What’s that floating around in your mind?

Have you ever heard that old maxim “What you think upon grows”?

Is that really true? In that case, I’m surprised my pile of homework isn’t busting out of my house.

What I picture when my homework grows

It’s long been noted that many successful athletes at the top of their game use visualization tactics to enhance their performance. Dr. Jennifer Cumming, in an article for the Association for Applied Sport Psychology, listed the following reasons why athletes should use visualization, or imagery techniques:

  1. To get the most out of training.
  2. To compete more effectively.
  3. To speed up your progress toward the top of your game.
  4. To aid motivation.
  5. To stay in top form when you are unable to train.
I don’t know about you, but those outcomes sound desirable for not only athletics, but for the rest of our personal and professional lives as well.
Cumming explains that visualization is also called imagery, or “mental rehearsal”. Mental, as in of the mind. Thoughts.
My simple mind understands this to mean that athletes think about succeeding in order to succeed.
I read an outstanding book by neuroscientist, Dr. Caroine Leaf recently called Switch On Your Brain: The Key to Peak Happiness, Thinking, and Health. In her book, Dr. Leaf explains fascinating science behind neuroplastisity of the brain, in which new pathways are formed in the brain as a direct result of your thoughts. Her 21-Day Detox program is designed to assist you in building beneficial pathways through, essentially, throwing out the trash you think about and replacing it with thought yielding better results. I made it to about day 5 before I fell off the bandwagon, but this theme has reemerged enough times with me over the past year that I can honestly say I have noticed a welcome improvement in my thought life.
Back to Dr. Cumming. In outcome number one above, Cumming states “Top athletes use imagery extensively to build upon their strengths and help eliminate their weaknesses.” Ummm, yes please!
It’s amazing that something so simple can be so life-changing. But isn’t that always so? I’m not the pot calling the kettle black here, I’m as guilty as anyone of letting my thoughts get away from me.
In Peak Performance, by Stulberg and Magness – coincidentally, another book I recently finished and also highly recommend – authors also discuss neuroplasticity in a broad-spanning examination of commonalities among top performers in various industries.

I think a lot about things I need to accomplish on a daily basis, but if I’m honest, I don’t spend nearly enough time in the mental practice of visualizing (thinking about) goals, dreams, aspirations. Big. Hairy. Audacious. Goals. AKA: BHAGs.

Maybe he’s not so scary after all.
Inside I’m afraid of letting myself – or others – down. I rationalize myself right out of a breakthrough. I think those dreams are for other people. I think tomorrow I’ll dream big…
It’s easy to slip into this trap (don’t I know). Whether you are an all-star athlete or a stay-at-home mother, your mind wants to be unleashed to think BIG, and think positive. Sure, we’ll trip up and stub our toes, but that’s where the real learning comes in.
A good Word.
Did you know there is even a day, May 31 to be exact, called “What you think upon grows day” based upon Emmet Fox’s Make Your Life Worthwhile? I certainly didn’t.
This concept is nothing new, if you have read the New Testament, you have likely come across Philippians 4:8 in which Paul writes to the church at Philippi “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8 ESV.
Eleanor Roosevelt
So let’s try to do ourselves a favor and take stock of our thoughts, adjust where needed (even if it’s 100 times a day), and build the figurative and literal pathways to future success. Who knows, we just might surprise ourselves of the outcome!
Remember, as Eleanor Roosevelt said, “With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.”
This is Stoll on Sports.


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