We’ve all been told a lie: that there’s a game we must play in life with rules that we must follow to make other people happy. If we play this game, we will win and get what we want in life. Most of us hold ourselves back from our dreams by believing this lie and playing this game. One of my favorite populations to work with is youth—teenagers. Most people think I’m crazy, but I find them inspiring. Young people are at a cusp between childhood and adulthood—control and freedom. It is at this pivotal moment that carefully placed words can empower youth to live a life of greatness. So with this in mind, I’m sharing a piece of a presentation I do with youth, in which I teach them the REAL game of life—the one that gives them the power to create their dreams.
It’s also a great reminder for us adults who may be limiting our dreams. Are YOU ready to play the NEW game?
THE OLD GAME:
Step 1: Decide what you want. (But, limit it.)
Step 2: Choose a strategy to get it.
- Strategy 1: Learn the game, follow the rules, live in the box.
- Strategy 2: Get good at making others happy, brown nose.
- Strategy 3: Learn how to manipulate others and control situations.
Step 3: Receive what you want (maybe), and hope it makes you happy.
Step 4: If none of the above strategies work:
- Option 1: Give up. You can’t win. What you want isn’t possible. Feel hopeless. Get depressed.
- Option 2: Rebel. Quit the game. Feel angry. Cause yourself and others pain.
DEEP DOWN YOU KNOW THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH THIS GAME.
So, why do we so often give up or rebel?
We don’t think we can have what we want—we have LIMITING BELIEFS.
What is a belief? A belief is just a thought you keep thinking…And why keep thinking it? Because you’re CERTAIN it’s true…you have references—evidence—to back it up.
Think about a belief like a table and the legs are the evidence that hold it up.
So, how do you change a belief? Find evidence it’s not true—knock the legs out…and then find a NEW belief that you WANT, and find the evidence to build it back up. (Click here for a process for changing limiting beliefs.)
Here are some common LIMITING BELIEFS.
They usually sound like this, “I want this BUT I can’t have it because…”
- My parents won’t let me…
- I’ll disappoint someone…
- No one will like me…
- It’s never been done before…
- That career doesn’t pay enough…
So, are you ready to learn a NEW GAME—one in which you cannot lose, you don’t have to please or manipulate anyone, and there are no limits?
Let’s start with this: Everything is thought. Everything.
Think about your iPhone or smart phone. It doesn’t look like a thought, but think about this…Before you held it in your hand, you had to have the thought to buy it, and for it to be at the store someone had to have the idea to stock it and sell it. Before that someone had to have the idea to make it, and before that someone had to have the idea to invent it.
So it would appear that Steve Jobs and his peeps at Apple thought the iPhone into existence, but it doesn’t start there…Before that someone had to have the idea for a touchscreen and someone else had to have the idea for apps. Before that someone had to have the idea for a cell phone; and before that someone had to have the idea of a phone; and before that someone had to have the idea of wanting to communicate over a distance. Before that someone had to have the idea to communicate in words, and before that someone had to have the idea to communicate at all. Before that someone had to have an idea. And before that someone had to exist, which means someone had to have a thought about…oh wait, never mind, let’s not go there.
For now, let’s just agree on one thing: thoughts turn into things. Simple enough, right?
Here’s how it works in your brain.
You see, you have a part of your brain called the RAS (reticular activating system)—and it’s responsible for keeping you from going nuts. There are millions of bits of information around you all the time. If you were aware of all of it you’d go crazy, so your RAS tunes in to only 250 bits of information at a time. So, how does it decide what bits to pick?
Your thoughts. Yup. Your FOCUS.
If you wake up with a huge zit and you walk down the hallway thinking everyone is going to laugh at the glowing orb on your face, you’ll notice people looking at and talking about your zit. Yet, if you were walking down that same hallway at that same time and were thinking about how hot you look in your new jeans, you’ll notice people looking at you with a raised eyebrow. Same people in the hall. Same expressions. You only NOTICE and INTERPRET different looks from others because your RAS is looking for something different.
So, I lied—thoughts are not solely responsible for creating stuff. There are three other steps in this new game: emotions, decisions, and action… but they all start with thoughts.
Here’s how it works:
Thoughts > Emotions > Decisions > Actions > Stuff
Thoughts are what create emotions; how you feel determines your decisions; your decisions are what determine your actions; and when you act you cause things to happen (stuff).
What’s the deal with emotions?
COMMON BELIEF: You should always trust your emotions.
COMMON BELIEF: Feelings are irrational and can’t be trusted.
So which is it? They’re BOTH wrong.
Emotions and feelings are neither right nor wrong, accurate or not. Emotions are simply your body’s reaction to what you are THINKING, whether you’re thinking on purpose or not.
Here’s an example: You think you’re unhappy because you don’t have what you want, but it’s not the lack of having it—it’s the THOUGHT of not having it. If you didn’t have it and didn’t care, would you be upset? If you didn’t have it but were going down a roller coaster, would you be upset? No, you’d be shrieking. Why? Because you’re not thinking about it.
Think of thoughts and emotions like radio waves.
If you tune the radio into 98.5, is it possible to get what’s being broadcast on 105.7? No, why? Because they are broadcasting on a different wavelength—frequency—VIBE. Ok, so if what you want is on 105.7—what makes you feel happy, excited—do you think you can get to that station if you keep the dial at 98.5 where you feel angry, frustrated, and depressed? No you can’t. Wrong vibe.
Ok, let me say it another way: if you keep feeling angry, frustrated, and depressed—keeping your vibe at 98.5—you will continue to tune in to what is being broadcast there—songs and experiences that make you feel angry, frustrated, and depressed.
This is how life works. Here’s an example: Your alarm doesn’t go off ’cuz you forgot to plug in your phone and you wake up to the glorious sound of your mom’s shrill voice yelling at you from the hall…then you jump out of bed, pissed at the world that you can’t sleep in, and step on the video game controller on your floor and then drop your iPhone in the toilet and end up late to school because you spent 30 minutes blowing it dry.
What’s your vibe? “Nothing’s going right for me today… life sucks…”
…And when you get to class, late, you’re punished by your teacher, who makes you give your presentation FIRST—which, of course, you had forgotten all about. Great, just great. And so you have to totally pull it out of your butt—and as if that doesn’t make you nervous enough, the principle decides to come observe the classroom right in the middle of your improvised presentation. Your entire day ends up being one giant, epic failure and, when you finally get home, you can’t even look at your parents in the eye—you might explode—and so you go to your room, find a song that fills you with rage and contemplate giving up…or maybe rebelling…thinking, “This is a stupid game, and I can never freaking win…so what’s the point?”
You just got stuck on a bad vibe. It’s okay, you can get off it. Here’s how:
Imagine that life is like an interactive video game.
There are different levels. You may be playing at level three, but someone else is playing at level four. You may be playing at the same time, but you’re experiencing different levels. You cannot see this person because he’s at a different level than you. Once you move up a level, you are on the same level as this person and can see them. You get that, don’t you?
Ok, so you’re in level three where you feel angry. You want to be at level six where you’ll feel hopeful. So how do you get to where you want? Jump up the levels. And how do you do that?
Imagine these levels are like the radio stations—each level has its own vibe. You just need to FEEL the vibe that matches the level where what you want is. But there’s a catch: you usually can’t skip from level one to 10. You have to climb the emotional ladder.
The Emotional Ladder:
(1) Depression, (2) Rage, (3) Anger, (4) Blame, (5) Frustration, (6) Hope, (7) Contentment, (8) Happiness, (9) Blissed-Out, (10) Epic
You can’t go from anger to blissed-out in one jump, but blame does feel better than anger, doesn’t it? From there you can easily find a thought that takes you from blame to just plain frustration, and once there it’s easy to think of a thought of hope.
Here are three strategies for leveling up your game:
- Find a different thought about what you DON’T want…like find something you like about the unwanted thing that makes you feel better about it.
- Think about something that has nothing to do with it—a happy place, like baby bunnies—anything that makes you feel good.
- Ask yourself what you DO want instead… and then stay focused on what you DO WANT and how great it will feel.
Just find a way to feel better and stop focusing on everything that went wrong. You’ll be able to think more clearly and make better decisions. You’ll remember that what you want is on a different level and that you have to FEEL your way there. It may sound hard, but it gets easier with practice and the following tips.
Ever heard that voice in your head?
Everyone has one. If you can listen to your thoughts, who are YOU—the thoughts or the listener? You’re the listener, and your listener can think too—that’s why you can have a conversation with yourself. HERE’S THE KEY: Either the thoughts—the “other” voice—controls you or you control it. Most people are controlled by it because they have no idea they are NOT it. Well, now you know.
Learning to control the voice in your head is the No. 1 most important thing you will do in your whole life.
Why? Because controlling your MIND is the key to controlling your EMOTIONS, which is the key to choosing ACTIONS that will get you what you want.
How do I control my thoughts?
First, let’s give your thoughts a name. Let’s go with “BOB.” Here’s how to take control back from your BOB:
IGNORE BOB: Don’t take BOB seriously. When BOB starts rambling about stuff that’s whack, imagine BOB has a funny voice or is wearing a clown suit. BOB is not you, and it doesn’t know what it’s talking about.
PROTECT BOB: BOB’s easily influenced, so always ask yourself if YOU really believe what it’s saying. Pay special attention for any thoughts coming from BOB that sound eerily similar to things your parents or teachers or friends or favorite TV characters say. You MUST get other people out of your head. You don’t want to keep vibes that aren’t yours by allowing your BOB to blindly adopt other people’s beliefs. Choose what you expose your BOB to. Stay away from doubters and haters and negative people. Think twice about what TV and video games you PROGRAM YOUR BOB with.
OBSERVE BOB: As often as you can, remind yourself to watch your BOB. Notice what it’s thinking about. If you don’t like what it’s thinking about CHOOSE A NEW THOUGHT. This is especially important if BOB is thinking about what you DON’T want.
It takes time to get good at controlling your BOB. You’ll notice times when BOB runs off on a tangent of terrible thoughts without you noticing—sneaky BOB! Then you’ll eventually notice and remember you have a choice of what you think! You just WHACK BOB on the head—it’s like playing Whack-a-Mole. Whack him, stop the negative thought, and pick a better FEELING thought.
And as you observe BOB more you’ll get better at catching it in the act earlier—before BOB creates an emotion within you that creates a whole day of epic failures. Bad BOB!
So, let’s review the old game:
Step 1: Decide what you want, but limit it.
Step 2: Choose a strategy to get it.
- Strategy 1: Follow the rules.
- Strategy 2: Brown nose.
- Strategy 3: Manipulate.
Step 3: Receive what you want (maybe), in hopes it makes you happy (not likely)
Step 4: If it doesn’t work:
- Option 1: Give up.
- Option 2: Rebel.
Now, let’s compare that to the NEW game:
Step 1: Decide what YOU want (not what others want for you).
Step 2: Master your MIND (choose your thoughts, whack BOB) and your EMOTIONS (tune your vibe).
Step 3: Decide to follow your dreams, no matter what.
- Make good decisions.
- Commit to action, take the first step.
Step 4: ENJOY the journey.
So, you’re choosing your thoughts, controlling your emotions, and feeling good. Now you will know what DECISIONS you need to make to continue on your path to your dream.
What decision are you making today that will move you in the direction of your dream?
Not sure what your dream is? That’s okay.
Not sure HOW you’ll get there? That’s okay too.
Even if you don’t get there or if your dream changes, it doesn’t matter because it’s about the journey—it’s about whom you become along the way.
Master your vibe.
Enjoy the journey.
Play the game!