Can Our Limitations Be Created by Our Thinking?

10/11/2011 06:37 pm ET | Updated Dec 11, 2011
  • Peter Baksa Investigative Journalist/Entreprenuer/Author of 'The Point of Power'

Everything has limits; you just have to find them. Science is always seeking limits. We are continually told to be wary of the limits of what we can do. Limits are all around us. But is this really so? Science-fiction author Larry Niven once wrote a short story entitled "Limits" that looked into our obsession with finding limits instead of just finding what we can of something.

So it always seems that we are continually seeking limits. Of course, when you look for something, then you just might find it. If you want to impose a limit upon yourself, then by all means go and seek it out. Find a limit, know it as a limit and you will, naturally, stop trying to surpass it.

After you're done chasing your shortcomings, just stop and think about this: How real are these limits, and are there any real ones at all?

Limits Throughout History

History is filled with examples of past limits we now know to be illusions. Indeed, I could fill a book with examples of such, but I'll stick with just a few.

Getting back to the old "flat earth" example, if you lived in the Mediterranean, you could not go much past the Rock of Gibraltar without falling off the edge of the Earth. That certainly put a limit on travel, particularly if you wanted to get to the Orient fast. You had to take a hard and long overland route, since everyone "knew" a route by water was impossible. But fast-forward to Columbus and suddenly we find the world is round and a whole lot bigger than we'd thought. Removing that perceived limit opened up a whole new world full of possibilities.

The human limit to flight is much more recent: "Man was not meant to fly; if he was he'd have been born with wings." Well, we weren't born with wings, so we made our own. Now we not only fly but have traveled to the moon and sent probes a lot farther.

The speed of sound was such a limit. The term "sound barrier" was coined for when an aircraft attempted to move from transonic to supersonic speed. As they approached this speed barrier, several unrelated aerodynamic effects held aircraft back. Different designs needed to be created. Now we race past it without a thought.

We now have the light barrier, and that certainly is a limit. Or is it? I trace back to "The Point of Power" and its introduction to quantum mechanics. "Entanglement" is when two particles have their energies enmeshed in such a way as to influence one another, even over a considerable distance. Just recently, a neutrino was said to have broken the speed of light. Who can say? But why assume a limit exists at all at this point? Simply do what you can to get past current barriers, and the future will reveal the remainder.

Or take Olympic athletes. The limits of what is humanly possible -- how far the body can be pressed to perform -- have been redefined every time there is an Olympic game. In fact, Olympics limits have but a single purpose: to be surpassed!

Do I need to go on? Everything at one time had a limit that has since been broken, often many times. If we would have obeyed our perceived limits, then I doubt we'd have developed much past the Bronze Age.

Limits in Your Life

Limits encroach upon our lives as well. We are continually told what we can and cannot do, to be "realistic" in what we strive for. Part of this comes from our domestication, or the assumptions we are brought up to obey. So many never bother to see if those limits are real or merely presumed to be so. How can you surpass a limit if you do not even try to do so, or even to see if it really is a limit?

You'll never be rich, you'll never be famous and you'll never get published, never, never, never. Only the rich can get richer, right? Do you know how many millionaires started out penniless? Well, I for one. Bill Gates started out working in his garage and now runs a multi-billion dollar foundation with his spouse, Linda. An inspiring list of famous comedians and actors started out poor or orphaned and actually used that as an advantage instead of as a limit. It's quite a respectable list. You should be on it.

Or, wait. I forgot. You have your own limits now. Right? Think of what they are and list them. You'll never get rich? Never go back to school and get that degree? Never find someone to marry? Never fulfill a dream? Well, there are two possibilities: Either they are limits or they are not. If they are actual limits, then what can you lose by at least trying? If nothing else, in the attempt you might better your position even if you miss the higher goal, and that's an improvement, right? Or, you might find that they are not limits at all and discover to your joy you're far better off from trying.

But you'll never find this out if you don't try at all!

Is your limit financial? Afraid to try for that other higher-paying job because you know you'll never make it? Well guess what? You won't -- not if you don't try. But go for it, and you might get laughed at, you might find the one thing your resume is missing to get hired, or you might discover that you're just the one they had been looking for all along. Of course, if you limit yourself by not trying... well you get the point.

Peter Baksa has written "The Point of Power," available now on Amazon. He is also the author of "It's None of My Business What You Think of Me!" , "Think Yourself Young," which will include interviews with Tibetan Monks from earlier this spring, and "The Faith Wave: I think therefore it is," release date Jan 2012.

Check out this live interview: