As 2018 kicks off, I have found myself doing quite a bit of self-reflection on the past year of my life. And without a doubt, one of the most influential decisions I made was to pick up a book. This book was written in 1937 by Napoleon Hill and it reveals the secrets of lasting health, wealth and happiness. The book is called Think and Grow Rich and the story behind it is a fascinating one.
At the age of 25 while working as a journalist, Napoleon Hill was given an assignment to write a series of articles on success and was granted a three-hour interview with the world’s richest man, Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie was the head of U.S. Steel and a philanthropist who gave over 90% of his fortune away during the final 18 years of his life.
After the interview, Hill was extremely pleased with the result and thanked Carnegie for his time. Carnegie smiled and said “no son, the interview is just getting started” and invited him back to his mansion.
During their continued discussions at his home, Carnegie lamented the fact that most people seemed to spend their entire lives searching for success when the blueprint was already laid out. He believed it was a tragedy that the world’s most successful people go to their graves with their seemingly infinite wisdom locked inside them.
After three full days of insightful dialogue, Carnegie held a stopwatch underneath the table and asked young Hill the following question. “Would you be willing to commit the rest of your life to an idea, that will likely not provide you compensation for many years, but will completely transform you and everyone you touch?” Carnegie secretly gave Hill one minute to respond.
Completely inspired, Hill emphatically said yes, with 50 seconds to spare.
“Well,” Carnegie said “I happen to know the most successful men and women on this planet and can connect you to them. I want you to discover the greatest qualities from each these people and publish a formula for success.”
Napoleon Hill spent the next 25 years of his life interviewing Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Theodore Roosevelt, John D. Rockefeller, Henry Ford and hundreds of other extraordinary people in order to write his book, Think and Grow Rich.
The Power Of Thought
While I have many takeaways from this book, I’ll give you the one that has changed my life. Whether it’s health, wealth or happiness, the key to success in anything in life is simple really.
Change your thoughts.
You see, our minds are much more powerful than we realize. Every time you have a thought, the brain shoots neurotransmitters across its synapses to pass the message from cell to cell. The more you think a certain way, the easier it becomes for those synapses to connect and the more likely you are to have those thoughts again in the future.
And science is showing us that thinking (positively or negatively) can literally change our biochemistry.
In 1964 after a very difficult year that ended with a stressful and unsuccessful business trip to Russia, Norman Cousins was diagnosed with a degenerative disease known as Ankylosing Spondylitis. The disease left him in tremendous pain and he was told by doctors he had just a few months to live as the blood flow to his limbs and organs was declining dramatically.
Completely devastated by the news, Cousins spent weeks of sleepless nights at the hospital in deep self-reflection and ultimately came up with a theory. If there was any relationship between his toxic emotions and the toxicity in his body, then perhaps positive emotions would help him feel better.
With his doctor’s permission, he left the hospital and checked himself into a hotel room across the street where he continuously watched his favorite comedy films to boost his mood, inducing overwhelmingly positive thoughts and emotions.
After a few weeks, his condition magically started to improve and he slowly regained the use of his limbs without the use of medication. Within six months he was back on his feet. Within two years he was back at work with an overwhelmingly positive mental attitude.
Norman Cousins defied the odds and ended up living long and healthy life. He claimed that just ten minutes of belly laughter would give him two hours of pain free sleep. Miraculous cases like these happen every single day.
Change Your Beliefs
As human beings, we have complete control over our thoughts, which gives us the ability to have complete control over our beliefs, and ultimately our lives. With this power, Think and Grow Rich tells us to expand what we think is possible.
Norman Cousins believed it was possible to cure his illness through the power of laughter, even though his doctors gave him a grim death sentence.
How am I using this power? It starts with my financial goals – to grow my net worth to a point where money will never be a source of worry or stress in my life and to retire from mandatory work decades before my peers.
Here’s the thing. I will do it.
Do I know anyone personally that has retired by the age of 40? No I don’t. But that’s simply because we are all conditioned to think that we have to work until we are old and we act accordingly.
We are conditioned to believe that going into debt is perfectly healthy, that you need a massive home, that you need a bunch of new fancy things to remain satisfied. We are conditioned to focus on what we don’t have. We are conditioned to spend our hard-earned income now instead of investing it in our future freedom and well-being.
All I am doing is thinking differently, and thinking bigger.
I will achieve my lofty financial goals because I have simply shifted my paradigm to believe it is possible. I was not even aware that retiring early was a possibility for the majority of my life, but by expanding my thinking and truly believing these thoughts with every cell in my body, there is no doubt in my mind I will get there.
With that mindset, and by living in accordance to what I have outlined in this playbook, success is a foregone conclusion.
Will it be smooth sailing? Truthfully, I hope not. Because the journey is what makes life rich and meaningful, not the destination.
No matter where we are in life right now, we all can achieve financial security. We all can increase our savings rates to “crazy” levels while becoming even happier in the process by living simpler lives. And we all can prosper not only financially, but in all areas of life by changing how we think and redefining what is possible within us.
Will it magically happen on its own? Of course not. You’ll need to put in the work. But every single one of us has the power to do it. And it all starts with a beautifully simple change in mindset.
So take a moment to really think about your life goals.
Now what happens if you expand your mind and dream even bigger?
Don’t resist it, embrace it.
Design a life you would love to live and make it happen. Take control of your future, starting today.
“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” – Napoleon Hill
Think and grow rich.