Paradise is a State of Mind

I do a lot of online teaching of leadership and business courses. My students live all over the globe and have interesting backgrounds.

I have had a student write his assignments while on bombing runs in Iraq and another individual participate in class while fleeing a hurricane bearing down on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico.

In one of my classes, there was a student living in Hawaii, so many of the other students were jealous of this individual, since we were having a rough winter on the United States mainland.

At one point, a student who lived in Detroit was lamenting another dreary day, and he reached the breaking point. His comment to the student in Hawaii was, “Well, I have to take responsibility for my own misery. After all, I chose not to live in paradise.”

I immediately wrote to the complaining student reminding him that:

“paradise” is a state of mind rather than a state of the Union.

I believe human beings have the power to live in reasonable happiness most of the time, regardless of where they are located or what the conditions are. It all has to do with our attitude.

Please understand, I am not being frivolous here, I am talking about true peace and contentment being possible even when circumstances are far from pleasant.

There are stories galore of POWs who have achieved a state of joy and gratitude for life even as they were being starved and tortured.

One such individual was Viktor Frankl during WWII in the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. Viktor was a psychologist in Vienna living a comfortable life when he was nabbed by the Nazis and brought to the camp.

He was treated with disdain and was starved and beaten, like most POWs. He was curious about why some people survived, while most others quickly died.

He described the survival instinct as the realization that there was something significant to live for, or something yet to do in their life. Once they were reminded of their purpose for living, they had the ability to endure their hopeless situation and survive.

In Viktor’s own situation, he was able to use the power of visualization to rise above the incredible conditions of the moment and feel peace and joy, even among the dying and hopeless people. After the war, he wrote a book on his observations entitled “Man’s Search for Meaning.”

What prison do you live in? Does it sometimes feel like you are suffering needlessly at work? Are the managers in your organization reminiscent of prison guards, or at least schoolyard bullies?

Do you feel there is little hope to be happy or content with the conditions that exist around you? If that describes you, then realize you are making a choice. You are choosing to not live in paradise when the opportunity is there for you to do so, or at least to improve your frame of mind significantly.

I am sure many of you are saying, “This author is crazy; he has no clue about the miserable existence I live here in this dungeon.” Well, that is correct, I do not know your condition, but I do know the person most in control of your happiness is you.

Choose to be happy or ignore this advice and remain miserable. I am not saying this is easy, because if it was, everyone would do it. The fact remains, dissatisfaction can be a powerful motivator for change.

Do what you can to change the external circumstances, but the real work starts within. Get clear on what you really want. Use visualization to vividly imagine what it would be like to have it.

Have the courage to face the difficult issues you have been resisting, forgive others and yourself, make decisions that you have been putting off. While you are making your changes, support yourself with positive self-talk and mental imaging. Seek the help of a coach or other professional when you need it. As you make progress, celebrate it!

The more depressed you are, the more you have to gain. Even when you cannot change the conditions being presented to you by the world, usually you can control your attitude or reactions so that your state of mind is much more enjoyable.

This philosophy is not that profound, and we have all heard some form of it numerous times before. Some people call it “mind over matter.” Norman Vincent Peale called it “The Power of Positive Thinking,” while Earl Nightingale made the observation that “We become what we think about.” Henry Ford quipped, “If you think you can, or if you think you can’t, you are right.”

One helpful book is the classic, “Psycho-Cybernetics” by Maxwell Maltz (1960). Maltz became fascinated with the process of setting goals for his plastic surgery patients. He learned that the power of self-affirmation and mental visualization techniques were enabled by the connection between the mind and the body.

Maltz taught how developing a positive inner vision was a means of developing a positive outer vision. This led to the idea that a person’s outer success almost never rises above the one visualized internally. Many contemporary philosophers such as Zig Ziglar, Tony Robbins, and Brian Tracy have based much of their work on the theories developed by Maltz.

When you are miserable, it is hard to remember that you can be in control if you want to assume that control. When you get depressed, try visualization techniques. They can make a big difference in your life. If you get into that habit, it really is possible in most situations to make significant movement in the right direction.

The key understanding to enable this skill is how to control your thinking. Paradise is not as far away as it seems.

Video #4 – We Keep Discovering the Same Vein of Gold


There have been many books and programs written about visualization and many different techniques you can use. Here are a few resources that I have found helpful in my life.
“Lead the Field” Earl Nightingale, Nightingale Conant Inc.
“The Science of Personal Achievement: The 17 Universal Principles of Success” Napoleon Hill, Nightingale Conant Inc.
“How To Master Your Time” Brian Tracy, Nightingale Conant Inc.
“Goals” Zig Zigler, Nightingale Conant Inc.
“Theatre of the Mind” Maxwell Maltz, Nightingale Conant Inc.
“Unleash the Power Within” Tony Robbins, Nightingale Conant Inc.

To get you started on visualizing your own personal paradise, here is a sample process that many find helpful.

• Relax in a quiet place and focus on the end result. Don’t worry on how you will get there.
• Imagine vividly what it will look like and feel like when the goal is achieved. Use every sense. In what condition are your body, mind, emotions, and spirit? Zoom in on the details. Flesh it out.
• Feel the joy of gratitude for everyone and everything that helped you get to this place. Feel the excitement of achievement.
• Accept that you are able and worthy to achieve this goal.
• Affirm that the Universe is conspiring to assist you.
• Be open to inspired ideas for what the most important steps to take next.
• Trust the process. Experience will show you it is an effective one.
• Write down your goals, including the all important “What’s in it for me.”
• Act on your inspired ideas.

Having visualized the outcome, you have activated the Reticular Activating System, part of your brain which will help you notice things that can be helpful to your quest. Every time you visualize, it gets easier to see yourself succeeding and you can add more detail and get more ideas. Regular visualization can help with your motivation because your goals no longer seem out of reach.

Key Concepts in this article:
1. Paradise is a state of mind, not a state of the Union.
2. We live in a world of our own creation and have much more power than we realize to control the quality of our lives.
3. Many philosophers have discovered the simple but most powerful concept of positive thinking.

Exercises for you:
1. Think of a time when you were miserable. How did you finally pull out of it? That process is one clue to how you can control your emotions in the future.
2. In what ways do you help other people out of their depressions? Are you effective at this, or do you merely annoy people who are already down?
3. Think of three ways to feel more paradise today. What is holding you back from doing these things?

Bob Whipple is CEO of Leadergrow, Inc. an organization dedicated to growing leaders. He can be reached at  585-392-7763. Website   BLOG He is author of the following books: The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind, and Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change.

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