We are surrounded by mantras and memes directing us to the power of positive thinking.
I saw a Facebook post the other day where a woman was asking for advice for something she genuinely deemed to be a problem. The bottom response was about her “vibrational frequencies” and how she must be subconsciously “attracting” the results.
The Secret is compelling: we merely need to think our way to success and we will manifest results.
It’s an endlessly optimistic concept. Health, wealth, and love are waiting for us around the corner if only we can focus on the positive enough, if only we can repeat the right mantras, and if only we can do this work so deeply that we can blast away subconscious patterning.
Subconscious means we are not aware of it. I’m not entirely sure how anyone could even assess their “vibrational frequency” let alone consciously examine the frequency of their subconscious.
There’s an underlying implication that success only comes down to mindset. If you fail at mindset, you will fail at generating results. Therefore, the only thing separating you from a successful person is your mindset.
If you think your mindset is fine, then it’s possible that your failure is “subconscious,” which means that you must look harder, try more, dig deeper, do more of the “internal work” required of winners.
As a result, it’s no surprise that we are societally looking for the panacea. We believe in hyper-responsibility to the point that we aren’t even sure if the problem is conscious or subconscious.
When it comes to health and fitness, we grasp at miracle solutions, programs which are sold and marketed as “lifestyles.” We are no longer served by mere “diets,” because diets are about tactics, whereas lifestyles addresses mindset and manifestations of positive future success. We have bought into a belief that we simply need to work harder, do more, exert more effort, and blast away subconscious negativity.
Yet, we didn’t find a miracle in low fat in the 90s. No collective health gains were made in the last decade by either Paleo, Keto, or gluten-free diets. And yet, we continue to search.
We continue to search because these programs are still diets (albeit diets with a layer of extra effort of looking in the mirror and repeating positive declarations of future success) and we are thus convinced that the answer lies in our own mindset failure. So we try the next program.
We seek magic, and when it’s nowhere to be found, we are sure it’s our own negative thinking. We are encouraged to dig into childhood wounds of decades past, as if those are somehow running though our minds when we sit in front of a piece of buttery sourdough bread, which would tempt even the most resolve or woundless among us.
“As a child I was teased for being fat, so it must be a protective mechanism that I haven’t healed,” with a side of butter, please.
We seek to find others who can support erasure of difficulty by way of books and courses and “accountability groups.” These groups are filled with “you got this!” missives as solutions to challenges, rather than tips on how to banish or actually cope with real human biological struggles. Weight Watchers has existed for decades and is proof that simply telling others we are on a diet doesn’t make the diet work.
But we remain optimistic that a motivational, mindset-based solution is just around the corner. With hard work, effort, and repetition of our heart’s truest desires, we can “manifest” anything we truly want. And if we cannot, it somehow means we must have childhood wounds or unconscious desires to protect ourselves; we lack focus or we lack drive or desire.
The issue isn’t your mindset; it’s that humans are hardwired to find salt, fat, and sugar appealing. No amount of “you got this” or mindset shift around carbs is going to change your DNA.
There’s no “Secret.”
A study on contract behaviour by the economics department of UC California Stanford is among my favourite: the gym is the only area of life where we contractually obligate ourselves to future behaviour we are sure we will have in a year rather than current behaviour of today. Somewhere, we hope our negative mindset about hating the gym will evaporate and we will be among the gym goers of tomorrow one year from now. So we scribble a signature with a dose of hope.
The solution is not one of mindset, hard work, subconscious desire, or more effort.
The solution is consistent small daily choices—the same, small, consistent daily choices that are required to maintain anything.
Is maintaining your body important enough to do the boring zillion things needed? Are you willing to make consistent choices to do so over a lifetime? Are you prioritizing spending a few minutes on maintenance of your health and fitness in your day? Are you willing to look at your current gym behavior and sign a contract based on your current usage not the usage you hope will materialize next year?
Positive thinking doesn’t enhance your lifespan. Positive thinking doesn’t magically melt away pounds or make you fit. Memes and mantras don’t make things better.
Feel free to complain that health and fitness is boring or hard. It won’t change the result. Being honest will likely make it better, bring you to alignment, and free you from thinking that the issue is your mindset.
The solution is way more boring than Post-it notes on a mirror or scrolling Instagram, or examining childhood wounds.
It’s simple: you’ve been granted one body. Want to keep it from falling apart? Stand up and get moving. Go for a walk. Swim. Dance. Putter in the garden.
Want to be healthy? Eat real foods in quantities your body needs, nothing less and nothing more. Often this comes down to boring choices rather than motivational moments.
It shouldn’t require hard work or effort: nature didn’t design a system that was complicated or challenging. It is only us who make it so by wanting.
What makes things better is dropping the body hate and dropping the mantras, and deciding what actions you are willing to take, knowing that it doesn’t take much to maintain your body.
We need actions and not memes. We need to tend to our bodies the way we tend to a plant: with small acts of constant kindness—not a flood of fertilizer and prayers.
If you want more out of life, take small, consistent actions over years and years. Your mindset will follow.