Know Yourself; Find Your Mission
How important is it to know yourself? I bet it’s very important. If you think about it, it’s more important than almost any other knowledge. It can help you answer the main question of life: why you live.
Favorite words can help. The key here is to know what your likes and interests are and what you are good at doing. God made us different and with different talents and abilities for a reason, and that reason isn’t just diversification. I think the main reason is finding yourself; who you really are. You can know that by looking at your words from those perspectives. When you think about your favorite words and why you’ve chosen those, you tend to better understand who you are and what you should do with your life.
Try this exercise:
Look at your words. Which ones describe you accurately? Which ones relate to your interests? Which words make you want to do something? These words are the signs of your life’s mission. You can find a path to yourself and discover your own vision through your favorite words. Think about it from time to time and study yourself to become a better you.
With this exercise and method overall, you should be able to define yourself. Defining or formulating is important in general. Here is a great story that illustrates the power of words when it comes to formulation:
Once, a businessman wanted to sell his vacation house to use the money for expanding his business, but nobody wanted to buy the property for quite some time, so he asked his friend, a writer, to rewrite the ad so it would sell the house. The writer visited the place and wrote about it:
A beautiful cozy house is for sale. It’s a small countryside place full of great energy located among crystal-clear water springs. At dawn, you can enjoy a sweet warble of a nightingale singing from old shaggy trees, which give a calm breezy shadow at the noon heat. A petite prim garden fills the air with delicate aroma from its gorgeous flowers and mellow fruits and berries. Built with unique design by a famous architect, this well-appointed house has surprisingly ample rooms. This is one of those rare places that you don’t want to leave. It is capable of giving endless joy and happiness to its owners. Come see it—you may fall in love.
A few months later, the writer met with the businessman and asked if the vacation house eventually sold. The businessman responded that, after reading that description of his house, he realized what a great house he owned and never wanted to sell again.
Sometimes, we don’t realize what we own, what we have in life. We take a lot of things for granted. We take our life for granted even though it’s the most amazing gift we were ever given. Let’s appreciate all what we possess, from colossal things like life, love, parents, children, spouse, friends, home, country, earth, health, joy, and God, to other great things like pets, time, smiles, talent, food, work, and nature. You name it. What do you appreciate the most in your life? Selecting favorite words that describe you and your values helps you better formulate who you are in many different perspectives.
Stephen R. Covey in his foreword for the book Aspire: Discovering Your Purpose through the Power of Words by Kevin Hall (January 5th 2010 by William Morrow) writes that “words have an inherent power, a force capable of lighting one’s paths and horizons. Used correctly and positively, words are the first building blocks for success and inner peace. Used incorrectly and negatively, they are capable of undermining even the best of intentions. This is true in business, in personal relationships, and every other walk of life.”
Now, let me tell you something interesting about your brain. It has this cool feature: it always aims at building connections between different pieces of data it receives. There is no information that is separately stored in your mind. It’s all connected. Have you experienced some weird coincidences in your life when you think of something and then see it? Or when you wear something and find people wearing identical or very similar clothes to yours? When you thought of someone, and then this person calls or emails you in the next five minutes? Or when you read about something and start facing that same thing all next week?
We all experienced those strange unexplained coincidences. But if you think about it, it’s not that strange. It’s about our brains building connections. We get notified when that connection is built. That’s how we name things when we meet them. When you took this thing you are holding right now, you knew it was a tablet or phone (or laptop or computer mouse) your brain told you what connection it found for that “thing.” So, we focus on what’s connected.
In every example mentioned above, there could be a lot of events you didn’t pay attention to until this recent connection was built and shown. You get a lot of calls or emails daily, but if you haven’t thought about those people right before they contacted you, you wouldn’t be surprised, but if you did, you’d immediately notice. Your brain had notified you about building the connection. Same for the clothes: you start paying attention to that particular model and those colors and when you finally meet the similarity, you are surprised. If you hadn’t been wearing those clothes, you wouldn’t notice others wearing them. You get the point.
Use this knowledge for your advantage. Try to concentrate on what’s important to you through your favorite words, pay attention to them and you’ll start noticing nice things that you haven’t before. Great things will start happening in your life. They were likely happening before, but you haven’t noticed. Now, you should, and favorite words will help you with that. Try it.
Richard Bandler, co-developer of NLP (Neuro-linguistic programming), suggests that our brain is like an automatic bus. You can sit somewhere in the back and be surprised where it brings you or you can get onto the driver’s seat and decide where to go next and how to get there. You can manage your brain. You do it with your language, your words.
Visualization and Mental Training
The best athletes around the world are trained both physically and mentally, and the mental training is just as important. Experiments show that active and focused imagination of certain moves gives almost as strong a result as physical repetition of those moves.
I decided to do a similar experiment on myself. I try to play table tennis regularly. Because I play at the same places, I know the skills of most people I play with, and they know my skills. Things rarely change; there are people who consistently beat me and there are those who just as consistently lose. Once, I took a pretty long break, not playing for about a month, because I had to concentrate more on my online projects. I thought it would be a good chance for the mental training experiment. So, I started to visualize two things: one forehand blocking move and one serve. I was visualizing them over and over again, every day.
Normally, after a month-long break, I would have played worse for the first few days at least, but because of my mental exercises I started playing better; in fact, I beat a few people I hadn’t before. I repeatedly won, so it wasn’t an accident. I won thanks to that serve and that forehand block move, which I visualized. A number of people noticed both changes and told me about it. This is how I personally realized the power of mental training.
I also read about a similar experiment with basketball players who were divided into three groups more or less equal by their overall skills. The first group practiced free throws daily, the second group only imagined practicing free throws, and the third group did nothing. After one month, the first group improved, the second (mentally trained) group also improved by a small percentage less than the first one, and the third group had worse results than before. It had proven the strength of mental training: visualization is indeed powerful. So, when you have no chance to train physically, simply train mentally, or do both.
Another interesting experiment shows how easy it is to change human behavior through mental influence. People were asked to look at the following 10 groups of words and make four-word grammatical sentences out of them:
1. him was worried she always
2. from are Florida oranges temperature
3. ball the throw toss silently
4. shoes give replace old themselves
5. he observes occasionally people watches
6. be will sweat lonely they
7. sky the seamless gray is
8. should now withdraw forgetful we
9. us bingo sing play let
10. sunlight makes temperature wrinkle raisin
However, rather than being designed to test the subjects’ intelligence, this test was actually devised to change their behavior. Amazingly, having carried out this test, subjects proceeded to walk out of the office and back down the hall far more slowly than they had entered.
Why? Because hidden among the other words were the words “worried,” “Florida,” “old,” “lonely,” “gray,” “bingo,” and “wrinkle,” all of which made the subjects not only think of being old, but actually act older. There experiments by social psychologist John Bargh, PhD, showed how sentence building from different words causes behavioral changes.
Now let me ask you a simple question: how old are you? Before you answer, think about it. You can visualize your age. You can actually be of any age you want. Someone put it very well when talking about age: “It is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” So, it’s not really about how old you are but how old you feel you are, or how young. You decide.
It’s called Stereotype Priming: an implicit memory effect in which exposure to a stimulus influences a response to a later stimulus. For example, if a person reads a list of words including the word table and is later asked to complete a word starting with tab, the probability that he or she will answer table is greater than if they are not primed.
So, how can you benefit from Bargh’s experiment and stereotype priming? You can prime your own mind. When you surround yourself with positive words, the words of power, your favorite words, your behavior will change, you will improve. You can write those words on post-it notes around your home or desk, illustrate them as artworks or add to your screensavers or desktop, tablet, and phone backgrounds. Try it and enjoy it.
I would also highly recommend that you pay better attention to what books and articles you read, what movies and television programs you watch, and what people you talk to or correspond with. All that can affect your mood and behavior as well, so when you choose what and who you interact with on a daily basis, you increase your chances of a better and a happier life.
Other people can influence you even without direct interaction. Have you felt someone staring at you without seeing them? A lot of people can feel that. Scientists discovered that people sitting in one room reacted to what people sitting in another room were thinking of them. The room was 25 meters away, which is around 82 feet. Medical equipment had recorded the changes in the skin’s electric reaction depending on other people’s various thoughts. The series of such experiments had proven the influence of people’s energy on other people from distance. So, when you surround yourself with the right people – successful people, people who care about you, or simply nice people – you will benefit a lot.
What you are saying to yourself in your head is important, too. Be less negative, encourage yourself, use the right words, and you may be surprised by how quickly positive changes in yourself will occur.
Even one word can make a difference. Let’s compare these words for instance: problem and challenge. When you call it a problem it would be harder to solve as you put some negative stamp on it and simply don’t want to solve it that much, but if you call it a challenge, you might want to accept it and you can imagine the outcome once you solve it. Definition is everything.
Words influence people and this influence can be both positive and negative. When it comes to you, there is a choice, really. You can focus on positive words (your favorite words), or on negative words, or both. I’d suggest you to forget about the last two options; nothing good will come out from those focuses. Even though it is an obvious choice (we want to be happy, we want to enjoy fun), there are still a lot of people who prefer to stay negative and focus on that. Google this: “what are your least favorite words?” and you’ll see thousands of results there. And people answer that question all the time. We do have likes and dislikes but it’s our choice what we give our attention.
There is a nice Cherokee legend that explains it well:
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil—he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good—he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
Which wolf do you feed?
Change the way you think and you’ll change your life. Easier said than done, right? Well, it’s all about your words. There is a powerful connection between the words we use and the results we get. What you say programs what will happen to you. Your words create your reality: the life you want or don’t want to live.
A language consists of words. With love of certain words starts the love of language. The love of language is tied to the love of culture. The love of culture means the love of your family, your homeland, and your planet. It’s all very much connected and it all starts with the love of certain favorite words. This is why your favorite words tell about you no less than some personality test.
Any experience a human connects to a certain word is recorded in the brain and has its own perception. The same word can provoke negative, positive, or neutral memories and feelings from various people. But these feelings can be changed with new experience. For example, if a guy loved a girl named Ashley, the word Ashley would bring only positive emotions and feelings for this guy. But if she cheated, then broke up with him to marry his enemy, her name wouldn’t be as pleasant anymore. The new experience changed the association with the same word. But then the guy met another girl also named Ashley and fell in love. The word Ashley will be back to his list of favorite words. You can take words that you have neutral or even negative associations with and manually transform them into positive words by associating them with something you love, thus getting rid of negative thoughts and memories.
Your reality is what you believe in. There is no objective reality. It’s all subjective. But the cumulative agreement of the subjective visions makes up the reality for us all. In the world of one-eyed people, a person with two eyes would look weird, and most people would consider this person to be disabled or even ugly. You might argue this statement by saying that two eyes are better, a person sees more and better. It’s not really important, because in the world of two-eyed people, the one with three eyes would still be an outsider, even though, by the same logic, this person would possibly have a better situation. The majority dictates the reality: what’s normal is good.
So, your “vote” for what’s true and right, your subjective reality, matters. And it especially matters for you. Once you understand that you can improve your life simply by thinking of it better, your life will change, and you won’t wish to go back to where you were before.
One lady wasn’t really attractive, to put it gently, and everyone around understood it. Everyone, except her. She always kept saying to people that she was really beautiful and that she always saw people giving looks at her everywhere. Others were sorry about her misunderstanding, but of course nobody wanted to tell her what they really thought. Meanwhile, she managed to marry a young successful man a lot of girls dreamt about having, and she even kept him jealous all the time because of other men paying attention to her. People started believing in her reality; she was beautiful to them, too. This teaches us a simple lesson: believe in what you want and others will believe it, too. Objective reality is possible to be changed… by you!
In his famous work How to Stop Worrying and Start Living (Publisher: Pocket Books, 1990, first printed in Great Britain in 1948), Dale Carnegie writes that “Our thoughts make us what we are. Our mental attitude is the X factor that determines our fate. Emerson said: ‘A man is what he thinks about all day long.’ […] How could he possibly be anything else? […] The great philosopher who ruled the Roman Empire, Marcus Aurelius, summed it up in eight words—eight words that can determine your destiny: ‘Our life is what our thoughts make it.’ Yes, if we think happy thoughts, we will be happy. If we think miserable thoughts, we will be miserable. If half a century of living has taught me anything at all, it has taught me that ‘Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.’”
On another continent and at another time, Montaigne, the great French philosopher, once wrote, ‘A man is not hurt so much by what happens, as by his opinion of what happens.’
It’s all about what we think of it, really.
So, use favorite words to form your reality and rediscover your true you. Knowing your favorite words helps with understanding your preferences, likes, and interests. The better you know yourself, the easier it is to self-develop and improve.
Tell me what your favorite words are and I’ll tell you who you are!