The next post in the life-changing literature series comes from Jen Milius. Jen chose to write about a book that was given to her when she was a teenager by her parents, and that she has subsequently gifted to many young people in her life. Reading her piece, it’s clear that Jen has gotten quite a lot from the book over the years, and also that the book has plenty to offer anyone and everyone. Whether you’re sitting down at your desk for another day of writing, sending your finished work into the wider world, figuring out how to maintain your relationship during a spouse’s military deployment – or, really, doing anything at all – it’s always helpful to keep “a positive and possible mindset.” Any tools and techniques that help you do that are, in a word, invaluable.
Read Jen’s post, and then find out more about her and her work below.
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When Jarrett extended the offer to write about a book (story or poem) that changed my life, I immediately wanted to participate. There are so many pieces that have stayed with me because of the topic or how well the story was told, but the one I have re-read multiple times since first receiving it is The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz. My mom and dad gave me the book when I was in high school. They always told me that I could be whatever I wanted to be, and that your mind believes what you tell it. “You are what you think you are” (Schwartz, 1978, p. 83) is the guiding principle behind the book. It is a profound statement, and depending on what those thoughts are, it can have a positive or negative influence on how you see yourself.
The Magic of Thinking Big influenced me because of the way it stepped through the process of how to broaden one’s thinking. It amplified what my parents would tell me. When I think about how the mind believes what you tell it, then that means that even the smallest thought matters. This book helped me to be more aware of my thoughts and how I articulated them. It reinforced that my language shaped my outlook. When I felt frustrated or initially thought I could not see a way to do something, I would step back, remember that I can do anything that I set my mind to do, and think of a different way to look at the situation. When I had challenges to overcome and I felt like they were more than I could handle, I would read this book to remind myself of what I already knew. It was just the right dose of positive reinforcement. Each time I read the book, I would pick up on little things that may not have resonated a previous time. It was those little things that I would immediately start doing, like making specific changes to my language. When my language changed, my thinking would shift and I would get back on the right track. The Magic of Thinking Big enabled me to realize that it takes the same amount of energy to think negative thoughts as it does to think positive thoughts, so why not choose positive thoughts? I strengthened my ability to focus on solutions and not problems, to focus on the “how” and not always the “why.” Sure, it takes practice and a conscious decision to change directions when thoughts drift to the negative, but it was worth it to me to make that effort.
One of the times when I read The Magic of Thinking Big was during my first deployment as a military wife. My husband and I had been married for only three and half years when he came home from a reserve weekend and shared that he was being called up. The time leading up to and through his deployment was one that relied on love, faith, and inner strength. Prior to experiencing a deployment for myself, I had only heard that they led to divorce, broken relationships, and money issues. Those were not acceptable to me. Thus, in order to have a different experience, I had to ignore the negativity and think about what I wanted and what I would do that aligned with what I desired as an outcome. I focused my thoughts on how I could serve. For instance, I sent weekly care packages full of ready-made and homemade goodies. Although the package did not bring my husband home any faster, each one represented time spent to write letters as well as identify, gather, and assemble the goodies.
I am blessed to have many young people in my life, and The Magic of Thinking Big is one of my favorite gifts for them. Each time I give this book, I tell the recipient about how my parents gave it to me when I was about his or her age and that they have so much to offer because there is only one of them in the whole world with their personality, talents, and experiences. I tell them that this book helped me to think broader and be more aware of how my thoughts guided my perceptions and decisions, which ultimately enabled me to easily and consistently have a positive and possible mindset. I believe that people thrive and blossom with positive reinforcement, and when I give this book, it is one way of doing that.
Schwartz, D. (1978). The Magic of Thinking Big. Prentice-Hall, Inc. (Original work published 1959)
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Jen Milius has enjoyed writing and reading since she was a young girl, leading her to earn her undergraduate degree in Communications. Although her career path has involved intense management skills such as public relations, project management, organization development and continuous improvement, her love for storytelling, animals, and helping people, especially young people, inspired her to write about her two adorable cats, Einstein and Moo. Einstein and the Leaf and Moo and the Case of the Mistaken Identity are the first two books of the Einstein and Moo series. Jen enjoys yoga, pilates, cooking, baking, listening to music, and most of all, spending time with her wonderful husband and stepdaughter.
Check out her website at www.jennifermilius.com, like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/authorJenniferMilius and follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/AuthorJenMilius. For the Einstein and Moo series, like the series Facebook fan site at www.facebook.com/einsteinandmoo and follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/EinsteinAndMoo.
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Want to tell the world about a book (or story, or poem) that changed your life? Comment below or contact me on Twitter to find out more about contributing a guest post.