Think and Grow

I’ve (finally) begun reading Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. This was recommended to me about a year ago when I was thinking of starting my own virtual assistant business. It was written in 1937 and is one of the top selling books of all time, having sold 15 million copies. I was told that it had transformed a friend’s view of finances and money and had allowed her to pursue passions without money as the main aim, but in the end making far more than when she started. Obviously this sounds enticing!

I’m not sure about everything that I have found in the book so far. It’s incredibly interesting to read something that was written at the end of the great depression; the practical advice is often funny and stories not quite up to date, but the principles remain sound. Hill emphasizes having a burning desire that turns to obsession as the starting point to build on in the creation of wealth. Actually, he uses the word riches, which is perhaps a concept that I’m not quite comfortable with. I am not seeking riches; I am seeking wealth that goes beyond just money. I originally bought the book, yes, to have insight into personal finances and money. I am nearing 30 and don’t have retirement savings (or really much other savings of which to speak), live little more than paycheck to paycheck (this has gotten better since I bought the book, but it’s not like I could go more than a couple weeks without working) and just generally was looking for a new perspective on making, saving and investing money. I would like to pay off my credit card and loans quicker, be able to have some (or even one, lol) investments, and travel. 

Think and Grow Rich, however, is much more about wealth creating and the steps to take to achieve this. It’s definitely got me brainstorming and starting to think about future plans and possibilities. While this is all ruminating, however, I am really interested in how the basic principles of this book relate to and align with the mindset piece that yoga and Buddhism develop. Hill states:

“Man may become the master of himself, and of his environment, because he has the power to influence his own subconscious mind, and through it, gain the cooperation of Infinite Intelligence.”

In yoga we focus on quieting the mind and learning to be in control of one’s thoughts. Being able to ‘turn off’ negative thoughts and find inner peace is a skill that can be improved upon with practice. I think that this is very close to what Hill means by influencing our subconscious mind. He states that the conscious mind is the gateway to the subconscious mind and that the only thoughts that will make their way to the subconscious are the ones we let in – these can be positive or destructive and we have the power to control which it is. Have power over your mind, rather than giving your thoughts power over you. This is so hard, but so very important. Hill recommends doing this by repeating a written statement of your purpose at least twice daily. By doing this you eventually begin to believe and have faith in the truth of that statement, even if it hasn’t yet entirely come to fruition. You are influencing you subconscious to believe it and through this you will be able to manifest it. This is, functionally, your financial mantra (Hill’s statement is of your financial goals and plans to achieve them). Mantras always make me think of the relationship between smiling and happiness. If you force yourself to smile, eventually you will feel happy. You may be faking it at first, but eventually your body comes to believe it and you feel happy. I think that small thing is absolutely incredible! You can trick your mind into being happy just by forcing yourself to smile! To me, the smile is your mantra and if you repeat it enough eventually it will be true.

Hill’s statement also incorporates karma; the universe will reflect back that which you give. You manifest your future and dreams via the energy forces that will help to create it. I’m really working on implementing this in my life by always trying to be the best version of myself. I don’t always succeed, obviously. I have the Pitta quality of fire and can be grumpy and snippy (especially when hungry!), but I am trying to get better at manifesting positive energy.

My last observation from this book is Hill’s statement 

“Both success and failure are largely the result of habit!”

Pretty serendipitous considering my Foundations project! Perhaps I am on the right track, after all.

For today, Namaste.

Foundations

I’ve never really done the whole new year’s resolutions thing. It’s just never seemed very authentic or something I’m capable of keeping up with. I know lots of fellow yogis and friends who set intentions for a year or pick a theme for the year (my best friend, Katie‘s theme is Bravery!). This is something to meditate on, pursue and come back to periodically. I like this idea, but I didn’t really find anything that spoke to me when the year was turning. Yesterday something – an idea, concept, word – popped into my mind and I’ve decided to make it my 2014 theme/project.

FOUNDATIONS

Foundations. I know a lot of things that help me to be my best self, but I struggle with implementing them systematically and reliably. So – I’ve decided take the idea that it takes 21 days to form a habit into 2014 and give myself 11 (!!) strong foundations on which to stand, grow and build the rest of my life! That is one new habit – or foundation each month. I want this to be a transformational process for a transformational year. I know that it will be difficult many days, rewarding others and will hopefully also help myself discipline, or rather, help me to make these habits such a part of my life that they no longer (or rarely) require discipline to accomplish.

I have not figured out what I will choose for each month – I think that as a transformational process begins the actions that I feel called or drawn to will also change. I have a tentative schedule through June thought up, but I am completely willing that this is fluid. Here is what I have so far:

February: Eating well by focusing on planning and cooking, paired with a vegetarian fast

March: Daily HOME yoga practice

April: Daily meditation

May: Running (still working out how many times per week)

June: Be on time, EVERY TIME!

February will be focusing on planning meals, cooking at home and eating healthfully and mindfully. I think I will finally need to get a dining room table 🙂  I am going to couple this will a second challenge – a vegetarian fast. My main goal in this is to stop eating food at work late at night! I want to be able to bring and have waiting for me at home healthy food that is giving me energy and nourishing my body well. Planning will be a key element here, and this is the main piece I have struggled with since starting at the restaurant last year. My schedule is not fixed; I don’t know how early/late I will get home, how early I will be able to get up, etc. I find this a real challenge in planning my days generally, so planning will really be the main element I will be working on this month. I even have the next two days off to get started!

March will be creating the habit of a daily HOME yoga practice. I don’t really care if this is 3 sun salutations in the morning, a full hour modified primary series, or a headstand before bed, it just needs to be something. I think a big part of this will be setting the stage (again, planning!). My idea for now is to start out with morning sun salutes and to get myself in the head space by unrolling my mat at the foot of my bed before going to sleep so it’s there waiting and urging me on in the morning. I will probably play with this in February and see where I get with it, but I won’t focus on making it a daily practice until March.

April will be a daily meditation practice! I’m not very good at meditation! My mind wanders or I fall asleep. Focusing on breath helps, and I’m currently reading Peace is Every Step by Thicht Nhat Hanh, which has some excellent tips/exercises. My favorite so far is repeating these lines as breathing in and out:

“Breathing in I calm my body

Breathing out I smile”

These should be followed by “Dwelling in the present moment, I know this is a wonderful moment”, but I’m still working with the first two lines. I like to substitute “Breathing in I calm my body” with “Breathing in I am at peace” as well. So anyway, I’m a beginning meditater (is that a word?!) but I see benefits from even my small practice. I am hoping that my daily yoga practice will naturally lead into a meditation – that it will be the foundation. 

May will probably be running. This may change, but the weather should be reliably good enough by then to not be a barrier (I like to think I’m hardy, but I seriously am not running in temps lower than about 45F!). I don’t really know what type of running habit I’m going to aim for (times per week, miles per week, etc.) but I’d like to create some kind of running habit. I got into a good running groove last summer but stopped around September/October when I was working 60 hours per week. Standing on my feet for that long did NOT make me want to run! I also got shin splints, so that will have to be something that I will need to try and protect against. I will need to begin running before May if I am to run a lot with no injuries!

Last of my plan-in-advance months is June: being on time, every time! (That exclamation mark is necessary, I need to be amped about this or it won’t happen). Everyone who knows me knows I generally run 10-15 minutes late for EVERYTHING except job interviews and yoga. I need to change this; it’s disrespectful and childish, so in June I get to work on it!

The first half of the year is basically entirely focused on me and what I need to do, change or improve to be a more effective, compassionate, loving person. I am hoping that taking care of myself better and creating habits that will be a foundation for success will then help me to look outward. I’d like the second half of my year to focus on others. Some ideas I have are:

  • Call one family member per week
  • Read four times/week for at least 30 minutes
  • Send a handwritten card to one person each week
  • Write or journal daily
  • Compliment one person every day

I wrote those down earlier and now see that a couple are still me-focused… perhaps reading and journaling will come naturally with everything else and I won’t need to give them each their own month 🙂

This plan I realize is very ambitious, especially for me. I am learning a bit more about Ayruveda and very much have the Kapha qualities of being lethargic and unmotivated when I’m out of balance. Hopefully mindful eating will give me a strong foundation to stay in balance but we’re all prone to ebbs and flows and I will have to give extra vigilant when this happens.

For now, namaste.