We’re not merely neutral computers absorbing information; we process and shape information in order to make sense of it. Research shows that unhappy people experience and react to circumstances differently from happy people.
For example, maybe you believe that you’re somehow always responsible for everything bad that happens. Maybe you believe that people are dishonest and are trying to cheat you. Maybe you believe that the worst possible consequence is the one most likely to happen. Different sets of assumptions make folks much more prone to anger, sorrow, and guilt—or not.
But, you may be asking, do habits of thinking really make much practical difference in a person’s life? After all, the actual “reality” of a person’s life is the same, no matter what’s going on in his or her head.
Over the weekend, the Big Man and I rented a good movie, The Upside of Anger, with Joan Allen and Kevin Costner. The movie presents an astonishingly persuasive example of the power of habits of mind. There’s a dramatic, surprise twist at the end (I do love a surprise twist) which turns SOLELY on the consequences of the main character’s way of thinking.
For those who haven’t discovered it, Steve Pavlina has the most popular personal development blog out there. Lots of great material in the archives, or you can check out the “best of” list in the left-hand column.