Excerpt from Commencement Speech – June 2012:
Many of my clients have one terrible habit in common. It’s a life crushing, joy killing, misery producing bad habit. No, it’s not drugs. It’s not booze. It’s not too much TV. This bad habit could destroy your happy life and all your happy dreams. If you don’t become aware of it and start now to take charge of it, it could ruin everything.
This bad habit is simply this…Bad Thinking! And my best advice to you on gaining control over this bad habit is “Stop feeding the Angry Monkeys”
Let me explain!
During a trip I took to Bali, Indonesia I go to Sacred Monkey Forest where dozens of Macaque Monkeys roam free. I know right away what I want. I want to play with the young, playful adolescent monkeys. So I do what all the other tourists are doing …I buy the bananas that are being sold by the local ladies.
As soon as the big male monkeys notice that I have bananas, they storm me. Scare the pants off me. They start grabbing at the bananas… baring their long, sharp, vampire-like fangs. I try to feed them little pieces at a time but they start jumping on me…barking at me…staring me down. One even vaults onto my shoulder and bites me in the back of my neck.
So the next time I go to Monkey Forest I apply the lesson I’ve learned and do not buy the bananas. I realize the only way I’m going to get to have the experience I want – playful, happy, frolicking, joyful – is to not feed the big angry monkeys.
I go over and sit in the middle of rock wall where the cute, adolescent monkeys are chasing each other back and forth. I bring no bananas. They run across my lap as though I am a natural part of the environment. Eventually they park themselves on me. 4 or 5 of them camping out on me…my lap, digging through my hair, on my shoulders. I’m in heaven… thoroughly blissed out. I am now having the experience I intended to have. Blissed out!
But as I sit there, coated in happy monkeys… having one of the peak experiences of my life. I watch the other tourists come through and buy the bananas and have the same nightmare experience that I had at first. I see this one Japanese tourist hurling whole bananas with all his might as the angry herd and running in the other direction, out of the forest in fear for his safety (and his camera).
These tourists buying the bananas and having this unpleasant experience all day long reminded me of some of my coaching clients at the beginning of our work together as they wrestled with and were haunted by their bad thinking…. their angry thoughts barking at their heels, grabbing their attention, demanding, destroying their journey to an enchanted place.
Without realizing it they were feeding their angry, fearful, doubtful, negative, unresourceful thoughts by allowing them to run wild in the forest of their minds.
I don’t want this to happen to you.
Don’t let this happen to you!
As soon as you notice angry, fearful, self-doubting, unresourceful, negative thinking bearing it’s teeth at you…. Stop feeding them!
(Stay tuned for the video recording of this complete unedited speech. In it I tell you how to develop “Good Thinking”.)