Why Changing Your Beliefs Can Help You Achieve Your Dreams
The ancestor of every action is a thought. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Look around right now. No, really. Do it.
Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, stop reading and notice every item within your eyeshot. Become aware of what’s in your hands (including this book), the devices you have near you, what you’re wearing (if anything—hello!), what you’re sitting in or standing on, and any and all objects or structures that surround you.
Here’s what I see: My fingerprint-smudged laptop screen. A coffee mug. A wall of wooden kitchen cabinets covered in chicken wire and filled with glasses, vases, and books. A spiral-bound notebook. A few bottles of wine. That’s just the obvious stuff.
There’s a good chance we’re both sitting amid a few modern miracles like electricity, indoor plumbing, and Wi-Fi. Do you realize that virtually everything that surrounds us was once only a thought? An idea? A wild, formless figment of someone’s imagination?
Every movie you’ve ever seen. Every story you’ve ever heard. Every book you’ve read. Every song that’s made you sing, dance, or cry has taken the mystical journey from the world of unmanifest to the manifest. From formless idea to concrete reality. These minds of ours are magical creation machines. They’re the birthplace of every extraordinary experience we’ve ever encountered and every major breakthrough in human history. Our minds are what give us the power to manufacture reality, both for ourselves and others. That’s because . . . Everything in the material world is first created on the level of thought.
At six years old, I was walking in downtown New York City with my parents. Suddenly, a zinger of a thought popped into my young mind: I’m going to live here one day.
This idea was so unquestionable and exciting, I couldn’t help but say it out loud. I stopped in the middle of the sidewalk near Bleecker and Perry Streets, held my hands in the air, and shouted, “I’m going to live here when I grow up!”
Puzzled, my mom said, “W H A T are you talking about?! We live in New Jersey. That’s where you go to school. That’s where your friends are. That’s where me and Daddy are and that’s where you belong.”
“No, Mom. I belong here. When I grow up, I’m going to live here and work here and have my very own apartment right here. You’ll see!”
Took me seventeen years, but eventually I made that idea my reality. In fact, the West Village is the only neighborhood I’ve called home in the nearly twenty years I’ve lived in New York. Never more than a few short blocks from that original six-year-old’s declaration.
I bet you’ve got an idea-to-reality story, too. A time where you had a mere thought about something you wanted to see, do, create, experience, or become—and you eventually did it.
Maybe it was a thought about your education, playing a sport or musical instrument, or having a particular career. Maybe it was an idea about something you wanted to make or develop. Maybe it was about traveling to a specific place, learning a skill, having a certain relationship, or starting a business. Maybe it was about healing an addiction or getting out of debt.
At first, that idea may have seemed like a long shot. You might have had no clue how to make it happen, or if it was even possible for you. But somehow you turned that idea into reality. That’s a breathtaking power, isn’t it? Sadly, it’s one many of us take for granted, which is why it’s so important that we remind ourselves… Nothing exists in our world that does not first exist in our mind.
That’s the universal gift we’ve been given to help us shape our lives and, collectively, the world around us. We’re born creators with an innate power to bring our ideas and visions into reality. Though admittedly simplified, the process of creation goes something like this:
Thought —> Feeling —> Behavior —> Result
While this might seem painfully obvious, this formula is one we can easily forget—especially as it relates to things we want to figure out.
Beneath our thoughts, however, lies an even deeper force that directs and controls our lives. It’s a critical component of the creative process, both individually and collectively. In fact, this force shapes our thoughts and feelings. It dictates every aspect of our behavior: how much we sleep, what we choose to eat, what we say to ourselves and others, if and how much we exercise, and what do with our time and energy. It helps birth our self-worth and our net worth. It impacts our health and fuels our feelings. It determines the quality of our relationships and, ultimately, whether we lead a life of joy, accomplishment, and contribution or one of misery, pain, and regret.
It’s a force that underpins every action we take and how we interpret and respond to the world around us. This deeper, commanding force is our beliefs. Beliefs are the hidden scripts that run our lives.
Like a track running underneath a train, our beliefs determine where we go and how we get there. But before we start talking about concepts without clearly defining them, let’s use this shared definition: A belief is something you know with total and absolute certainty. It’s a thought that you’ve decided—consciously or unconsciously—is The Truth. Our beliefs are the root of our reality and our results.
Therefore, our creation formula looks more like this:
Belief —> Thought —> Feeling —> Behavior —> Result
In order to solve any problem or achieve any dream, we must first make a change at the level of belief. Because when you change a belief, you change everything.
Excerpted from Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo with permission of Portfolio, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © Marie Forleo, 2019.