How often have you found yourself cursing a choice you made, when you knew, you just knew you could have done better or should have chosen differently? How often have you gotten a sense that something wasn’t quite right, but you just couldn’t figure out exactly what went wrong, why, or what to do about it?
You reap what you sow.
Yeah, yeah. But how do we stop ourselves, from not even realizing what we’re sowing? I mean, when I glance at chocolate cake how do I turn the promise of deliciousness into the promise of a clogged artery… Then choose not to convince myself to eat the cake anyway?
Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Yeah, yeah. But how do we stop ourselves, from not even realizing when we choose to shackle our mind? I mean, when the super-spectacular new adventure film comes out, how do I turn the promise of a great date night… Into the promise of a late bill payment or limited inheritance? Then, how in the heck do I rejoice in the promise of greatness over the moment of pleasure?
It’s just not easy to change your thinking.
This excerpt from a colleague about sustainable agricultural development is also a remarkably cogent scientific explanation for why our pesky brains get in our way all the time. And stay there.
“In the course of analyzing [the mind] from a systems perspective, we are reminded that [systems of thought] are difficult to change because they are nested in larger educational, economic, and political systems that in turn reflect much bigger trends—among them centralization, industrialization, standardization, and globalization.”
It’s not just you.
The idea of changing one’s thinking in this day-the information age- with ever-changing and improving technology is like trying to lose weight by moving into a candy store. Not to mention, there are very real forces out there whose existence depends on you never changing the way you think.
We were made for more. We are still alive, and that means we still have time to be ever better.
Let’s look at this differently, so we can see how attainable and relevant it really is. Instead of regarding mind renewal as the search for some arguably unimportant, unnecessary, spiritual guru light-switch you’ll have to take precious time from your already awesome life to find within yourself…
Consider thinking of it instead, as best business practice: Sustainable Development.
What is sustainable development?
“Referring to something as sustainable should indicate a method of [development] that is socially and environmentally responsible. Having the title of sustainable inherently implies the [development] was also produced organically. In a broad sense being sustainable means considering all the natural and human resources used in the [development], so a [development] that is sustainable is one that does not degrade or exploit resources, natural or otherwise, in the process of its creation but instead works as part of a system to regenerate and rebuild (not just sustain) the resources it uses, naturally as a holistic process.”
In other words, sustainable development or mind renewal is the ultimate win-win.
But we have to choose to use that model. Even though sustainable development sounds great, doing it is another challenge entirely.
So it begins.
There’s no question that we control our choices and actions. Lots of stuff may get in the way of how we choose and act, but it is ultimately up to us to decide what we do. It is also up to us to get our lives and thoughts in order, so we can make sound decisions.
That’s why mastering the stuff that gets in the way of how we choose and act is important. Even more important, is that we master our mind and renew our thinking. Then, all that stuff goes away, and we get the ultimate guide.
We know nothing is in the way of how we choose and act and we always have the best advisor possible.
The promise of success resulting from choosing and acting in the very best way possible, is why we value intelligence, science, intellectual pursuits: They all suggest mastery of one’s mind, which suggests right thinking, right choosing, and right living, which signifies success and greatness.
Looking at that backwards, if someone’s great and successful, in terms of reaping what you sow… They had a great harvest. This means they chose to tend their territory/life/etc. well. If they chose to tend well, they thought about all the possibilities. They had knowledge of the possibilities first and chose to develop for sustainability. They knew how important sustainable development is: They had mastered or renewed their mind.
When you sow, or put time and effort into planning, planting, establishing and growing something, it isn’t just about the seed. You are choosing to enter a system with multiple inputs and outputs, some of which are within your control. Within that system, the seed, soil, climate, season, water source, neighboring plants, all matter.
To get the best results, you need to fully understand the lay of the land, create a sustainable development plan, and put it into action.
In a planting situation, that might mean you select drought-tolerant crops to plant in a desert. Or, choose to plant flowers nearby so bees can pollinate easily. Or, that you strategically introduce ladybugs to eat predatory insects, or establish plants that attract birds that do the same. It might mean you avoid certain plants that poison others, or inhibit growth.
In life, too often, we lack understanding, fail to plan for sustainability and then just throw up our hands when our creation uses itself up. Even with good intentions we might give it to God, never realizing our passiveness is opting out of our destiny by accepting less for ourselves.
All development or processes of creation will become something: A success, failure or stepping stone. Every development exists in relationship to the rest of the world. The more any creation process seeks to develop at odds with its surroundings, the more stunted and violent the outcome will be.
The ideal development, or process of creation, is sustainable.
It would not only last. It would be designed to function in a way that would enhance, improve, grow and replenish everything around it. It would naturally depend on the promotion and use of the best in everything around it and everyone and thing around would get better because of it.
Truly great people, art, music, food, families, architecture, businesses, urban planning, health, design, all follow these principles.
When a non-sustainable development plan is implemented, it’s because cutting corners not only takes less time and money, but less intelligence to accomplish. What is saved in time, thought and cash is spent in shortened shelf-life, higher maintenance and decreased return on investment.
It’s worth it to understand. It’s worth it to know. It’s worth it to master your mind, so that sustainable development in your life is the only available option.
How do you master your mind?
By realizing your mind is your first seed: You are your first and most important sustainable development.
Before you begin to plant anything else, focus on building, sharpening, cleansing and preparing the most important tool you’ll ever use: Your mind.
Recognize you are learning constantly, just like a baby. What you choose to learn from matters. Your mind has a give and take relationship with its environment. You start sowing into your mind by first carefully considering and choosing its planting conditions.
You wouldn’t plant a weed next to a tomato vine, or spray plant-killing poison over an orange tree you plan to grow and eat from. Nor would you plant a tree that needs light, and water in a concrete bucket in the basement.
You would however, if you knew there were certain plants that make oranges juicier and sweeter… Choose to plant those plants near your orange tree. If you knew of ground cover that prevents weed growth while stimulating tomato production, you’d probably choose to plant that as well.
Your life is no different. What you surround yourself with matters.
You’re building toward something, whether you realize it or not. But your thinking about it has to change. That begins with learning every principle that helps ensure what you create is designed to be sustainable: To thrive, flourish, and regenerate, causing everything around it to do the same.