To choose and change my thoughts. To let them grow and let them go. Seeing my thoughts like clouds in the sky I breathe on, open, light and free. Overall, fear is extremely destructive to the human mind and therefore to positive thinking itself. Why? I believe that positive expectations foster creativity itself. More specifically, positive goals and an outlook loosen the inhibitions of the mind so that one creates an optimal environment to start thinking imaginatively and innovatively. This leads to a very constructive dynamic. On the other hand, fear causes paralysis. As a result, you can't move forward and progress; this leads to self-doubt and depression. Furthermore, others can sense when you don't believe in yourself. Fear is contagious, and people around you quickly lose faith in your abilities when you fail to project confidence. On the other hand, when you move forward with high expectations in a positive manner, it encourages others. That's why it's so important to have leaders who constantly raise people's expectations higher. Put simply, true statesmen inspire confidence, creativity, and a can-do spirit in the public. There's an infinite amount of good that grows from positive expectation. You become a sharper, better person for having them. Let's say you go to college and want to join an organization. You like the idea of a college marching band, but you don't know how to play an instrument. If you believe you can learn one, you can easily build a plan of action: renting a saxophone, enlisting the help of a music teacher, and booking lessons.

Expectations plus action help make your goal of earning a spot in the band more likely to happen. But without faith, how would the scenario play out? If you didn't believe it could happen, then you probably wouldn't devise a plan of action. Fear stifles creativity, after all, so you wouldn't have the hope and the motivation to push forward. If you still went through the motions but didn't believe in yourself, then the fear would almost certainly kill your morale. You'd be less likely to practice the instrument. Fear makes you less focused while sapping your enthusiasm. Making decisions based on heuristic techniques might ease the cognitive load, but they are far from practical. And often, heuristics lead to unsatisfying outcomes. If that's the case, take it as a sign that you must change something. Instead of relying on heuristics to filter information and make decisions, rely on the main idea of pragmatism: True is what works. But don't take it too literally. "Taking drugs works for me," is what a contentious friend told me after I shared this idea with him. And he's right--you can't take this idea too literally. But what can you take literally in life? Take the platitude, "Good things come to those who wait," for example. I don't have to explain that it doesn't mean you should sit at home and wait forever until "good things" happen. Look at the "true is what works" idea as a filter that you can apply to all the information that goes into your brain. When faced with decisions, I ask myself: "Will the outcome of a decision change the way I live?" If you ask that yourself consistently, you'll find that you automatically filter out useless information and only make decisions that have an actual impact on the outcome of your life. You force yourself to use whatever works--what's useful.

And what impacts your habits. For example, conventional thinking says that bigger cities also bring you bigger opportunities. I really thought that was true. That's even the main reason I moved to London. And yes, I did seize a big opportunity for me at the time. But I also had bigger responsibilities and problems. Also, I don't like big cities. I hate crowded places, dirty air, and unreasonably high cost of living. Clearly, living in a big city didn't work for me. That way of thinking had a negative impact on the way I lived. That's why I eventually moved back to Leeuwarden. It's quiet, I know a lot of people here, I can work less, make more, and I can drive anywhere in the city within ten minutes. However, I also realize that for most people, my way of living doesn't work. They might find it boring or not exciting enough. So what? Do what works for you. What are you feeling? What mood are you in? Ask yourself, What would I like to do right now? No judging.

No, But I have to do something else. It could be something small, like getting a cup of coffee, as long as it's your need or your desire right at that very moment that you're making important. Now it's time to address your tendency to take on too much responsibility. You're going to risk giving up control. Your new freedom will come from honoring yourself, your own time, or your own flagging energy level and say, "Enough is enough." What discomfort will that bring? Again, it could be fear of how others view you. But the less obvious consequence may lie in a new sense of exposure or confusion. What if you actually have more time for you? You hide by being busy. Other uncomfortable results might be feelings of anger or disappointment if things aren't done by others the way you would've done them. Or you might find insecurity in your new role as onlooker--were you really needed in the first place? Were you appreciated? You can see that with new risks come that onslaught of emotions we've discussed all along. But it's worth the risk, because it will also bring freedom of choice and freedom from so much heavy responsibility. your self-concept. Hence my point: You respond not to what happens to you externally, but instead to how you internalize it. That means you have a tremendous power to influence and control your concept of self. I'm not preaching rah-rah here. I'm talking about your internal dialogue, the real-time conversation you have with you, about you. You have to be honest with yourself, but you do have choices and before we're finished, you will learn how to make them constructively.

Bottom line: It's bad enough if negative things happen in your life, but it becomes disastrous if they result in your kicking your own ass, making them worse. Just as with your external factors, the key to understanding your internal responses lies in knowing where to look and what questions to ask. We need to begin by addressing what for many people is a point of confusion. When I start talking about internal factors, your understandable reaction may be, "He's asking me to examine my thinking, about my thinking," which sounds like a good recipe for a headache. It can sound really circular and impossible to do. Trust me, it's not. I'm not going to send you to the mountaintop without a map, asking you to contemplate your self and your essence. I am going to ask you some very specific questions and, once again, I am going to ask you to write your answers in your private journal. Your writing your answers is extremely important, because it gives you a measure of objectivity. Confusion comes from trying to observe yourself and your thinking without writing things down; it's like trying to see your own face without a mirror--which will give you a headache, I promise. By contrast, when you write your answers down, you gain an external perspective of internal events. Your writing will become the mirror that reflects what is going on in your mind and heart. Too often we give our power away. We expect other people or other things to heal us, complete us or fill us up. Yet when we see at last that we are home in our tremendous power, that we always have been and always will be, we can learn to trust in ourselves and the perfect order of nature. We can touch a kind of inner power, peace and joy that we deserve to know yet are rarely, if ever, `taught' to access. Indeed, we all have the capacity to soothe, comfort and inspire ourselves and, in doing so, experience truly sustainable, healing and fortifying energy as long as we live. It is important to note that I refer here to more general and milder feelings of depression, anxiety and malaise. Those suffering more acutely may find that self-healing practices can work in wonderful harmony with the recommendations of their trusted health professionals. Sharpening our emotional mind-body intelligence and realising the immensity of our own healing power could have profound and life-changing consequences.