I would like to share with you a concise version of a formula for personal growth that I developed over time. The formula is: "G.T.S.S.= BRAIN. Upgrade your BRAIN and you upgrade your G.T.S.S."
G = GOALS:
Every day think about your goals. We all have a life mission. This is our ultimate goal. And then we have many specific goal, some major, some minor. Write down your main goals. This itself is a strong motivator to reach them. What are your goals for accomplishment? What are your spiritual goals? In what important areas do you still need to clarify your goals? What goals would you like to have if you knew that you would reach them?
T = TRAITS:
The Torah commandment to develop our character is derived from the verse, "And walk in the Almighty’s ways" (Deuteronomy 28:9). In his classic legal work Yad Hachazakah, Maimonides elaborates on this. There he writes that human beings are all different from each other when it comes to their character traits, and he mentions various traits to work on and how to do so. This is a lifetime process that necessitates inner strength and wisdom. The joy of mitzvot is an important ingredient for the entire process. What positive traits would you personally like to refine and develop?
S = STATES:
There are two categories of states: positive and resourceful states, and negative and unresourceful states. Some of the positive states we want to master are: joy, courage, patience, serenity, enthusiasm, and flowing empowerment. Some unresourceful states that we want to decrease are: anxiety, anger, frustration, needless sadness, and being overwhelmed or stuck.
In my recently recorded seminar: "Creating the states you want: more joy, less distress," I have elaborated on this. One tool that I highly recommend is to give unique names for your positive, inspired, creative, joyful, empowered moments. They are all states that you have stored in your brain. By giving your best states names, you will find it easier to access them again and again whenever you need them.
S = SELF-IMAGE:
Your self-image creates you. The Torah view of who you are is that you are a child of the Almighty and have infinite worth. Identify yourself with your strengths. Every positive act you have done already and will do in the future is part of your identity. By realizing this, you will keep upgrading your sense of who you are.
Now for the second half of the formula: G.T.S.S.= BRAIN. BRAIN is an acronym standing for: Beliefs, Right way, Action, Imagination, and Now.
BELIEFS: Your beliefs (thoughts, attitudes, perspectives, cognitions, frames) about yourself, other people, life, events and situations create your reactions. Believe that the Almighty will help you reach your worthwhile goals and will help you refine and elevate your character. Believe that events and situations are for your benefit and that you can grow from each experience.
RIGHT WAY: Go in the right direction and do things the right way. Go towards joy, serenity, courage, patience, and empowerment. This gets you there faster than going away from anger, frustration, fear sadness, anxiety and other unresourceful traits and states.
ACTION: Only by taking action will you actually reach goals, refine your positive traits, and master resourceful states. Without action, you can make a goal to save the world, but you won’t get anywhere. Action to help one person will accomplish more.
IMAGINATION: Visualize yourself being the way you wish to be. Mentally see yourself reaching great goals and upgrading your traits and states. With repetition, these mental pictures become your reality. You can even upgrade the past by seeing yourself retroactively speaking and acting the way you would have wished.
NOW: Be in the present. The present is your only reality. By making wise choices of thoughts, words, and actions in the present, you move towards reaching your goals and developing character traits. All states are experienced in the present. This very moment you can choose to create or access such positive, elevated states such as joy, serenity, courage, self-mastery, and creativity.
And the final part of the formula: Keep upgrading your BRAIN (your Beliefs, Right way, Actions, Imagination, and being in the Now) and you will upgrade your G.T.S.S. -- your goals, traits, states and self-image. This will keep us busy for the rest of our lives. Doing this joyfully and serenely will give us a joyful and serene life.