Monkey See Monkey Do – How do we become who we never thought we could be?

What you fix your mind on and determine to do will become who you are! 

Paul tells the church of Philippi to “FIX” their thoughts on what is ” true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable.”  And to “Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” This has often been my go to verse when I need to get myself off an old negative thinking tape and back on the right track.

But after reading this verse many times before, this time I saw something new.

In the very next verse Paul encourages them to “keep putting into practice all you have learned…everything you have heard from me and saw me doing. THEN the God of peace will be with you (Philippians 4: 8-9, emphasis mine).

So here you have Paul in prison telling those who are outside the four walls of his dark cell to Fix their thoughts on what is worthy of praise. He says do what you see me doing even in my darkest moment stuck here in a prison cell. Paul said he realized how to be content in all circumstances…whether he was full or hungry, whether he had much or little.

I am always drawn to people who push through and remain who they are no matter what circumstance surrounds them. How did Paul do it? His model was Jesus. He knew who he was through knowing Jesus intimately and he never forgot what he was doing it for. Once you know the “Who” God created you to be – no circumstance can change that.

Paul tells them what you know to be good and right and true KEEP doing it. KEEP at it. PRACTICE what you have learned and THEN peace will come.  Even in the trial, the dark  moments of our lives, we can feel peace if we maintain our focus on the good and not the evil around us.

I think we lose peace when we lose sight. When we allow our circumstances to lie to us and make us forget who we really are and what we were placed here to do, we lose our PEACE.

The problem is we hear, we see,  and if we are really inspired and motivated we do it once or twice. BUT we don’t keep at it long enough for it to become a part of us – for it to become who we are. And we especially don’t keep at it when the going gets tough. We allow excuses to take over and we listen to the wrong messages. The messages that direct us far from who we want to become.

I thought about the old phrase “monkey see monkey do” and became curious. I wanted to know how people train monkeys to do human tasks – tasks that are unnatural for them. Of course these days you can find a video on everything. So I saw how people in Thailand were training monkeys to pick coconuts.

The very first step in training a monkey to pick a coconut was not what you might think. The first thing they did was have the monkey watch a human spin and touch a coconut. The monkey struggled to be held against his will and clearly did not want to be there. But over and over the monkey watched and took it all in.

The next thing the trainer did was put his hand on the coconut with the monkey and began to spin the coconut together. The monkey resisted at first not understanding what he was being asked to do. But by the end he was spinning the coconut like a pro all on his own. When the monkey had mastered being comfortable with handling the coconut, the trainers set up low hanging coconuts to practice on. He struggled to break the coconuts free and then with each success he grew more and more confident. Now he was ready for the real deal. Swinging from tree to tree and breaking the coconuts free. By the end of the monkey’s training, he was able to pick 500 plus coconuts a day.

Are you seeing a pattern, yet? The monkey watched then he did. The monkey grew one step at a time, struggling to master each new task. He got good at the basics then became great at his trade. The problem is we see others who are at the top of their game and not when they were struggling to get there. We feel down on ourselves because we aren’t where they are and doing what they are doing. But are we willing to keep at it- no matter what the cost? No matter how much we struggle?

How do we become the person that seems so out of reach for us? How do we accomplish what is unnatural for us? Monkeys weren’t born to be coconut pickers. If they can learn to do something completely out of the norm, can’t we?

Les Brown is a motivational speaker whose life wasn’t always so motivational. He recounts the many struggles he had to overcome to get to the “Les” we see today. I love his story of refusing to accept a no and spending countless hours and time learning, growing, and intentionally putting in his mind the messages that would help him reach his goals. He said “I was HUNGRY! People that are hungry are willing to do the things today others won’t do in order to have the things tomorrow that others won’t have.”

The thing about Les is he chose his mentors wisely. He found people who were living the dream he had in his heart and watched and watched and watched some more. He soaked it in and intentionally chose the messages he listened to. His mentor once told him “You must program yourself to succeed.” He instructed Les to read 10-15 pages of something positive every day because “faith comes by hearing and hearing and hearing”.

I find I have to continually fill myself with truth or else the negative begins to creep its way back in. Yesterday, wasn’t a good day. I struggled to see the purpose in the countless hours I am putting towards the dream in my heart. I couldn’t even motivate myself to write this blog. But this morning I woke up determine to throw out the old tapes that make me think small and intentionally put the right message in my heart. And I began to write…

What old tapes do you need to throw out so you can make room for the right messages? Messages that will encourage you to become the “WHO” you never thought you could be? Graham Cooke says, “What we focus on we empower.” What are you empowering in your life? Will what you are empowering help you become the “You” – you are dreaming of? If not, I suggest you choose your mentors and messages more wisely!

Be Blessed ~ Be a LIGHT!

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