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Thinking Better in 2009

Thirty five years ago, I received a note from a girl (we were girls then) with whom I had known at a small woman's college in Philadelphia. It was on a sheet of lined paper from a small loose leaf binder. She had drawn a picture of young woman and with a dialogue box that read "I think no more. I think no less. I think better."

I still have that note and have thought about it many times over the past thirty five years. I do not remember the actual crisis that caused her to send me the note. I am not even sure which of us was having the crisis at the time but I have always remembered that note and that saying.

Unlike past years, I am not making resolutions but rather I am going to take steps to "think better." In cognitive-behavioral therapy, there is an idea that our thoughts cause our behaviors and our feelings, not external things, like people, situations, and events. The benefit of this fact is that we can change the way we think to feel / act better even if the situation does not change. In essence we have the ability to get the life that we want or as my husband says "Everything is as it should be."
Tips to thinking better in 2009.

1. Expressions to banish from our conversations:

a. "We have always done it that way" or "That'll never work."
It is important to look at a situation from a different perspective or see it through a different set of eyes. Simply because something has always been done a certain way does not mean that it has to continue. Even if there is no problem, doing a task differently make actually improve on it.
There may be many reasons not to do a task a certain way but that does not necessarily mean that the entire suggestion of how to do something is worthless. When I first started at the MSBA over 15 years ago, I was told that solo and small firm practitioners would never come to an educational program about office management or technology on a Saturday. It was going to be a terrible failure to even try. Fortunately I did not know enough about what I was doing to even consider not trying to do a program for solo and small firm practitioners.
Having just had the 10th Annual Solo and Small Firm Conference, I am very happy that I did not listen to "That'll never work."
b. "When I was your (or their) age …." I want to use this expression because, like most generations, I think my generation was much smarter, harder working, more polite, cuter, more respectful yada yada yada than the ones that have come after me. But even if it is true, all generations have the right to make their mark on history as they choose.
c. "I am too old" We may be slow. We may be too weary. We may be too jaded. We may be too out of shape. We may be too busy. But we are NEVER too old to try something new.
d. "I can't" Whether you think you can or you can't, you're probably right.
"People become really quite remarkable when they start thinking that they can do things. When they believe in themselves they have the first secret of success." Norman Vincent Peale

2. "Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow." (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Learn something new. Try something at which you may never excel. Do not be afraid to not be the best at an activity or task. Too often people do not expand their activities because they are comfortable in what they know they can do. As John Wooden, great basketball coach of UCLA, said "do not let what you cannot do, interfere with what you can do."

3. How you look at life determines what you see. You can either complain that rose bushes have thorns or that thorn bushes have roses.

4. "Activity and sadness are incompatible." - Christian Bovee
No matter how bad how bad you feel, whether mentally or physically, keep moving. Be around other people.

You are what you think about all day long."
- Dr. Robert Schuller

You become what you think about."
- Earl Nightingale

It's not true that life is one damn thing after another; it is one damn thing over and over."
- Edna St. Vincent Millay

Our minds can shape the way a thing will be because we act according to our expectations."
- Federico Fellini

"There is a power under your control that is greater than poverty, greater than the lack of education, greater than all your fears and superstitions combined. It is the power to take possession of your own mind and direct it to whatever ends you may desire."
- Andrew Carnegie

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