Do you ever feel like you are being held hostage to your thoughts? Have you ever started your day with anxious feelings, negative thoughts, and wish you could hit the “reset button” and start your day over feeling good?
Research conducted at Harvard Medical School shows that 40% of what determines our happiness is under our control, another 10% is based on “good fortune,” and the rest (the other 50%) is based on our responses to life that is completely out of our control. This means we have the power to improve our emotional well-being no matter our life circumstances.
Our mind is a powerful processor and our thoughts affect us deeply. Our thoughts are the master control center for the body, for physical action, hopes, dreams, expectations, emotions, and plans. We color our thoughts with images, words, memories, experiences, judgments and desires. Our highest hopes and our greatest fears spring from our thought patterns.
The inspirational author, Wayne Dyer, put it perfectly when he noted, “It could almost be said that a human being is attention. Whatever occupies our attention—whether inwardly or outwardly, whether profound or trivial – is what we are at that moment.” (The Law of Intention)
Therefore, it is important to understand which thoughts bring out the best in you.
It is sobering to think that on average, we are bombarded with “65,000 thoughts a day, 95% of which are the same thoughts we have had the days before.” (Deepak Chopra) What this tells us is that our thought patterns become well-ingrained habits.
A couple of years ago I started monitoring my thoughts for a week. It is interesting to note that although I feel that I have committed myself to years of personal growth and reflection, I still noticed certain subtle narratives in my thoughts. My running narrative was that “I can never get enough done.” This kind of thinking not only made me extra anxious, but it also kept validating a belief that did not have roots in reality.
So, I challenged myself. Whenever I would catch myself with the same self-talk, I would pause and witness the thought without getting caught up in it. Being an objective observer of your thoughts automatically distances you from the negative feelings and thoughts. Then, I replaced my negative self-talk with an affirmative statement such as: “I have faith that I can accomplish my tasks without rushing or feeling nervous.”
Not every thought that crosses your mind is true, and sometimes the negative thoughts we repeat to ourselves stem from a root of fear of not being good enough or not being loved. Often times it is our ego playing tricks on us, keeping us distracted and pressing us to engage in the same unproductive behaviors.
I put this theory into practice and challenged the people attending my workshops to do the same. Many recorded or tallied their thoughts, while others kept journals. At the end of the week, each person had come up with at least two negative recurring themes in their thought patterns.
It dawned on me then. Our phones have become our own portable computers. So how incredibly helpful would it be to have an app that would serve as a tool for monitoring your thoughts. The application would send push notifications as reminders on the goals that you have set for yourself, and in general be your own personal coach for change. This became the impetus for me to develop a step-by-step program that leads us to take a closer look at the various facets of our lives that affect our happiness levels, whether it is our thoughts, relationships, our environment, or finding out the kind of inherent talents that we need to tap into. This app would then present each user with a set of customized exercises, addressing one’s personal needs.
For those of you who want to have some simple tips on mastering your thoughts, below are a few from “My Personal Coach” app.
1. Be aware of the thoughts that are passing through your consciousness—the positive and the negative.
2. Watch out for negative themes:
- General worry and anxiety – always stressing about something, obsessing over small things that cause anxiety.
- Dread – looking at a situation and expecting the very worst possible outcome.
- Judgmental thinking – feeling that you are not good enough, fretting, judging others, and yourself putting life under a microscope and noticing how things “always” fall short.
3. Once you have become aware of your thought, stay with it, noticing that the thought is not you but just a passing judgment. Create that distance between the thought and the observer (you).
4. Practice rejecting the inclination to dwell on the negative.
In any given situation you can choose to focus on what is right or what is wrong, and either way, you will be able to find evidence that supports what you are looking for. So, when a negative thought arises such as: “today is not going to be a good day,” or “I am not good enough,” or “No one cares for me,” you have the opportunity to challenge the messaging and replace it with a more compassionate and positive statement.
Here are a few other keys:
**Being mindful of the present moment is the best remedy to countering recurring thought patterns. Ask yourself–what would you be feeling at this present moment if you were not a hostage to your thoughts?
**Practicing gratitude will immediately shift your energy into a positive mood. Sharing what you are grateful with others can also elevate their mood.
The way you chose to direct and channel the steady flow of thoughts is key to your future, your happiness and attitude. @antravelista (Click to Tweet!)
The way you think on a regular basis, determines how you perceive yourself, how others perceive you and plays into the roles you will develop for yourself in life. Ultimately, your thoughts are the navigation system of human experience.
One of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves and share with others, is the permission to search for greater possibilities for living a joyful life. As Maya Angelou says, “If you don’t like something, change it. And if you can’t change it, change your attitude.”
Wishing all of us a year full of good thoughts and success in our personal growth. May this year bring us the health, prosperity, relationships and compassion that blossom from within.
Angella Nazarian is a bestselling author and noted speaker. Both of her books Life as a Visitor and the newly released Pioneers of the Possible: Celebrating Visionary Women of the World have become bestsellers for the publisher and have garnered glowing reviews from Arianna Huffington, Tina Brown, Martha Stewart, and Diane von Furstenberg. To learn more about Angella, visit her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
Image courtesy of Victor Nuno.