Most of the the time we see what we want to see. In the book Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior (now, think about that title!), Ori & Rom Brafman write about the effects of pre-existing beliefs and how they effect our ongoing belief patterns- even when confronted with new information to the contrary.
They write about a visiting lecturer, a guest teacher at MIT. As an experiment, the teacher lectured 70 economics students at the prestigious university.
Now, you've gotta think- if anyone is not going to be swayed by something, it's going to be this bunch of smarties. Right?
Well, all 70 students were given a bio on the visiting professor. The bio was a page long and detailed the profs accomplishments. The students were instructed to review it before listening to the lecture.
The only difference was this:
* half of the students had a bio that said the guest teacher was "a very warm person"
* the other half had a bio that said the prof was "rather cold"
That's it. No differences otherwise. The students all listened to the same lecture, and then were asked to grade the professor.
The results were amazing!
The half that received the "warm person" bio wrote how great the teacher was. He was funny. He made them laugh. He told great stories and made things applicable. He made economics actually exciting!
The half that received the "rather cold" bio said the teacher was aloof. He was self-centered. He was rigid, inflexible, and boring. Oh, and he was formal. Stiff. Lifeless.
Did they not sit through the same lecture at the exact same time? Of course they did. What happened? Quite simply this: the students saw what they already believed to be true.
Here's the reality. Many times we see what we've already decided we'll see. In other words, seeing is believing, yes. But, often, believing is seeing.
You see how that works?
* If you're looking for reasons why you'll get a bad outcome, you'll likely read everything through that lenses.
* If you believe you're going to succeed, that you're going to have a great outcome, you'll (likewise) look at everything through that lenses.
Internally, your mind will subconsciously kick into over-drive, scanning the universe for hints and clues to back up what you've already determined to be true. And, that will become the grid whereby you view reality.
I decided to try this theory out. We were at the pool over the summer. I often give my kids a "challenge" when we're swimming. Something like "do 10 flips under water." Or "catch a pass behind your back while jumping into the pool." It's become an expected game we play every time we're at the pool.
"What's the challenge for the dollar?" they ask.
(I often reward all the winners with a dollar that they can blow on video games when we go eat pizza or do something like that.)
On this trip, I had asked them to swim sideways across the pool- there and back- underwater, holding their breath. No one had even tried it yet. They had all assumed it was impossible.
My wife leaned to me and said, "This is a great time to give them a pep talk..."
So, I ran an experiment about limiting beliefs.
"Kids," I said, "turn around and look around the pool. I want you to take 5 seconds, while I count out loud... Count how many blue things you can find..."
I began counting backwards down from 5...
And they began counting up from 1... each of them racing to find blue.
* Some noticed the sky
* Others noticed a tool shed
* Someone insisted the water should count, since it was a light shade of blue
* Another spotted a toy that had some blue in it.
After 5 seconds I stopped them. Then I asked, "How many green items did you see?"
"We were counting blue," they told me. Each of them.
They each began tauting their numbers to prove it. Some had 6. Most had 3 or 4. It didn't matter, I reminded them. I wanted to know how many green they found.
"None," one of them finally told me.
"None?" I asked. "But you have the grass all around this pool and at least a few hundred trees."
"We didn't see it," they said. Then- "We were looking for blue things."
I then explained the gig to them- and showed them how I had set them up.
"You found blue," I said, "because that's what you were looking for. Even if there was more green here to be found... "
In the same way, you assumed you couldn't make it across the pool, so you looked for reasons to prove you couldn't do it.
* It's too far
* You're not strong enough
* You're too little and the pool is too big
* All of that...
"Sometimes we believe something because we see it. Most of the time, though, we see because we already believe what we're looking for. That's two different things."
Notice what the Bible says about this. Proverbs 23:7- "As a man things, so is he..."
OK. I know that one is Old Testament. But it simply says what we said above. Many times, you simply turn into what you think about.
The great news is this. Paul writes that Christ can do "... more than we can ask think, or imagine..." That's in Ephesians 3:19-20 (yep, New Testament).
* I can imagine a great deal
* I can think amazing
* I can dream big.
I'm sure you can, too.
Interestingly enough, the New Testament also reads in 1 Corinthians 2:16 that "... you have the mind of Christ." That word mind in the New Testament means, get this... imagination. You have the imagination of Christ!
That's right. In the same way that Paul gave himself to a Heavenly dream (read Acts 26:19), you also can give yourself to the dreams God has placed in you.
In fact, this is why Paul prayed over and over and over that (See Ephesians 1:18) "... the eyes of your understanding would be enlightened..."
That is, he wants you to see the greatest possible future. He wants you to see the reasons why you will succeed, why you will see the Lord's abundance and favor in your life.
I believe this...
I think that once you set your mind to a dream, to something that you are going to achieve, two things happen at the same time.
1. First, your mind starts creating ways- and showing you new ideas- to make that dream happen. I've seen this with Cristy's business. She knows she will succeed, so her mind floods her with new ideas of how to make things work.
2. Second, the Lord's hand moves towards you. It's as if you're moving from the present to the future... and He's coming at you from the future, bringing that dream into reality!
In other words, you enter into this incredible partnership with Him, living out the very things He's ordained for you from the very beginning (see Ephesians 2:8-10).
Why is a picture worth 1,000 words? Because if you see it, you can tap into it... and then do it!
Yeah... go ahead and receive it. And may you pray with your eyes open so you can see it coming, and may you pray with your hands open so you can catch the goodness as it happens...
We taught this info at Advance, a live workshop you can now access online. This video originally appeared at Advance 4.0 in San Diego.
Go to www.TheLadder.info to stream Advance 6.0 free of charge!
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