shifts to give us what we want.
Eventually, we see what was once only a dream with our own eyes, and realize our faith was not in vain.