I was walking out of work the other day, and I was thinking about my thinking. I know, that sounds weird, but let me explain. The awareness and understanding of one’s own thought processes is called metacognition. It’s more than just thinking about something, but rather understanding why we think the things we do. Our thinking is what determines our state of mind, our mental health, our feelings and emotions, etc. Unless we stop and think about our thinking, we will always wonder, “Will life ever get better?”
Our thoughts have the power to either get us through the hardest times in our life, or dig us into a pit of depression and despair. To become a Navy Seal, you must go through BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolitions Seal) Training. Those who have gone through the course and graduated will tell you that it doesn’t matter how physically fit or strong you are, the only thing that will get you through the course is your mindset. BUDS instructors put recruits through rigorous, painstaking intervals that are meant to push recruits to quit. In fact, instructors bring out a bell at every interval and encourage recruits to ring the bell and quit.
The only way recruits survive the torturous intervals is by staying focused and having a winning mindset. When they allow themselves to be beaten by their thinking, they quit. Mark Owen, a former member of the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Development Group, commonly known as SEAL Team Six, said this about his time in BUDS:
“It’s six months long, it’s big, it’s overwhelming, but I broke everything down into one bite at a time. Because if you focused on, ‘Hey, look, how am I going to get through six months?, that would be much too overwhelming for me. So I broke everything down into one meal, one bite. So if I could make it to breakfast, awesome. If I could make it to lunch, even better. Dinner? OK, cool. Let’s see if I can do it again the next day. And I did that throughout my entire career.”
It was the mindset of one step after the other that got Mark through one of the toughest, most rigorous training of his life. When we focus on things outside of our control, life tends to become daunting; it becomes more than we can handle. This leads us to question if life will ever get better. All of that depends on us and our mindset.
However, our mindset is influenced by everything around us. This is why it is critical that we take heed in what we look at, read, observe, and dwell on. Right now, if I were to open any news source, I would probably think, “Life is hopeless.” With bombarding stories of war, political grandstanding, death, depression, divisiveness, etc., who would ever think that life is going to get better? We need to be diligent and guard our minds from those things that will create a defeated mindset.
Everything on the news and social media are outside of our control. The only thing we can control is ourselves. Worrying about things beyond ourselves gives way to hopelessness and despair. Instead of allowing our thoughts to be tossed to and fro by the media, we must regain control and focus on the here and now. We must focus on our actions, our choices, our motives. Beyond that, it doesn’t matter. There will always be wars and rumors of wars. There will always be reports of death and despair. There will always be stories that will make us question life. None of that matters. What matters most is how well we live our own life.
If you want to see life get better, it starts with you. It starts with your thoughts and actions. It starts with how you treat your neighbor and those around you. In the midst of all the darkness, light can be seen. Each of us has a light within us. When we allow our light to shine, the world gets better. When we pursue goodness and righteousness, the world becomes brighter. The question of whether or not the world is going to get better depends solely on each of us. We must guard our thoughts and think only on that which is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. Rather than worry about things outside of our control, we must focus on becoming the best versions of ourselves. When we do this, life will most definitely get better!
As always, stay humble and serve well!