Your mind is the most powerful tool you have but if not used correctly, it can also be the most destructive force in your life. Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affects your insight and, therefore, your interpretation of reality.
I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive, unloved and just a general waste of energy.
You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control of your thoughts? Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.
When you change your thoughts, you will improve your feelings, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those emotions. Both of these outcomes provide you with a higher level of peace in your mind. With practice, you can learn to interrupt and tame negative cycles and patterns.
The first step to stopping negative thoughts is to simply don’t try to stop them. If you are obsessing about a lost promotion, money, or the outcome of the health exam, whatever you do, don’t tell yourself, “I have to stop thinking about this. Worry, and obsession get worse when you try to control your thought. Instead, notice that you are in a negative cycle or pattern and own it. Tell yourself, “I’m obsessing about my bad review.” Or “I’m obsessing about a financial situation.” Whatever you are badgering about, own it and start being true to yourself.
By acknowledging your negative cycle and patterns and accepting it, you are on your way to controlling your negative thoughts. Acceptance is the basic premise of mindfulness meditation, a practice that helps reduce stress and reactivity. You don’t necessarily have to close your eyes and meditate every day to reap the benefits of mindfulness. You can remind yourself to notice your thoughts in a nonjudgmental manner, without trying to change or alter them right away.
Accepting negative thoughts can also help lessen their weight. Getting mad at yourself for worrying or telling yourself to stop fearing, only adds fuel to the negativity fire. After you’ve accepted a negative thought, press yourself to challenge it.
The benefits of positive thoughts don’t stop after a few minutes of good feelings subside. The most notable advantage that positive thoughts provide is an enhanced ability to build skills and develop resources for use later in life. Positive thinking creates a positive mindset and emotions.
When was the last time you blocked out an hour on your calendar to explore and experiment? When was the last time you intentionally carved out time to have fun? You can’t tell me that being happy is less important than your Wednesday meeting, and yet, we act like it is because we never give it a time and space to live on our calendars.
Give yourself permission to smile and enjoy the benefits of positive emotion. Schedule time for play and adventure so that you can experience contentment and joy, and explore and build new skills. Positive thinking isn’t just a soft and fluffy feel-good term. Yes, it’s great to simply “be happy,” but those moments of happiness are also crucial for opening your mind to explore and build the skills that become so valuable in other areas of your life.
Finding ways to build happiness and positive emotions into your life, whether it is through meditation, writing, playing a pickup basketball game, dancing, going to a museum, or anything else — provides more than just a momentary decrease in stress and a few smiles.
Periods of positive emotion and unhindered exploration are when you see the possibilities for how your past experiences fit into your future life, when you start to develop skills that blossom into useful talents later on, and when you spark the urge for further exploration and adventure. It is time to build a powerful mind with love and kindness.
To put it simply: seek joy, play often, and pursue adventure. Your brain will do the rest.