We are in Portugal cycling this week. What a great place, great wines and great people. Earlier in the week we spent a fantastic evening with Julio Bastos and wife Isabelle at their incredible estate. The Bastos are maybe the 3rd richest family in Portugal. They wined and dined us in their castle-like home, complete with waiters and cooks that waited on us hand and foot.
If you Google Julio Tassara de Bastos you’ll find an impressive list of endeavors and success primarily in the production and export of wine. Although I don’t deal in wine myself (I do, however, drink my share!) I jumped at the chance to meet this successful couple and speak with them because they are the right kind of people to know. I was even more assured of this after our evening together. They were very warm and friendly people–not at all stuffy like some super wealthy people–and they even expressed sincere enthusiasm about eventually reading my books. It’s that kind of openness in people that make them so valuable as business contacts as well as friends.
I guess the real lesson here is not what you know but who you know, and what kind of people you come to connect with. It’s rather simple. Hang out with the right people and they will lead you to more of the right people and who knows what may come from that.
I’ve been thinking about my negative self-talk blog from last week and I figured we probably have more negative thoughts than we imagine so I did a bit of light research on it and, yep, there are a lot of ways negativity can seep into our thoughts.
The thing is, we constantly have this internal chatter where we comment on and determine how we interpret our circumstances. And a lot of us have this set of both conscious thoughts and less conscious assumptions and beliefs that lean to the negative side so that this internal chatter ends up being critical and, ultimately, demoralizing. And it’s very hard to get away from, unless you’re mindful of it:
- Next time you find you’re being critical of yourself, stop and find alternatives to “I’m an idiot!” or “I’m getting so fat!” such as “Next time, I’ll pay more attention and I’ll ace this!” or “I know I can eat better and I’m going to do that starting now!” This will stop you from what is called “Self-limiting talk” when the negative comments make you feel defeated and so you don’t bother looking for answers. Never accept defeat!
- Don’t jump to conclusions. “He must have thought I was a fool the way I keep blathering on!” or “I’ve never done this before. I’m going to fail terribly.” are your interpretations of situations but aren’t the actual truth. However, we make these statements facts in our mind by using this negative self-talk. Look at exactly what happened or will likely happen and keep your thoughts on the positive aspects of a situation.
- Stop using negativity when talking to others. What you say aloud becomes common chatter internally. When someone says you look good, don’t brush it off with an “Ugh! I feel like a whale today.” Instead say “Thank you. That’s sweet of you to say.” Or if you are used to saying “I’m just not good at that.” try saying “Someday I’m going to figure out how to do that!”
It’s those small but significant changes in our language both in our heads and when talking to others that a battle with too much negativity is fought and won. Just be mindful of what you say and what you think and turn negative commentary into positive, empowering statements!
In my singles match against a strong player at the Huntsman World Senior Games this last week, I found my internal dialogue turning very negative and as it did, so did my game. I was playing terribly–double faults, mis-hits, into to the net, etc. I just stunk.
In the first tie breaker, I found myself down 4-2. It was then that I said to myself, “You’ve got to get positive here or you’re going to lose.” So I pushed the negative thoughts aside and, sure enough, I won the next 5 points and the first set. During the second set I consciously kept my internal chatter much more positive and as a result my game was also consistently better.
The way we talk to ourselves is so very important in everything we do in life. If you say to yourself just before going in front of a microphone, “I am not going to do well today”, your subconscious hears you and, yep, you’ll probably blow the presentation.
And it’s not just the negativity. It’s also the language we use. Studies have been done that show when, for instance, a tennis player says to themselves “I just can’t double fault”, a huge percentage of people will go ahead and double fault. This is because the mind sees the most descriptive part of that thought, the act of double faulting, and ends up subconsciously focusing on that potential, just as it does when you think negatively.
So be careful and pay attention to all that chatter inside your brain. When you’re in the moment, push the negative out and imagine only the positive.
If you’re reading this blog you probably have some drive to keep learning but have you considered making it not just something you do when you have a free moment—learning that is–but a deliberate, regular thing you do?
Learning is essential to keeping your passions burning. You already know how energizing it is when you learn something new, something that makes you think and gets you moving. Not only that, learning keeps the mind sharp and may contribute to a longer, healthier life. Why would you let something so impactful be so incidental?
Instead, make a conscious effort to learn every day. Read a book before you go to bed. Read an article with your breakfast each morning. Take a class or workshop at least once a month. Go with your family or friends to a museum, a library event, a historic place–any place that gets you thinking–every few times you get together. Get audio books to listen to as you drive or tune into NPR or talk radio shows that interest you. Gather your colleagues and your network of like-minded people and have a regularly scheduled round robin conversation over wine or coffee.
These are all excellent learning opportunities that will keep your mind sharp and your passions burning. And you’ll be enjoying yourself while cultivating a lifelong goal that will help you live a long, happy life!