” For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.”  Proverbs 23:7

” What you think, you become. What you feel, you attract. What you imagine, you create.” Gautama Buddha 

It seems that no matter how many times I reflect on the above truths, I cruise back onto the wrong track of negative thinking… and my mind ends up becoming a temporary train wreck. For some reason the wrong thinking seems right, and the right thinking seems like an unattainable ideal. I want SO badly to paint my world with joyful and fantastic thoughts, but I become temporarily suspended in my small personal universe of dark and foreboding imaginations. When the freight train has passed and it’s time to scoop myself up and begin again, I don’t always have the motivation I need to get myself going.

Recently, a coworker of mine introduced me to the story of Ernestine Shepherd. Ernestine was a 56 year old woman who hadn’t worked out a day in her life. Ernestine and her sister, Velvet, decided to go swimsuit shopping. As they openly laughed at their out-of-shape-physiques, they decided to do something about it. Soon, Ernestine and Velvet were faithfully hitting the gym together. Tragically, it wasn’t long after that Velvet died suddenly of a brain aneurism. Ernestine was devastated and stopped going to the gym. After some time, a friend reminded her of what Velvet and she were seeking to accomplish and encouraged her to continue on with their plan. Ernestine found a renewed motivation and committed herself fully to being the fittest she could be. She is now 80 years old and holds the Guinness World Record for the Oldest Female Body Builder! (http://ernestineshepherd.net/?page_id=2)

Since the day that my coworker escorted Ernestine into my little world, I can’t stop thinking about her. Ernestine’s whole life was changed because she made a decision and completely dedicated herself to sticking with it and seeing it through. It took hard work and committed devotion, but she has seen her goal realized. I’m sure that if I could sit down with Ernestine and have a heart to heart conversation with her, she would  tell me that in order to reach her goal she had to  win the battle in her thoughts first. No one reaches a significant victory in their lives without first persisting in conquering their thought life. And anyone who has faced significant mental battles knows that it takes just as much hard work and dedication to conquer your mind as it does your body or anything else. If I choose to apply even a fraction of the effort to renewing my thoughts that Ernestine applied to her fitness, I could be realizing my goals as well (not to mention all the new fitness goals Ernestine has inspired in me! )

Whether your battle is with your mind or your body commitment, persisistence, and motivation are needed to make progress. If you are finding yourself low on the motivation meter, find a good story like Ernestine’s to spark renewed inspiration in you. Seek out friends who will support you, pray for you, believe in you and cheer you on. Remind yourself that what you meditate on is what you will experience. Above all, commit to always picking yourself up and going at it again — no matter how many times that darn freight train seems to run you down.

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