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How Our Beliefs Affect Our Lives

Written by Dr. Dan Johnston

how our beliefs affect the quality of our livesWe can calm ourselves from the frantic elements around us. We have more control over our lives than we think.

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Eric Butterworth, a well-known Unity minister, says, "Things may happen to you. Things may happen around you. But the only things that really count are the things that happen in you."

Our experience of life is based not only on what happens to us, but also on what we believe about what happens. It is our belief that determines our reaction and creates our experience.

Watch this video of Stephen Covey, author of the "7 Habits of Highly Effective people" on choice and how we respond.

What we believe acts like a lens through which we see the world and colors everything we see. Positive beliefs brighten our life. Negative, pessimistic beliefs darken it. In this way, we live life from the inside out. We live through our beliefs.

Once we accept this simple fact, we are placed in charge of our lives. This is because, while we can't control what happens to and around us, we can control our thinking. We can learn to listen to how we talk to ourselves and discover when we are talking nonsense and creating more misery than we need.

For example, we sometimes exaggerate in our inner dialogue. We say, "I can't stand it." Or, "This is the absolute worst." We create a negative expectation that can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

To grow, we must learn to challenge our thinking and check our more unrealistic interpretations of events.

Call a time-out the next time you hear yourself saying that a frustration is the "worst." Then think of two things that could have happened but didn't. You can always do this, and it will help you to see that the situation is not as bad as it could be.

Your outlook and experience will improve. You may still be in a tough spot, but at least you aren't making it tougher by believing it to be the worst.

Learn to live life from the inside out. Live from your realistic, but positive beliefs, and life will begin to go better.

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Dan Johnston, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and director of psychological services at the Medical Center of Central Georgia. He also serves on the faculty of the Mercer University School of Medicine. Johnston is the creator of the Awakenings Web site, offering lessons for living.