So What Do You Think?: A Guide to a Positive Mind

So What Do You Think?: A Guide to a Positive Mind

by Clair Swinburne

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This positive psychology guide presents an overview of how the mind works to give you a clearer understanding of how to look after your mental wellbeing.

We all need to take care of our mental health. But just how do you accomplish this? InSo What Do You Think?author Clair Swinburne helps you understand the natural workings of the mind and uncovers interesting facts about what affects our reality to provide insights into how to achieve positive results in life.

So What Do You Think?examines the attitudes, outlooks, and mindsets that produce success in life. It reviews how the mind works and how it can impact your behaviour, your reality, the things you attract into your life and your body. This analysis will provide a greater understanding of how to look after your mind and it will give you a deeper knowledge about what works for you and what doesn't.

Using anecdotes and humour, Clair helps you learn new perspectives and strategies that can improve your wellbeing and produce more positive attitudes and results.So What Do You Think?also outlines 10 Practical Techniques to help you implement changes to begin looking after your mental wellbeing NOW.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781462029372
Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
Publication date: 07/28/2011
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 112
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Clair Swinburne is a Master Practitioner of NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) and an experienced teacher who has taught in the United Kingdom and Ireland. For many years she has been a pupil leader and mentor. She currently lives in Ireland whre she leads courses and gives talks on empowerment.

Read an Excerpt

So What Do You Think?

A Guide for the Teenage Mind

iUniverse, Inc.

Copyright © 2011 Clair Swinburne
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4620-2935-8

Chapter One


"All of the animals except man, know that the principle business of life is to enjoy it" Samuel Butler, poet

Let's start off by thinking about our ultimate aim here. Think about it for a second. What do we all ultimately want in life?

Many of you are probably thinking: Money!

Although that may be your first instinctive answer, it probably isn't ultimately what you want. Let's presume you are already rich. What would you then want in life?

Some of you are probably thinking: Success in your career!

Again, there's probably something else you're not thinking of. So let's assume you are rich and you have plenty of success in your career. Now, what do you think you want in life? Have we got there yet?

It's fair to say that everyone's ultimate aim in life is to be happy. We know that being rich doesn't make you happy. If it did, every wealthy person would be happy. But, of course, this is not the case. Also, it's not true that all people who are successful in their careers are happy.

Many of us get so distracted with the goals of money and work that sometimes we forget to give much attention or thought to how to achieve the most important thing in our lives, happiness.

Think about how much time you have ever devoted to your own happiness. Have you ever studied anything along those lines in school? Have you ever read any books that would enlighten you on the subject? Probably not.

In this book, we're going to analyse people who are happy and successful in life! This will give us an insight into what makes people happy and successful in everything they do. From this, we can learn new perspectives, strategies and attitudes which may improve our own wellbeing and produce more positive behaviour in us. We will also look at how our minds work to give us a clearer understanding of ourselves and our reality. This will give us a deeper knowledge about what works for us and what doesn't. Take on board the things that work for you.

I'll bet you've had this conversation with your mother when out shopping.

"I don't like that top."

"Try it on!"

"But I really don't like it!"

"Try it on!"

"But I'm not going to buy it since I don't like it, am I?"

"Try it on for size!"

I guess that's what I'm asking you to do. "Try things on for size!"

"If we all worked on the assumption that what is accepted as really true were really true, there would be little hope of advance" Orville Wright, inventor

Chapter Two


"If it's possible for anyone else to do, then it's possible to learn" Anon

We often forget that this is true. If someone else can do something, then it is possible for us to learn how to do it too. Whatever you have admired in another person, did you realise that if they can do it, then you can learn it, too? You can learn anything, skills, attitudes, behaviours, perspectives ...

Think about someone who you think is truly happy. What characteristics and attitudes does that person have? Write them down. If a particular person doesn't spring to mind, think about what characteristics you would imagine a truly happy person to have?

Need a bit of help? In the 1970s, a group of psychologists asked themselves that same question. What characteristics do happy, successful people have? And what is it that works for them to produce excellent behaviour and a contentment that most people crave? This analysis became the foundation of what we now know as NLP.

NLP stands for Neuro Linguistic Programming and it is like an umbrella title for all things that work to produce successful and excellent behaviour. Most psychology studies look to analyse issues and focus on problem behaviours in order to understand how problems are developed. All the time and effort is focussed on the problem. NLP is refreshingly different in that it's not concerned with problem behaviours or analysing people's issues. NLP is all about focussing on what works!

As I mentioned earlier, it was developed by analysing successful and excellent behaviour in people who were experts in their field, were happy and successful in life, and who also brought about amazing positive change in others. They were analysed in terms of the thoughts and workings of their minds (neuro), the use of their language and their communication (linguistic), and the patterns of behaviour they consistently produced (programming).

We are all unique in so many different ways. This comes from what we learn from the world, from our experiences, from people in our lives, from our teachers, from our friends. But sometimes what we learn doesn't produce the best attitudes and strategies for happy successful lives and often we don't even realise it.

There is a great poem, 'Children Learn What They Live', by writer and family counsellor Dorothy Law Nolte (1924-2005) which really sums this up. Here's a snippet from it:

"If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn. ... If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive"

We all learn different things and develop different ways of being. From our individual experiences, we develop strategies on how to live. We have developed strategies for everything: how to love, how to learn, how to cope, how to make a decision, how to be.

Some strategies work well for us and some don't work for us at all. Often, we don't even realise when something isn't working for us. We don't understand that some strategies we've picked up and learnt along the way may be completely ineffective and produce mediocre results. Life strategies or "techniques for becoming a happier person" aren't covered in school or in the majority of training courses. In many cases, we don't know about other strategies for life because we usually learn one way (from experience and people around us), and then we tend to stick with it, no longer "trying things on for size".

Think of the following example: You travel from home to school (or work) a certain route every day. That works: you get to school (work) every day. Then, one day, a friend tells you about the route she travels. Her way is quicker and there's less traffic on the roads! You had never even realised that there was a better road than the way you had been going for years. After all, you never had reason to question it; the route you took did get you to where you wanted to go. If you hadn't been talking to your friend about how you travel to work, you'd never have found out about the new quicker route. If she hadn't told you, then you'd never have known about it.

And that's true about life. We rarely chat and discuss life strategies with others. And we probably never think to question what the most effective ways of doing things are, to produce the best results for us? And if no one ever tells us, then how can we learn anything new?

We must be open to thinking about things in completely new ways. If we start thinking about these things, and looking at what other people do, and the strategies that clearly work for them, we can understand a little more about what might work better for us.

You may be very attached to some of your old ways of doing/thinking about things because you've been doing and thinking them for years, but that doesn't mean there aren't more effective ways out there. Often, when we see people doing something really well, we think, "Wow, that's great! But I could never do that; they can do it because it's who they are!"

Not true! Watch them, model them, do what they do. If it works for them, it may work for you too. After all, "If it's possible for anyone else to do, then it's possible to learn."

Chapter Three


"Everything that happens to us is the result of what we ourselves have thought, said, or done. We alone are responsible for our lives" Buddha

One of the most important things to note about successful happy people is that they are on the 'Cause' side in life. What does this mean?

Psychologists say that we are either on the 'Cause' or the 'Effect' side in our approach to life. If you are on the 'Effect' side, you don't make positive changes in your life; only people on the 'Cause' side do. It is suggested that most people are on the 'Effect' side most of the time, but we can switch from one side to the other depending on different circumstances or times in our lives. So What Do You Think?


Effect: "I didn't do well in my exams because my teachers were useless and my parents never pushed me to study!"

Cause: "I didn't do well in my exams because I didn't work as hard as I could have and I never studied."

Effect: "I didn't go for that job because Mary made me feel like I wouldn't be good enough."

Cause: "I didn't go for the job because I didn't take the opportunity."

Effect: "I didn't finish my homework because my friends called to the door."

Cause: "I didn't do my homework because my friends called and I completely forgot about it."

Figured out the difference? People on the 'Effect' side always blame other people, events and situations for why they did or did not do something. If it's always someone else's fault, then they never have to worry about taking charge or actually doing something about it themselves. However, they don't realise that by doing this, they give up control of their lives to other people, events and situations. Their doing something – anything - will depend on something someone else says or does.

If I asked you to give up the power to control your own life, would you agree? I didn't think so. But people forget that this is what they are effectively doing when they are on the 'Effect' side. People on the 'Cause' side accept responsibility for their actions. They understand that if they don't do something, the only people to blame are themselves.

Before you start thinking that being on the 'Cause' side means giving yourself a hard time about all the things you haven't done in your life, understand that it is also really empowering. Why? Because if you want to do anything in the future, you will also understand that it is you, and only you, who have the power to do it. You don't have to wait for other people or situations to align themselves before it can happen for you! People on the 'Effect' side see life as a game of chance. Certain things will happen and they can't do anything about it.

Successful happy people realise that we alone are responsible for our lives. We completely control it. It is very comforting and empowering to know that you are in the driving seat of your own life. Thinking like this will automatically make you more likely to achieve goals you set in your future.

Think about it, if you ask most people how they ended up in their job, many of them will say that one thing led to another. They never thought that they would end up doing what they're doing. Many of us can be guilty of "reacting to situations". Being on the 'Effect' side of situations and people means we 'end up' in positions we'd never thought about or planned for. Sometimes, we "end up" in situations where we're very happy. However, you need to be aware of when you're letting people and situations direct your life and when you are taking responsibility and control of it yourself!

"You are in charge of your mind and therefore your results!" Anon

It is also worth noting that the converse is true. When something goes well, we often tend to give the credit to other things or people. "I did really well in my exams because I had good teachers and my parents are the ones who pushed me to study." People can help us but it is ultimately you who does it. You should understand that when you do something good and positive in your life, it is you who should get the credit for it. We can often forget about that. Understanding that you are the cause of your achievements is a very important part of you learning to value and appreciate yourself.

And, of course, truly valuing and appreciating yourself makes you happy!

Chapter Four


"Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude" Thomas Jefferson, US President

In developing NLP, there were a number of common attitudes found amongst those people studied. Some of these attitudes were:

Respect for the other person's model of the world

We can't write people off because they don't match what we think they should be or do or think. We have all grown up in different situations and had different things to deal with throughout our lives. We've each had different experiences and influences. Naturally, this shapes the way we view the world. Even two brothers who are brought up by the same parents can still develop very different models and views of the world because no two people will ever have the same experiences or learning in their lives. Did you know that you are the only person who will ever think exactly as you do? It is important to remember this in order to help us better understand others and ourselves.

People are not their behaviours

People are so much more than their behaviours and it's very important to remember this when dealing with negative behaviours, especially our own. Everybody acts differently in different contexts and situations.

For example, when a person is really rude to you, your automatic reaction is to think that he is just a really rude person. However, their behaviour to you that day doesn't necessarily mean that is who they are. He could just be having a stressful day. His rude behaviour may have been completely out of character and just a by- product of a series of things that happened to him. Now, let's say he is regularly rude to people. It is important to understand (and respect his model of the world) that there could be many reasons why he has developed/ learned this behaviour. However, just because he was rude to you a number of times doesn't mean that he will always be rude, and it doesn't mean he will never be able to change that.

However, when people refuse to separate the person from the behaviour, they "label" the person. A label becomes an expectation (and hence a limitation) and, when we expect certain behaviours from people, we are rarely disappointed.

Labelling pupils regularly takes place in schools. Often, people don't even realise they are doing it; it's an unconscious reaction. When a pupil is acting out, being rude or aggressive, the pupil is often labelled by a teacher as a problem. It can often follow that the teacher will grow to expect that problem behaviour every time she is in the class. The pupil will often live up to these expectations. If the pupil wants to try and change their behaviour (but the teacher is expecting negative behaviour), they may not get the chance to change. And even if their behaviour does change, the teacher's perception might not.

There are numerous studies which support the fact that labels and expectations can be self-fulfilling prophecies. If you expect it, you get it! But there is a really interesting study by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. and Claudia M. Mueller, Ph.D., which shows that even positive labels can have a negative effect. They found that even positively labelling a pupil's intelligence, for example using a label such as "gifted", can have a negative impact on a child's learning. How? It is found that pupils labelled "gifted" can often become reluctant to try new things for fear of making a mistake and doing something that might put that label into question. Not only do they demonstrate a reluctance to try new things but also a real lack of coping skills if an attempt is then made but unsuccessful.

The psychologists found that commending pupils for their hard work and effort puts the focus on strategies for achievement rather than performance. If the pupil was unsuccessful, they blamed their own lack of effort or strategy rather than their intelligence. Dr. Dweck, Professor of Psychology at Stanford University and lead author of this study, says that the root of the problem lies not in the labels themselves but in the mind-sets they represent. Children who believe in permanent traits like fixed intelligence are actually vulnerable because, when something goes wrong, they think they don't deserve the label anymore, she says.


Excerpted from So What Do You Think? by CLAIR SWINBURNE Copyright © 2011 by Clair Swinburne. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Do You Know What You Want?....................1
Who Do You Want To Be Like?....................5
Who Is In Charge?....................11
Anyone For An Attitude?....................15
Are You Friends With You?....................27
Do You Know What You're Doing When You're Doing It?....................33
What Way Are You Seeing Things Today?....................37
What Makes Up Your Reality?....................41
What's Your Frequency, Kenneth?....................49
In Your Mind, Are You Healthy?....................57
Awareness Is Key....................71
Focus On What You Want....................85

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