Your Mind and your Life: An Educational, Personal cum Religious Underpinnings
Today, many persons are fighting an imaginary war. Many believe their problems have spiritual backings and so, start a war that exists only in their mindset. A student can also believe that his/her poor performance is caused by some forces and may begin to pray harder instead of changing reading practices or his/her entire academic lifestyle. They seemed not to understand the power of the mind in all of these. Therefore, this paper on “I have made up my mind! Your mind and your life: An educational, personal cum religious underpinnings” was written with the sole aim of enlightening those fighting non-existent wars of the power of the mind and how the mind can achieve virtually anything we want in life. It was recommended amongst others that students facing academic challenges should research into their challenge and act accordingly. Using the prayer approach will not solve SOME cases.
Keywords: Mind, Life, Education, Personal, Religious, Graduates
I want to appreciate Mr. Efetobor Apochi from whom some of these ideas were drawn/lifted.
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Michael Oghenenyoreme Jules
Vocational Business Educator, Admissions and UTME Nigeria
This paper is a discursive one aimed at interacting with my audience as though we are sitting face to face. Accordingly it is highly informal. This paper was necessitated as a consequence of how our society failed because our mind had failed. The paper also linked the mind, your academic life, your achievements and religion together, all unified by the power of your mindset. So if you think you failed, your mindset had earlier failed. This is because as the author believed, even in failure, a mindset of success could still be conceived, unless otherwise, your mindset had been conquered. This paper looked into the mindset people carry as it regards their personal, religious and academic life. The following topic will define the concept of the mind.
The Concept of the Mind
The mind has been defined as a set of cognitive faculties including consciousness, perception, thinking, judgment, language and memory. It is usually defined as the faculty of an entity’s thoughts and consciousness (Oxford Dictionary, online). Wikipedia (online) however, noted that the mind holds the power of imagination, recognition, and appreciation, and is responsible for processing feelings and emotions, resulting in attitudes and actions. The mind is the seat of consciousness, the essence of your being. Without a mind, you cannot be considered meaningfully alive (Goldhill, 2016).
Previously in the office, a client making preparations to go on to National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), a Nigerian compulsory community service for all graduates in Nigeria, made the following statement, “employment will not be difficult for me because God exist”. This paper was based on my reply to him and it is mostly based on our mindset.
One thing that has continued to limit us especially Africans is our mindset especially as Christians. Maybe, the way we believe in God is overwhelmingly inconsistent. So, you see a typical Nigerian Christian praying one prayer for decades “burn them with fire, burn them with fire…” but unfortunately, I haven’t seen God burn anyone with fire, even the ones I read in the bible was not consequent upon their prayers. So, you prayed one prayer for years without result, yet, your mindset have not changed. It is not true that God does not exist that is why your prayers are not being heard, it is only true that our mindset was wrongly founded upon non-essentials.
Allow me to borrow the words of my very good friend, Efetobor Apochi in his Facebook post, that “the mind is the centre of creation, it creates the things you see, think or feel and most likely, your environment is a powerful reflector”. In buttressing the points of Apochi, look at your own environment. In some people’s yard, the compound is very dirty, they do not sweep, no flowers, no design. This is not caused by poverty, it is caused by poor, dead or dirty mindset. Even in some person’s sitting room, they live indiscriminate lives. Some persons will get home, pull their clothes and drop it in the chair, that is just a mindset… very poor mindset.
But alas! On the other hand, we have those who are very meticulous, when you get to their compounds, you easily identify that someone special, not necessarily rich lives there. They are very meticulous, the flowers are well trimmed, yard well swept, area well designed and so on. Going inside their sitting room and bedrooms, you see that they live very good lives. May not be rich though but decent. All are evolutions from the mind. Their lives are just the outplay of their minds. A person with dirty/poor mindset cannot be a good person neither can someone with a good mindset be a bad person. Here, let us take a look at the personal, religious and academic implications of our mindset.
The Mindset and the Graduate
This brings me back to the matter above. A graduate believes that under the current economic situation in Nigeria with rising unemployment, employment will not be difficult for him because “God exist”. You see? I see this as a killing mindset. A mindset that will plunge him into economic difficulty. But I thought God was existing before millions are currently unemployed? Or you mean those millions are not good Christians? It is this poor mental state that kills the growth and development of the fresh graduate. As an undergraduate, there is a whole lot of concepts that lies in your mind that you needed to build on to benefit society that you have refused to develop. You have sat on those ideas, waiting to work to build another man’s ideas. This, in essence means you are enslaving yourself by yourself. You have to free yourself from yourself. The employment you so desire is someone else’s business. Being petroleum business, marketing, management, medical, etc, they are all someone’s business. So, you create a business and in turn, create jobs. Now, aside top managers in big organizations, you can’t even get rich doing jobs.
As a graduate, especially those without connections, you should carry the mindset that jobs are non-existent. This mindset will engender you to build on other plans that will yield results. Check out those who are on the waiting list for employment, they have always regretted spending monies on searching for jobs. All the resources so expended, if put into a good venture, would have helped them to hold on to something profitable. Employment may even come easily later, but you will be very grateful to yourself that you then have your own empire. Except for those at the top, I see employment for young graduate as a venture that suppresses your innate power, the power to conceptualize, create, build and develop society. Everything is in the mind.
The mind is so powerful that everything you wish for, you can almost get, provided you work and “wait on it”. That is why anyone who wants to subject you subjects your mindset first. Once your mindset has been successfully subjected, your physical appearance does not matter again. Your brain no longer counts because your mindset has adopted and believed in one thing. Take the colonial masters for instance. They first made us believed that our system was not developed and thus, primitive. After our mindset has adopted this theory, they brought their own culture for us. That is why we now use their names, products, etc. Else, there were supposed to be certain developments and technologies that would have emanated from our local communities, but thy killed all that through our mindset. Conveniently, it is now settled that the white is superior, however, it is just in the mindset of man, never in reality.
Have you ever seen a doctor examining an aged patient? Sometimes, doctors realize that the pain the aged patient is complaining only exist in the mind. So, the doctor prescribes water and rest for the patient. Also, observe some aged parents, they take one particular drug most times of their lives. And surprisingly, it cures most of their sicknesses though the drug was not originally meant to cure some of those illnesses. For my father in his early 90s, Flagyl has always been his main drug. Whoever complains of headache, stomach ache etc. in the house will have to pass through the gates of Flagyl because in his mentality, Flagyl cures all things and answereth all requests. It works well for him though, so he thinks it will work for everyone. It is all in the mentality. The mind is very powerful. Even some religious persons today uses this mental power but translates it religiously.
So, as a graduate, if you carry the mentality of searching for job, so it will be for you. If you bear the mindset to venture, then venture it is. No matter which side of the bargain you find yourself, you must be determined to get through it.
The Mindset and Religion
Religion has been an instrument for societal correction. Karl Marx referred to this as “the opium of the people”. This is to say where man has gone wrong, society then use religion to bring man back to morality. Religion too has been used to bring man back to God where he has deviated. Unfortunately, religion has often been misconceived. Today, religious practitioners see everything from a spiritual point of view. This is very wrong. Anyone unemployed will believe it is an attack from the devil/enemy. Anyone in poor health believes it was caused by the devil/enemy. In fact, religious actors have attributed all happenings to have spiritual underpinnings, thus, spiritualism is used to solve most physical challenges that have physical cure/remedy, an approach that have failed over time. No one ever cared about the overwhelming influence of poor economy on unemployment, no, the devil have to be dragged in.
In his structural functionalism debate regarding organized religion, Marx maintained the view that religion practice certain functions in society similar to the functions of opium especially when someone is injured or sick. According to Marx, these practices reduce people’s immediate suffering and provided them with pleasant illusions which gave them the strength to carry on. Marx also saw religion as harmful, as it prevents people from seeing the class structure and oppression around them, thus religion can prevent the necessary revolution. Carrying these mental illusions blinds many Christians from the real deal – the actual life.
That is why Christians use their leaders’ posters as security to protect themselves, while these leaders in turn, utilizes the services of military personnel to protect themselves. Everything is just a mindset. They have to kill your mindset first, then, anything they tell you goes. Even when someone shows you something truthful from the bible against what you have been told, you will never want to listen to it again, because your mind is “made up”. Even as sick patients, Christians use prayers as first point of call instead of treatment, then grace. Many had died in the process, claiming they died out of lack of faith. Using the wrong approach in tackling our challenges always prolongs our suffering and so, man has continued to suffer as a consequence of poor mindset.
Let me give you an example of how some problems stays long because of wrong approach in tackling them. At a time around 2015, I noticed having heart complications (inability to breathe freely). It was hard for my doctor to trace the problem since I was not an asthmatic patient before. At the end, after several tests and testing of different drugs, we came to some set of drugs that remedied the situation.
This occurred thrice. And on the third time (around 2016), a year later, I was able to link the problem to my bedroom in the village. During this time, I was in the room, and I noticed that inside the room, I could not breathe properly. But when I go to the main sitting room, my deep breathe will be restored. To be doubly sure, I tried it again, went back to my room, stayed a while, and the short breathe started coming back with noticeable wheezing. Guess what? I was right. The room happened to be the problem. But why is my room making me have heart complications? This was the question I wanted to find answers to.
My room in question here, I have built it independently from the main house with just a back door linked to the sitting room. It was well designed with all the necessary details to allow for an independent living off the main house. Everything seemed to be nice and good, well kept. But where is the problem coming from? At a mere glance of the issue at hand, there is no other answer than a spiritual attack. By now, friends, brothers and sisters amongst others have suggested witchcraft to be at work. But my social mindset did not really drag witchery into my problems. I had maintained a social mindset all my life that it was very possible to dismiss any argument that those spiritual stuff even exist if not for my understanding of their existence. Despite the many suggestions, I started looking for the problem inside my house. Some even said something was planted inside the house to keep me away from my parents since it wasn’t killing me (truly I felt so for a while). But the major problem was brought to light when I went back to the city and had a visit with my doctor.
My doctor had been transferred and I was treated by another doctor who erroneously diagnosed me of asthma. All my efforts to school him proved abortive and had to acquiesce since he said “you are in the denial stage” – meaning when a patient is newly diagnosed of a strange and unwanted illness, he is likely to deny initially until he/she settles for reality. I just saw him as one of those unprofessional doctors and followed his bid without further argument. Of course, “what’s gonna be gonna be… and what goes up” has always …“come down”. After purchasing the drugs he prescribed (all supposedly to waste money – to me though), I went back to the pharmacist and explained the drugs the previous doctor gave to me which were very effective. I got them and believe me, those were the drugs I used. I shouldn’t die for wrong prescriptions. If I had argued with him, he may feel I know too much, so, I had to do my mind backdoors. During the early stage of trying to understand my new health situation, I had used the drugs from an asthmatic friend who also believed that since I am exhibiting same symptoms as hers, I might be suffering from asthma. But her drugs she offered me did not work – a clear indication that my problem wasn’t really asthmatic. So, I was very convinced that “my case” was truly “different”.
So, while a certain nurse was administering my injections prescribed by my new doctor, she started telling me stories. Her stories were as a result of my denial that I am still not asthmatic. She claimed that I might have been exposed to a smell, breeze, dust or some other exciting circumstances. She made herself as an example. That when she visited her mum in the village, she had to open the curtains which had been in one place for months if not years. She claimed that the smell from the curtains excited her organs and started having short breathe. She was diagnosed of asthma, but later turned out to be wrong diagnosis. This she cured over a period of time. Immediately, I said to her, “that is my problem”. Allergy to a smell from my room. This marked the beginning of a new understanding.
I had left my apartment in the village and would only visit on weekends or say once in a while. Sliding all doors and windows closed, the room developed some kind of smell only found in abandoned homes, this time, very strong but not offensive. When I visited again, I did more than the usual cleaning by giving extra money to the boys to take out the rug and bed and wash them all. Both walls and other minor objects were all washed. Guess what? Surprisingly, for the first time again, I slept in my bedroom without having heart complications throughout that weekend I stayed.
Imagine what mental fight and battle over witches and wizards the average African Christian will fight if he was to be in my situation. Casting and binding demons who may be busy in another case and in the process even drawing their attention to us. Today, many Christians fight non-existent wars. Battles they created themselves or battles their religious heads created for them. They tell you that your relative is a witch and you keep on fighting an innocent person in words and in deeds – someone in whom your solution does not lie. You are getting old and yet to be married, you forgot that various issues like ratio of men to women, attitudes, economy, timing, family, etc. affects all relationships. You have now dragged yourself into an imaginary war that someone is attacking you and so start a mental battle. So, you will end up painting an innocent person bad in the process or even killing him/her but your problem still persist. You keep on wondering, what is really my problem? Your problem may just be a normal life challenge, lies in a proper medical diagnosis and treatment or just to change a lifetyle. Sometimes, it is merely environmental implications of some sort. Many unseen factors could be responsible for our challenges aside spiritism, and using only spiritual meaning to translate them is absolutely wrong.
In this instance, I do not however, put aside the fact that some spiritual cases do exists, for I believe they exist. I could recall a friend in my childhood telling us he could draw/make rain to fall. We argued ignorantly and made him look like a fool. He just went inside, brought out medicinal ogogoro (an African type of alcohol. The average African man makes concoctions of ogogoro with herbs, roots, dried/dead wood skin, etc., for treatment or to remain healthy) chewed some herbs, made some incantations and blew it in the air. To cut the long debate of how it will not work short, the weather started changing. As if it was a play, rain started falling heavily in the middle of the dry season, he even blew the rain to his community direction. His parents who had gone there for work were drenched in the rain upon their return and even testified the rain started all the way from their community, something that caused a comic jest of him. Now, at an older age, an aged Christian was arguing with me that those things do not exist. I was very quick to tell him my childhood story.
So, I believe that spiritual implications may affect our very lives in one way or the other, but my point of view is that many of us, our situation may not be spiritual, but we have used spiritual approach in tackling these problems, so, we remain in one challenge over time unresolved even when the witch we think was disturbing us may have passed on. A popular pastor arrested in South Africa for money laundering was responding to media reports that his church was collecting monies for prayers. He rejected the allegations passionately stating that the allegations were inconceivable that his church do nothing of such. Comments from Facebook users in the comment sessions which I personally screenshot and reposted indicated that many persons paid money for prayers. One even claimed the church have differentiated charges for foreign prayer seekers. My purpose of bringing in this report is that of one users who commented noted that he paid a whooping sum of R8,000 for her sick aunty who flew in from London to South Africa for prayers. Unfortunately, she died later. We have countless cases of this nature, however, since this paper is not intended to indict religion, no further cases will be cited.
The Mindset and the Academic Community
Your mind can also play a major role in what you achieve in school. While intellect is a major consideration, how well you are prepared is another factor. Your determination emanates from your mindset and whether you will succeed is a consequence of your determination. Your mindset is not really your intellectuality. Follow the example of these two female undergraduate friends. Both IQs are low. In exams, they will depend on boys to write well. Then, in an instance, I had one girl at the left and another at the right. Being customers who patronize my academic services that sustained me then in school, it was difficult to cover my work from them. So, in an instance, I had failed while they passed (I may have been punished because our work looked similar. But do I have to be the one to fail? Well, it is so sometimes.). But then in the exam situation, the one on the right have a successful mindset, before me, the originator of the idea will complete a sentence, she had added her own and completed the sentence even before me. I was aghast! But look, the one to the left, she is both dull and also have a poor mindset. She will even want me to finish my write up and write for her. This is the mentality. So you see, we cannot really say that intelligence matters here but the mentality, your carriage. Those low IQ students all around with the right mindset still graduate well because they do all there is to do – reading, buying text materials, attending all classes and all necessary academic work.
So, do not think you are not intelligent and so begin to lose hope. No, develop the right mindset, and you will succeed. The mind controls you, I mean all of you. That is why they always say “I have made up my mind”. Not your brain, not your heart, but your brain. Both brain and heart are subject of the mind. They are like machinery in a factory that are used to actualize a process. So, the mind conceptualize the idea and passes it to the brain for processing and refining. You must understand the power of the mindset, else, you will never know it and you will live all your life being a “yesman” to others.
Let’s follow another example. When I was small, I used to believe, even as I still believe today, that the mind controls the body. So, I worked and worked and worked. Even though physically tired, my mind still keeps on working, I must complete what I have in mind. I will be so tired. I will get some energy drinks, and that is it. At some point in a factory where I once worked, some friends with so much power and muscles, even bigger than I am in size will ponder, “why can’t I do what Michael is doing?” They will attempt, but in vain. They tried, but sooner or later, they tire out. I remembered in 2005, I was carrying a 250kg bag of palm kernel actually weighing up to 150-180kg in my back in a kernel mill factory with my superiors. My mates questioned that if me with my small body can do that, then, them with their thicker chests can do more. The first to attempt with a big bag was buried inside hips of palm kernel. That was his last attempt in taking such steps. He was comparing my years of training and work ethics to his which were not significantly related. Their problem was the mindset. Surprisingly, when it comes to fight, they would easily fling me off the road, but during work, they haven’t even started.
The mind can also control the soul till it tires out and die. Of course we see persons who died because of religious beliefs right? People also died because of personal cause. That is just the mindset. When I was young, my problem was just work. I can work from morning till night, all house chores. Impossible right? But it was just a mindset. It is a mindset thing that is very possible if you think and live it. Those around me in the area who may have seen me in action would smile reading my papers. I have worked into the dark nights because I wanted to finish something (in particular circumstances). As a boy, my mother who traded in kolanuts would buy tens of sacks of kolanuts, soaked them in water and must be washed that night else they get soaked and spoilt. While others may be sleeping, I will be determined working provided all is set. Mind you, at this stage, I have not understood the concept of making a living, neither will the washing put any money in my pockets other than increased piece of meat in a meal or sometimes pairs of shoes. Then, I became a trusted son that my parents could beckon on. All these while, I never know that my problem was a made up mind. Physically, I wasn’t looking so strong, but my mindset was all made up.
I also remembered digging a drainage with friends in the Ughelli township stadium then. Ughelli is one of the major towns in Delta State, Nigeria. A drain leading water off the football pitch to outside the establishment was earlier misconceived and then needed to be constructed. Unfortunately, the lane had been filled with sand and compacted 4 feet deep plus with the underground drainage of 2 feets making a total of 6 feets to be dug. After the first day job, we realized our strength was infinitesimal for the job due to the stiffness of the terrain as a result of the compacted soil and had to come back the next day with more men, this time, hefty men as we can call them then. After renegotiating the cost due to the terrain, we started digging.
However, the new men suggested that the smaller boys should be removed since they could not work well but still have to share in the money afterwards. I belonged to this set of small boys. So, they chose to remove two of my friends but retained me. One of the hefty men working in front of me was marveled and would often stand up to watch the size of sand I shove at once and the speed at which worked. They were so pleased that they shared my money equally with them (in this part of the world (South-South Nigeria), culture doesn’t allow seniors and juniors to share money equally, the amount of work done irrespective). What happened there was the mindset. While I may be lazy in fighting, I was a monster on the job till date and this is what defines my very existence. A very close friend remarked when he saw me typing and handling some office requests, “you just have the grace of work”. Yes it was grace, but not without hardwork and training. I see many CVs with the objective, “can work under duress”. Really? Do you have the mindset? It is not really about the ability to work under duress but the mindset to remain under such duress for long.
During my undergraduate days in the university, my mindset also helped me a lot. From my 100 level, I had been engaged in research assistant duties. Helping students to browse their assignments and seminars and sometimes carrying out the whole job. By year two and three, I had started typing and correcting seminars and project works. My understanding of how these works looked like helped me a lot in final year. During my graduating year, I did not only carried out a satisfactory work in the sight of my supervisor (though now, I see the work as trash), I also assisted many other students in carrying out their studies. At the end, my research documents in 2013 had well up to 101 research documents. Of this figure, I had conducted up to 50% full undergraduate projects for my colleagues while the rest are either typed, edited or solely printed.
They all wanted me to handle their work because they heard that I had magic fingers that their supervisors have been commending their formatting and print quality. Someone may want to argue, that how can I engage in 50 research work as a final year student? At best, they are copied and paste (plagiarized) jobs. But those works are adjudged to be the very best. Even in years later, that figure rose with 2015 having the highest figure. Those were the days when men were boys. I don’t have that strength again neither will I do that even if I had the strength. The stress in those days was supreme.
Why am I telling these stories? What happened to me then was a consequence of mindset. I never rejected any job. I had the mindset that I can handle anything. With the challenge of completing those works and the overwhelming challenges of corrections from supervisors, cancellation and so on, the stress and pressure really weighed on me. But my mindset was one that was made up. No going back, never rejecting any job. A client whose work was delayed cursed me that I will soon die of stress (looked at me then, you will only see my head with no neck). That I will not reject some work to allow me focus and complete the handy ones on time. I just laughed over it. I never regretted the stress. Those things built me that now, even as a subordinate, when I speak in front of professors, they listen with awe. Some of my doc who never read my profile till date thought I schooled overseas. That is an overwhelmingly great benefit. It made me know more than my colleagues.
It is the made up mindset that will make you read more than your colleagues, research more than your colleagues and prepare you to succeed. The unserious ones will mock you that you are behaving as if you are the only student there, but never mind because your mind is mad up.
This paper was written with personal examples to buttress points and experiences. None was portrayed with a showy intent and should not be seen as such. Since I started utilizing the internet resources in the academic community, my appreciation for local content had widen that I have to use local experiences in building this material. More of this paper may be released in the future as these ideas were just flash ideas and were not part of a long buildup I have. Thank you for reading.
Based on the above presentation, it is suggested as follows. That,
- Students should adopt a very vibrant mindset.
- A vibrant mindset is a consequence of concerted determination. Therefore, students should be determined.
- Research into your challenges and find different solutions instead of waiting on a supernatural solution that MAY be non-existent.
- There is no challenge peculiar to you. Deal with it for others may have surmounted it.
- Pray less, work smart, expect grace instead of miracle. Miracles should be left for extreme cases, not buying of cars and building of houses. Those are within reach when working smart.
Goldhill, O. (2016). Scientists say your “mind” isn’t confined to your brain, or even your body. Retrieved February 6th, 2019 from https://qz.com/866352/scientists-say-your-mind-isnt-confined-to-your-brain-or-even-your-body/
Oxford Dictionaries, (online). Mind. Retrieved February 6th, 2019 from https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/mind
Wikipedia, (online). Mind. Retrieved February 6th, 2019 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind.