Imagine two people that just turned 60. One of them might think his life is coming to an end, now that his best years are over. The other, however, might be truly excited for everything that’s still in store for her.
What could account for such a striking difference in outlook?
The way that we see the world and ourselves is shaped by our beliefs.
But what exactly is a belief?
A belief is an idea that’s supported by evidence. You might, for example, have the idea that you’re an excellent chess player. But that idea will become a belief only if it’s supported by certain evidence (e.g., you win the majority of the time).
For most of us, any events in our life can act as a reference and inform our beliefs. Unfortunately, this also means that whenever something awful happens – e.g., you lose a loved one – many people use it as support for their belief that life is terrible.
But we don’t have to think that way: if we manage to interpret the reference more positively, we can direct our lives in a more optimistic way. So, if you’re grieving, you could use that experience as a resource to make you stronger as a person. Perhaps you’ll even emerge from the grieving period with a strong desire to help others in mourning.
As this suggests, to bring about a change in your life, you must first change your beliefs.
The problem, however, is that many of us tend to already have strong beliefs that hold us back from changing anything.
Habitual beliefs, like all habits, can be broken. As with any other habit, to change an existing belief, you need to associate pain with the old one and pleasure with the new.
An easy way to accomplish that is to find a role model who has already been successful in changing her beliefs, and adapt her way of doing it to your own purposes.