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The Mind as an Empowering Agent

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Be the master of your mind rather than mastered by your mind.

- Zen Saying

As how we have introduced the book, man, if compared to superheroes like Superman and the X-men, is somehow similar to them in terms of possession of power. Yes, you’ve read that right. Man, like you and me, has a power. If these superheroes have supernatural powers that give them the ability to fly, to climb buildings and walls, to become invisible, to produce fire and ice, and to have special physical strength, we human beings, on the other hand, have the ability to mold our personality, to shape our future, and to create our own destiny. And all these are due to the power we possess – the power of the mind.

The power we humans possess can never be compared to any supernatural powers these superheroes use. After all, they are not real, ours is. Some agent in our body is responsible for giving us this power that makes us more hero than they do, an empowering agent, and this is our mind. It is our mind that gives us authority and superiority, confidence and self-esteem, and inspiration and guidance over ourselves and others. This is how the mind works. This is how the mind empowers.

What is empowerment, by the way? I used to believe that empowerment is simply giving power or authority to somebody that not anyone can possess until I’ve read this book entitled Empowerment Takes More than a Minute. It is about Marvin, a president and CEO of a midsize, once-successful company. I found the story to be really inspiring and motivating that I’d like to share it with you. It will give us a clearer insight on what empowerment really is and, like me, it might also change your view on it.

For some time now, Marvin had been thinking of his problems on the company he was working at, or for that matter, he was managing. What he failed to see was the company also has its problems on him – that he is turning out to be an ineffective leader. He had taken over leadership there for over a year already, or should I say, for over a year only, and yet his effectiveness as a leader is already not enough for the maintenance, if not progress, of the company. But, at least, in all fairness to him, he cared enough to reflect on the matters that might lead to the company’s failure. Again, only it was hard for him to accept the fact that change should start on him before the rest of the company changes.

This made him ponder for quite a while. And then he came up with a solution, one that would make them leaner and meaner, one that he ‘thought’ was helpful – empowerment. And since he believed that everyone needs to be empowered, he made them, not certain if it was at all for the best of the company. Well, for nine months, it seems that it was not even close to being good; especially that empowerment was merely a word to those supposed-to-be-empowered, and nothing more.

Desperate, he sought help from Sandy, the so-called “Empowering Manager.” At first he was hesitant because he found out that what he once thought as a “he” is really a “she.” It’s as if his self-esteem decreased since he was asking for a help from a lady. But eventually, he had accepted the truth that he really needed advice. The conversation went through and the most interesting part was how Sandy defined empowerment:

“Empowerment is not giving people power. They already have plenty of power – in the wealth of their knowledge and motivation – to do their jobs magnificently. We define empowerment as letting this power out.”

With such clear and motivating points of view, Sandy was able to change the attitude of Marvin towards managing his company and being able to compete once again. Well, actually, it was not only Marvin that was moved with Sandy’s discussion. There was also me.

Although the story was basically focused on managing and leadership, what we can relate to is what empowerment really is and how it works. But then again, mind power is really about managing ourselves until we can lead others, isn’t it? Therefore, restating what the Empowerment Manager said, all of us have already that power inside of us. What the mind does is empowering us by releasing that power and letting us use it in appropriate measures.

It was also discussed earlier in the book that the mind generates two kinds of thoughts: positive and negative thoughts. If our mind is full of positive ideas on dealing with everyday life, our way of thinking also becomes positive. Likewise, if we let negative ideas to rule our lives, then we may suffer from negative thinking. Both of these kinds of thinking have power over us. It’s now up to us which thinking we choose to empower us, since both may shape our future and create our destiny; only, bringing different results. Now, which do you prefer?

And, oh, before that, how do you see your glass of water, half-full or half-empty? Go on and find out what your answer means.

Power of Positive Thinking (The Glass is Half-Full)

Although you can see that the glass is half-empty, you chose to see it in a positive way. It is still half-full, anyway. The absence of half of the volume of water didn’t even bother you. What mattered was that it still contains water. If this is how you answered the question above and how you justified your answer, then you have a positive way of thinking.

Positive thinking is a way of looking at the brighter side of life. Everything is good, beautiful, and light. There are no worries, problems, or fears. In short, all you see and believe in is, well, positive. I guess that’s already the most suitable word in describing this way of thinking, which is why it is the term being used.

This kind of thinking is very powerful in that if you think that you are going to pass an exam, you are going to pass; if you think that you’ll get noticed by your crush, you’ll get noticed; if you think you will get promoted at work, then you’ll get promoted. This is how powerful the mind is, particularly positive mind. Even the famous Clint Eastwood believes in this general truth that he quoted, “If you think it’s going to rain, it will.”

So, how does the power of positive thinking works? How can it create reality? Do we only have to think of positive things and then will it happen right away? That positive thinking really is powerful may be somehow hard to believe at first, that’s why we may ask certain questions like those above. Because the mind is working on the information you send it, positive thinking leads to positive reality. This is how it works. Yes, we do have to really think of positive things. But it doesn’t stop there. Remember the ever-famous cliché “Do your best and God will do the rest”? You know, it’s true. Aside from believing in and having faith in something we want to happen, we have to do something about it. You can’t ace an exam just by sitting on the couch and watching TV days before taking it, can you?

Let us take into account again the computer as a metaphor of the human mind. The mind is like a computer, this time due to the fact that we can program it with certain functions and tasks. Sometimes, it even acts as our autopilot. For instance, we use it when we drive and talk on a mobile phone at the same time. Therefore, we can program it with whatever we want to happen. Say, for example, you want to be attractive. Thus, you say to yourself “I can be beautiful, healthy and slim.” But for this positive thinking to work, you can’t just leave it at that. You still need to do something. You need the right self-programming: “I can be beautiful, healthy, and slim if… (a) I’ll take enough rest every night; (b) I’ll eat proper balance diet; (c) I’ll do exercises; (d) I’ll brush my teeth every after meal; etc.” And if all these thoughts sink into your system, you’ll see that they wouldn’t be far from happening. Mind power implies will power. With positive thinking, one does not stop with I can or I am. There will always be an I will after it in which it will cause the realization of his aspirations.

Positive thinking is a powerful tool that helps us build the life we want. It can make us beautiful and smart. It can get us the dream job with the excellent salary we always dreamed of. It can help us find our one true love. But we have to use them properly and we have to continue working with them regularly - to the point where it becomes such a habit that we ought to say them all the time. Isn’t it better maintaining such thoughts than keeping worthless ideas inside our head – the stuff we keep thinking about but doesn't really help us accomplish anything and, in many cases, may actually push us backwards?

We should also understand that some affirmations take some time to take effect. It really depends on where we are and what we want to accomplish. For example, if you're unemployed yet want to be a millionaire, well, in reality, it will take quite some time. You have to get a job first, and from there, start making the big money and earn the millions you want. Successes usually not happen overnight. So the first step is to focus on how we can accomplish our goal. If we are on the right place, plus we possess the right attitude, then it won’t be too far.

Power of Negative Thinking (The Glass is Half-Empty)

Some of the water spilled. Someone drank on my glass of water. Or there isn’t enough water on the pitcher to fill the glass. Whichever reason, still my glass is half-empty! It may not be enough for me. It may not quench my thirst fully. And darn that person who drank some of my water!

Geez… Is this how you react to a glass of water which is half-filled, or in this case, half-emptied? If you are, your mind is full of negative thoughts. You even cursed a person who drank some of the water in your glass which you are not even sure of. You are filled with opinions that something bad has happened to the water. What’s worse is, they are not even proven to be true and yet you believe them.

Negative thinking, the exact opposite of positive one, is a way of looking at, not necessarily the bad, but definitely not the good things in life. Everything that has happened is due to some undesirable cause. Or if something is not yet happening, you think of something bad that might take place. Your mind is full of worries, fears, discomforts, and you keep asking questions with what if’s.

This kind of thinking is also powerful. It is generated by the mind isn’t it? And the mind is empowering, right? Therefore, negative thinking has its own power. Yes, the same power as positive thinking – power to mold our personality, power to shape our future, and power to create our destiny. The only difference is the outcome it will bring about. So, if positive thinking brings positive reality, does negative thinking bring about negative reality? Do you think so? Well, let’s see.

Negative thoughts, as how we have described in an earlier chapter, are due to mistakes, unpleasant incidents, embarrassing moments, and wrong decisions that have been experienced by the individual. Similar to plant seeds, these unlikable ideas were buried deep in his minds. As they grow and flourish, they remain hindrances in his ability to be someone and to do something. This is where his fears start to develop, slowly take over his strengths – physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual – and eventually, remove his self-confidence and trust in himself. Then, from here, it wouldn’t be far until he starts saying the words that would destroy his dreams, I can’t, and worse, acting the unwillingness it implies, I won’t.

Usually, we prefer to stay in a place where everything is safe and secure and where dangers are low and minimal. For instance, one may avoid joining competitions because he knows he can’t win. Or instead of courting a gorgeous girl, one settles to be with someone not so pretty because he knows he can’t win over the prettier girl. But this is also where we realize the vastness of our limitations. Because of this, we can conclude that we have already lost even before we begin, and we already failed even before we tried. What we don’t usually know is that the greatest failure in life is not losing, but not trying at all. After all, who knows? No one can really say what could happen in the competition or with that gorgeous girl until he tried, right?

This is the power of negative thinking. It makes one unattractive because he believes that he can’t be good-looking. It gives one an awful future because he believes that he can’t find a job and earn enough money. It lets one stay single and alone because he believes that he can’t win friends or find true love. And because he can’t, he won’t. Remember? Mind power implies will power. And since the mind power is negative, the will power is reluctant.

Funny how ignorance sometimes can be blessings in disguise because it becomes a way for someone to keep on trying. There are instances where people say, “I really don’t understand the question. So, I just guessed my answers,” or “I know I’m not good at speeches so I wrote what I have to say and will just read it in front.” Because of simple and little ways of attempts, we can say that these people are more superior and will likely to succeed farther than those who don’t try at all.

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