A mentor of mine once described to me an idea that I found extremely valuable. He called it The Mental Thermostat. The thermostat has a high and a low, a maximum and minimum, and our thermostat dictates every aspect of our lives. Here’s an example: My mental perception of being “on time” is no later that 5-20 minutes early. Typically, I won’t be showing up much earlier than 20 minutes (maximum), but I’ll never be any later than 5 minutes early (minimum). That is where my thermostat is “set” when I’m making sure I’m “on time” for an appointment.
Take a moment to see where you can apply the thermostat in your life. A few more examples might be:
- I like to shower everyday, but I typically don’t skip more than two.
- I try to watch my favorite tv show once a week, but not more than twice.
- I don’t usually have dairy in my diet, but on “special occasions” like birthdays and weddings, I allow myself a treat.
- I like to have a few thousand dollars in my savings account, but I don’t mind putting one high priced item, on credit, at a time.
The idea is to adjust the range of our thermostats in areas that would benefits us. There are typically two ways this can happen:
- Creating new habits. If being “on time” means walking in the door five minutes late, a person can reset their thermostat by leaving ten minutes early, changing their clocks, waking up early, etc… Whatever it takes to create a new habit. Over time the thermostat will increase or change in their favor.
- An extreme emotional experience. A good example of this would be: a smoker who smokes a pack of cigarettes a day has tried to quit on and off for 5 years. One day he is hospitalized for a heart attack and the doctor informed him if he did not quit smoking, he would risk losing his life should he have another heart attack. The smoker never smoked a single cigarette from that day forward.
While I’m not saying go out there and do something extremely traumatizing, the common trend between these two approaches is just perception. Ultimately, you can just make a choice and change, or even let go of the mental thermostat altogether.
What areas of your life can you improve by choosing a new perception and adjusting your thermostat? Your health, your finances, your patience..? I hope you may find value and success in these thoughts, as I have.