100 Ways to Motivate Yourself : Change Your Life Forever by Steve Chandler, chapter name 22-27. Kill your television, Break out of your soul cage, Run your own plays, Find your inner Einstein, Run toward your fear, Create the way you relate

22-27. Kill your television, Break out of your soul cage, Run your own plays, Find your inner Einstein, Run toward your fear, Create the way you relate

22. Kill your television

My brother used to own a T-shirt store and one of the most popular shirts for sale said, "Kill Your Television." I bought that T-shirt with the picture of a TV being blown up. It still makes people nervous to look at it when I wear it today.

You can actually change your life by turning off your television. Maybe just one evening a week, to start with. What would happen if you stopped trying to find life in other people's shows and let your own life become the show you got hooked on?

Cutting down on television is sometimes terrifying to the electronically addicted, but don't be afraid. You can detox slowly. If you're watching too much television and you know it, you might find it useful to ask this one question: "Which side of the glass do I want to live on?" When you are watching television you are watching other people do what they love doing for a living. Those people are on the smart side of the glass, because they are having fun, and you are passively watching them have fun. They are getting money, and you are not.

There's nothing wrong with occasionally watching other people do what they love doing. But the average household now does this for seven hours a day! Are they living on the side of the glass that will advance their lives? (Big advertisers hope not.)

Here's a good test for you to determine if television motivates you more than books do: Try to remember what you watched on television a month ago. Think hard. What effect are those shows having on the inspired side of your brain? Now think about the book that you read a month ago. Or even the e-zine you read last week. Which made a more valuable and lasting impression? Which form of entertainment better leads you in the direction of self-motivation?

Today the growing fascination with going online is an improvement over television, especially if you interact. Communicating inside thoughtful chat rooms and sending and receiving e-mail both grow the brain.

Television does the opposite.

Groucho Marx once said he found television very educational. "Every time someone turns it on," he said, "I go in the other room to read a book."

23. Break out of your soul cage

Our society encourages us to seek comfort. Most products and services advertised day and night are designed to make us more comfortable and less challenged.

And yet, only challenge causes growth. Only challenge will test our skills and make us better. Only challenge and the self-motivation to engage the challenge will transform us. Every challenge we face is an opportunity to create a more skillful self.

So it is up to you to constantly look for challenges to motivate yourself with. And it's up to you to notice when you're buried alive in a comfort zone. It's up to you to notice when you are spending your life, in the image of the poet William Olsen, like a flower "living under the wind."

Use your comfort zones to rest in, not to live in. Use them consciously to relax and restore your energy as you mentally prepare for your next challenge. But if you use comfort zones to live in forever, they become what rock singer Sting calls your "soul cages." Break free. Fly away. Experience what the philosopher Fichte meant when he said, "Being free is nothing. Becoming free is heavenly."

24. Run your own plays

Design your own life's game plan. Let the game respond to you rather than the other way around. Be like Bill Walsh, the former head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. Everybody thought he was a kind of eccentric because of how extensively he planned his plays in advance of each game. Most coaches would wait to see how the game unfolded, then respond with plays that reacted to the other team. Not Bill Walsh. Walsh would pace the sidelines with a big sheet of plays that his team was going to run, no matter what. He wanted the other team to respond to him.

Walsh won a lot of Super Bowls with his unorthodox proactive approach. But all he did was to act on the crucial difference between creating and reacting.

You can create your own plans in advance so that your life will respond to you. If you can hold the thought that at all times your life is either a creation or a reaction, you can continually remind yourself to be creating and planning. "Creation" and "reaction" have the same letters in them, exactly; they are anagrams. (Perhaps that's why people slip so easily out of one and into the other.)

Many of us can spend whole days reacting without being aware of it. We wake up reacting to news on the clock radio. Then we react to feelings in our body. Then we start reacting to our spouses or our children. Soon we get in the car and react to traffic, honking the horn and using sign language. Then, at work, we see an e-mail on our computer screen and react to that. We react to stupid customers and insensitive bosses who are intruding on our day. During a break, we react to a waitress at lunch.

This habit of reacting can go on all day, every day. We become goalies in the hockey game of life, with pucks flying at us incessantly. It's time to play another position. It's time to fly across the ice with the puck on our own stick ready to shoot at another goal.

Robert Fritz, who has written some of the most profound and useful books on the differences between creating and reacting, says, "When your life itself becomes the subject matter of the creative process, a very different experience of life opens to you—one in which you are involved with life at its very essence."

Plan your day the way Bill Walsh planned his football games. See the tasks ahead as plays you're going to run. You'll feel involved in your life at its very essence, because you'll be encouraging the world to respond to you. If you don't choose to do that, the life you get won't be an accident. As an old Jewish folk saying puts it, "A person who does not make a choice makes a choice."

25. Find your inner Einstein

The next time you see a picture of Albert Einstein, realize that that's actually you. See Albert Einstein and say, "there I am."

Every human has the capacity for some form of genius. You don't have to be good with math or physics to experience genius level in your thinking. To experience Einstein's creative level of thinking, all you have to do is habitually use your imagination.

This is a difficult recommendation for adults to follow, though, because adults have become accustomed to using their imaginations for only one thing: worrying. Adults visualize worst-case scenarios all day long. All their energy for visualization is channeled into colorful pictures of what they dread.

What they don't comprehend is that worry is a misuse of the imagination. The human imagination was designed for better things. People who use their imaginations to create with often achieve things that worriers never dream of achieving, even if the worriers possess much higher IQs. People who habitually access their imaginations are often hailed by their colleagues as "geniuses"—as if "genius" was a genetic characteristic. They would be better understood as people who are practiced at accessing their genius.

Recognition of the power of this genius in all of us prompted Napoleon to say, "Imagination rules the world."

As a child, you instinctively used your imagination as it was intended. You daydreamed and made stuff up. You were a daydream believer by day and in your right brain at night you sailed down a river of dreams.

If you go back into that state of self-confidence and dream again, you'll be pleasantly surprised at how many innovative and immediate solutions you come up with to your problems.

Einstein used to say, "Imagination is more important than knowledge." When I first heard he'd said that, I didn't know what he meant. I always thought additional knowledge was the answer to every difficult problem. I thought if I could just learn a few more important things, then I'd be okay. What I didn't realize was that the very thing I needed to learn was not knowledge, but skill. What I needed to learn was the skill of proactively using my imagination.

And once I'd learned that skill, the first task was to begin imagining the vision of who I wanted to be. Songwriter Fred Knipe once wrote a song about this. It was for the soundtrack of a video produced for teenagers about how to visualize themselves succeeding at what they wanted to do:

"That's you / in your wildest dreams / doing the wildest things / no one else can do. If you / just love and keep those dreams / the wildest dreams / you'll make yourself come true."

To make ourselves come true we need to develop the strength to dream. Dreaming, in its proactive sense, is strong work. It's the design stage of creating the future. It takes confidence and it takes courage. But the greatest thing about active dreaming is not in the eventual reaching of the goal—the greatest thing is what it does to the dreamer.

Forget the literal attainment of your dream for now. Focus on just going for it. By simply going for the dream, you make yourself come true.

26. Run toward your fear

The world's best-kept secret is that on the other side of your fear there is something safe and beneficial waiting for you. If you pass through even a thin curtain of fear you will increase the confidence you have in your ability to create your life.

General George Patton said, "Fear kills more people than death." Death kills us but once, and we usually don't even know it. But fear kills us over and over again, subtly at times and brutally at others. But if we keep trying to avoid our fears, they will chase us down like persistent dogs. The worst thing we can do is close our eyes and pretend they don't exist.

"Fear and pain," says psychologist Nathaniel Branden, "should be treated as signals not to close our eyes but to open them wider." By closing our eyes we end up in the darkest of comfort zones—buried alive.

Janis Joplin's biography, which chronicled her death from alcohol and drug abuse, was aptly titled Buried Alive. To Janis, as to so many similarly troubled people, alcohol provided an artificial and tragically temporary antidote to fear. It is no accident that in the old frontier days the nickname for whiskey was "false courage."

There was a time in my life, not too many years ago, when my greatest fear of all was public speaking. It didn't even help that fear of speaking in front of people was people's number one fear, even greater than the fear of death. This fact once caused comedian Jerry Seinfeld to point out that most people would rather be in the coffin than delivering the eulogy.

For me, it ran even deeper than that. As a child I could not give oral book reports. I'd plead with my teachers to let me off the hook. I would offer to do two, even three written book reports if I didn't have to do the oral one. Yet as my life went on, I wanted to be a public speaker more than anything. My dream was to teach people everywhere to learn the ideas that lead to self-motivation, the ideas that I had learned. But how could I ever do this if stage fright left me frozen with fear?

Then one day as I was driving in Phoenix flipping through the radio stations looking for good music, I accidentally happened upon a religious station where a histrionic preacher was yelling, "Run toward your fear! Run right at it!" I hastened to change the station, but it was too late. Deep down I knew that I had just heard something I needed to hear. No matter what station I turned to, all I could hear was that madman's words: "Run toward your fear!"

The next day I still couldn't get it out of my mind, so I called a friend of mine who was an actress. I asked her to help me get into an acting class she had once told me about. I told her I thought I was ready to overcome my fear of performing in front of people.

Although I lived in a high state of anxiety the first weeks of that class, there was no other way around my fear. There was no real way to run from it any longer, because the more I ran, the more pervasive it got. I knew I had to turn around and run toward the fear or I would never pass through it.

Emerson once said, "The greater part of courage is having done it before," and that soon became true of my speaking in public. Fear of doing it can only be cured by doing it. And soon my confidence was built by doing it again and again.

The rush we get after running through the waterfall of fear is the most energizing feeling in the world. If you are ever in an undermotivated mood, find something you fear and do it—and watch what happens.

27. Create the way you relate

We can't create our truest selves without creating relationships in the process. Relationships are everywhere. Relationships are everything. "There is no end to relationship," said the Indian spiritual leader

Krishnamurti. "There may be the end of a particular relationship, but relationship can never end. To be is to be related."

I have trained many corporations with a four-part seminar series. The first three parts are on self-motivation, and the final part is on relationship building. Sometimes CEOs ask me up front, ahead of the training, if I don't have that ratio out of balance.

"Shouldn't you have more of it be on relationship building?" they ask. "After all, team-building and customer relations are surely more important than self-motivation."

I stand by my ratio. We can't relate to others if our relationship with ourselves is poor. A commitment to personal motivation comes first. Because who wants to have a relationship with someone who is not motivated in any way?

When we do get to the fourth part, relationship building, the focus is on creativity. Creativity is the most neglected and yet most useful aspect of relationship building.

In relationships most of us think with our emotions rather than our minds. But to think with our feelings instead of our minds puts us in the unresourceful state that Colin Wilson describes as being upside-down.

When we view relationships as opportunities for creativity, they always get better. When our relationships get better, we are even more motivated.

My youngest daughter, Margie, was in fourth grade when a very shy girl in her class accidentally put a large black mark on her own nose with an indelible marker. Many of the kids in the class pointed at her and started to laugh. The little girl was finally reduced to tears of embarrassment. At some point Margie walked over to the girl to give her some comfort.

(Margie's astonished teacher related this story to me.) Impulsively, Margie picked up the marker and marked her own nose, and then handed the marker to another classmate and said, "I like my nose this way. What about you?"

In a few moments the entire class had black marks on their noses, and the shy girl who was once crying was laughing. At recess, Margie's class all went out on the playground with marked noses, and they were the envy of the school—obviously into something unusual and "cool." This story is interesting to me because of how Margie used her creativity and her mind instead of her emotions to solve a problem. She elevated herself up into her mind, where something clever could be done. If she had used her feelings to think with, she might have expressed anger at the class for laughing at the girl, or sadness and depression.

Any time you take a relationship problem up into the mind, you have unlimited opportunities to get creative. Conversely, when you send a relationship problem down the elevator into the lower half of the heart, you risk staying stuck in the problem forever.

This doesn't mean that you shouldn't feel anything. Feel everything! Notice your feelings. Just don't think with them. When there's a relationship problem to be solved, travel up your ladder to the most creative you. You'll soon realize that we create the relationships we have in our lives; they don't just happen.

"We are each of us angels with only one wing," said the Italian artist

Luciano de Crescenzo, "and we can only fly embracing each other."