“Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
I’ll never forget the first time that I heard these words—I was a 14 year old boy, in a seminar filled with other 14 year old boys. It was my first year of high school. One of the veteran football coaches, who’d played as a linebacker in the NFL, hobbled out; his body was that of a man who’d endured a lifetime of tackles and blows, but there was a distinct sense of purpose, of will, in his walk.
He spoke these words to me and my fellow classmates, in a very serious tone of voice. At the time, I just thought it was a cool quote. It wasn’t until years later that I realized how powerful this idea really was.
There’s a certain rut that people get stuck in—it usually happens when they’re about 30 or 35.
They start to realize that they’ve spent their whole life working in some career that they don’t like, but that pays the bills—and it starts to slowly kill them inside. They look around and aren’t very healthy, don’t have many women, and probably aren’t very happy.
Most people just suck it up and accept their roles as cogs in the machine. They come up with all sorts of justifications as to why they’re wasting their life away, but you don’t buy it. You can see the dead, soulless look in their faces. This is the look of a man who has accepted that his life will amount to nothing.
How does this happen, though? Where does it all start? How do you avoid getting to this place? It all starts with your thoughts. Your thoughts are the foundation which your reality is built upon—and, as you’ll see, if you neglect to change your thoughts, your reality won’t change one bit.
In short, a self-amplifying feedback loop, or a SAFL, is when a certain thought or action causes more of that thought or action to happen, which causes more of that thought or action to happen, which causes more…etc, etc. This is why it’s so hard for people stuck in negativity to change.
When you’re so steeped in negativity, nobody who’s positive wants to be around you, and you consistently draw more negative things into your life. You get “stuck,” so to speak. On the flip side, however, this is also why positivity brings more positivity, into all areas of your life. I’ll elaborate more, but for now remember this: there are positive and negative SAFL’s.
Let me use an example to clarify—if you’re a very positive person, your thoughts will be positive. This will bleed into your life. You’ll gravitate towards others that are positive and your actions will be positive. As you have more positive people in your life, and as you take action to attain your goals, this will make you think even more positively.
These positive thoughts will make it easier to act in a way that is positive.
Because you are grateful for the small $500/month that your business makes, it will be so much easier to keep putting in the work. Because you’re so grateful that you met a sexy girl out at a club some night, it’ll be that much easier to expand your social circle and practice game. Because you’re grateful for getting jacked, you’ll look forward to going to the gym.
All of this will start to change your reality even more—you’ll make more money from your business, you’ll be dating more high quality girls, and you’ll get even more jacked.
This will make it easier to think positively.
These grateful thoughts will make it even easier to continue doing what you’re doing. Why would you not work on your business when you can quit in a year? Why wouldn’t you keep meeting new people and networking when you’ve seen what it can do for your sex and social lives? Why wouldn’t you keep working out when you’re starting to see a six pack?
Do you see the point? It’s self-amplifying. Your thoughts create your reality, which create your thoughts, which create your reality, and so on…
The bad news, however, is that most people are stuck in a negative version of this.
Even in the exact same situation, most people would get stuck in a negative SAFL, because they’re so used to negativity that it’s almost impossible for them to break it:
And like that, a negative SAFL has been started. Rather than focusing on the positive, in this example, only the negatives are highlighted.
It will be harder to work on your business, to go out and expand your social circle, and to spend time at the gym, because you’re only looking at the negative side of things. So, you won’t work as hard as your business, you won’t go out and practice game, and you won’t spend time at the gym. This will cause your progress to slip, which will only confirm your negative beliefs:
This will make it even easier to take less action, which will eventually spiral out of control until you’re not taking any action AT ALL to improve yourself.
Soon enough, you’ll stop working on your business, you’ll stop going out, and you won’t hit the gym anymore. You’ll live your life in a haze, always making excuses and looking at the downside of things, until you die alone and broke. But remember that it all starts with your thoughts.
Notice how the SAFL’S start to take effect with Jon and Jerry in the next section—this is how a SAFL affects someone over the long term.
“I don’t want to go to the gym, today,” Jerry thought. “I’m tired,” he thought to himself as he drove home.
Jerry, like Jon, just graduated from college—they’re 22 year old men who both have a demanding job working for an IT company. But, the difference is that Jon has better control over his thoughts. He knows that if you view something positively, it will be much easier to do.
“I can’t wait to workout today,” Jon thought to himself as he was driving home. “Work was so stressful, I need a way to let out some steam. Plus there will be tons of sexy girls in the hot tub afterwards!”
Jerry gets home, plops onto his couch, and resumes where he left off in his latest Netflix binge-watch. Jon gets home, grabs his duffel bag, and heads to the gym.
This may not seem like much, but as I discussed in my article on the Slight Edge, small changes every day compound over time to create massive changes. If you neglect your body today, it will be weaker tomorrow. It will be that much easier to skip the gym again, because you’ve already done it.
Without even realizing it, Jon and Jerry are both in the process of creating a habit. And unfortunately for Jerry, he’s creating a negative one. The next day they go into work, and Jon’s thoughts, which are positive, naturally come out when he speaks. He has control over his mind, so all of his words are a reflection of the deep sense of confidence and positivity that lies within.
Jerry, on the other hand, often has very apathetic thoughts; he always seems to look at the glass as being half empty. So what do you think his words sound like? They’re probably very negative.
Both Jon and Jerry just got this new job—and they’re starting to create social circles around their work. Jon naturally gravitates towards the people who also think positively; he doesn’t like being around people who speak negative words, because they bring the mood down.
He starts to make friends with some of the guys who hit the gym regularly, go out to bars, and are killing life in general. “Wow!” Jon thinks. “This is awesome, I’m surrounded by like-minded men who will help me improve myself.”
Jerry, on the other hand, loves it when people complain. “Did you hear about that new dress code policy? What the fuck, that’s so stupid,” he spits out in the middle of their employee lunch break. Some of the more positive employees ignore him, including Jon—but one guy bites back. “Yeah, dude I hate it here. It’s so dumb.” Jerry has just made his first negative friend.
They talk about all kinds of negative bullshit now—how their boss is a bitch, how the weather sucks, how they aren’t making enough money. But do you know what it all boils down to? A negative mindset. Jerry’s negative thoughts literally changed his reality—they drew him closer to this other negative man, so that they can both wallow in their own self-pity and anger.
Jon, on the other hand, always speaks kindly and positively. Rather than bitching and complaining about things he can’t change, he focuses on what he can change.
“Hey, did you hear about that new bar that’s opening up downtown? Sounds pretty awesome to me,” says Jon. “Yeah, man—we should go some time! I was talking with the girls over in HR and they told me one of them has a crush on you. Let’s invite them the next time we go out.”
Just like that, Jon has already made friends with one of the more positive guys at work, AND he’s got a potential girl to date or sleep with. All of this, just from having a different mindset than Jerry.
“Did you hear that we’re going to be having another presentation tomorrow?” Jerry spat. “Fuck this dude, that’s the second one this week!” “Yeah, I know man it pisses me off. We should just skip it—I don’t think our boss would care,” says Jerry’s friend. Uh oh.
Jerry and his newfound friend decided to skip the presentation—and like they said, their boss doesn’t care that much. “We should do this more often, man,” Jerry said as he sat on his couch eating celery sticks and playing Xbox.
“Why are you eating those, dude? Don’t you have any Doritos?” Jerry’s friend asks. “Uhh no man, I usually eat healthy, but-” His friend interrupts him: “Dude that’s stupid, celery is so gross; let’s stop by 7-11 and get some food.”
And like that, Jerry’s friend starts to negatively influence him. He’s pushing Jerry to let go of a positive habit, and to form a negative one. “Ehh, I guess it won’t hurt just once,” Jerry says to himself. He goes to the 7-11 and has a hot dog, a bag of chips, and a coke.
Jon on the other hand, gets off of work and gets ready to go out. “I’ll meet you guys at the club!” he shouts to his buddies as he gets off of work. “Okay, let’s go to the gym and then go clubbing,” Jon says to himself. Because Jon has learned how to be decisive, he doesn’t waste time going back and forth and agonizing over decisions. He just decides that he’s going to hit the gym and go clubbing.
He hits the gym, goes home and eats, showers, changes, and hurries to the club—he’s got endorphins and healthy nutrients rushing around in his bloodstream, pumping his mood up. He gets to the club, has an awesome time, and ends up sleeping with that pretty girl from HR who had a crush on him.
“Wow, I should do this more often!” he thinks, as he’s lying in bed next to a blonde beauty. Already, he’s in the positive SAFL. Positive rewards turn his actions into habits.
Jerry starts hanging out with his negative friend more and more, and soon enough he’s stopped eating healthy. He now spends most of his time going to work and playing Xbox when he gets home. Maybe he starts drinking, too. It all starts with the same bullshit: “Oh, I’ll just have one glass, just to relax!” but by now you should know what’s actually going to happen.
Note—this isn’t to say that you actually can’t do anything fun, but the key is to actually mean it when you say “just this once,” or “only one time.”
And if you screw up and fall into a bad habit? That’s okay—but just FIX IT as soon as possible. I still have fun on the weekends, I drink occasionally, and have cheat days occasionally. But the goal is to actually fucking mean it when you say “just once in a while.”
Ever notice how fat people say things like “It’s okay to cheat once in a while,” but by once in a while they mean “every meal of the day”? Yeah, we want to avoid this. That was kind of a random rant, but anyways, back to our story.
Jerry starts to develop some bad habits:
Jon, on the other hand, develops some positive habits:
Who do you think is happier? Jon, obviously. Jerry probably looks at Jon and puts him down, though. He probably comes up with a ton of excuses and reasons why Jon is a loser. “Wow, what a try hard,” Jerry says. Or, “Wow, he’s so shallow…at the gym all the time,” Jerry says. Bitch, please. We all know that Jerry is just jealous.
Jon doesn’t care, though—he just keeps on doing what he’s doing. As Jon becomes lodged into a positive SAFL, everything in his life improves. He’s got a gorgeous girlfriend who goes out and helps him pull threesomes, he’s got a killer body, and he’s started building his own consulting business so that he can quit his job eventually.
Jerry, on the other hand, is stuck in a negative SAFL. Everything in his life just gets worse and worse. His health deteriorates, his brain becomes foggy, and he has less and less money. And, remember—it all started with their thoughts. Jon’s thoughts were positive, and Jerry’s were negative.
Now, Jon and Jerry’s thoughts have influenced their words, which have influenced their actions, which have influenced their habits. And now, their habits are starting to create their character.
Jon is starting to develop good character traits:
Jerry is starting to develop bad character traits:
This only cements their differing SAFL’s, as well—once you get to the point where you’ve developed character traits, it is very hard to undo. It can be done, but try not to get to this point. If you notice a negative thought or action, nip it in the bud. Stop it right then and there, before it grows into a habit.
Once you develop a positive character, you start to create firm boundaries to protect it. Once you develop a negative character, it becomes harder and harder to create boundaries. Boundaries are important, because they set up a fortress around your life. Let’s delve into our example to clarify this.
Jerry’s friend comes over one night, unexpectedly. Jerry doesn’t really want to hang out, because he’s sick and tired, so he tells his friend to “Leave me alone,” but his friend doesn’t listen. “Nahh man, I’ve got some 40’s come on dude, let’s chill!”
Jerry caves. “Ahh whatever.” He has such low self-esteem and such a lack of will-power that even telling someone to go away becomes a monumental task. Do you know what Jon would do if this happened to him? He would’ve said a firm “no,” because he realizes that you need firm boundaries to succeed.
“Sorry man, not tonight,” says Jon. He values his health and well-being more than getting drunk with his friend. He realizes that it’s irresponsible, to get fucked up when you’re sick, so he doesn’t do it.
And if his “friend” kept pestering him he would stop all communication with that man. Why wouldn’t he? If someone doesn’t even respect you enough to adhere to your boundaries, they aren’t your friend.
This will further create their characters—as Jon sets up more and more boundaries, he’ll become even more confident in his ability to succeed. His self-image will become sky-high, he’ll have massive confidence, and he’ll feel like a fucking conqueror.
Jerry on the other hand? His self-esteem will plummet, because he doesn’t have any real friends and he constantly sacrifices his own wishes based on the whims of others. This will create their destinies, and as you’ll see, Jerry’s is far worse than Jon’s.
Jon’s destiny is to be a jacked, rich, happy man, who’s banging new hotties every week while he’s traveling across Europe taking it easy. His destiny is to live a life that is fulfilling and gratifying, and to develop connections that will last a lifetime. He will die a happy man, surrounded by friends and family (after he settles down, of course).
Jerry’s destiny is to be a fat, poor, depressed man, who wastes his life away in his basement playing video games and complaining about everything. He probably won’t ever get married, let alone find a girlfriend, but if he does, he’ll marry some ugly girl who doesn’t really like him and just wants someone to leech off of. He’ll die alone, wishing he’d made a change.
Don’t be like Jerry.
What path are you on in life right now? Are you satisfied with your life? Are you earning enough money? Do you have enough relationships and women in your life? If not, it’s time for a change.
The whole point of this article was to show you the impact of your thoughts. If you want to change your destiny, you first have to change your thoughts. So, how do you do this? It isn’t easy, but here are some steps that you can take RIGHT NOW to start changing your thoughts, and by extent, your destiny:
The change won’t happen overnight, and you may find that some people in your life resist your attempts to change. This is fine.
Just continue improving yourself, and your life. It’s that simple. Just make the commitment to do it for yourself, and fucking do it. I hope that you guys enjoyed the article, and as always, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, let me know. I’ll see you next time.
Jon Anthony is a dating coach, fitness expert, and self-improvement guru. He dropped out of college to start Masculine Development in 2015, and has since been self-employed, helping men across the world achieve their best lives. You can best reach him on social media, or via email for questions.