How often do you think about your thoughts?

Everything we are, arises with our thoughts. Buddha is believed to have said this thousands of years ago, but it is not original, the concept is also found in the Bible, in Hindu sacred literature and is fundamental to most of the world’s religions.

The problem for most of us is that thoughts just come into our head without us doing anything to put them there in much the same way that our heart beats without us having to think about it. These are often referred to as automatic thoughts and a lot of the time they are negative, even though we don’t realise it, and we are thinking and worrying about things in the past or in the future, stressing out over things we have no control over and that may be highly unlikely to ever happen anyway. Sometimes, these thoughts in our mind seem to be going around and around to such an extent that we feel overwhelmed because we don’t know how to turn them off.

So, the important question really is “can we control our thoughts and focus only on the thoughts that we believe are important to us and let all the others go by?

The good news is that we can. William James, one of the founders of the philosophical school of pragmatism, said The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”

Of course, although we have the ability to choose which thoughts to focus on, we have to train our mind to filter out probably 99% of our thoughts as they are not useful.

Thinking

Learning to Train Your Mind

A good way to start is to practice what has become known as mindfulness, the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment?—?and accepting it without judgement. Scientific studies of mindfulness have found it to be a key element in stress reduction and overall happiness.

It’s become increasingly common for mindfulness meditation to be combined with psychotherapy, especially cognitive behavioural therapy, which makes makes good sense, since meditation and this therapy share the common goal of helping people gain perspective on irrational, dysfunctional, and self-defeating thoughts.

There is more than one way to practice mindfulness, and a web search will bring up many options such as joining a yoga group or daily meditation. But if you want to get started on your own, here’s the method I learned about 15 years ago and it has worked well for me.

Sit or lie comfortably in a quiet place and relax your body

Woman Resting

Focus on an aspect of your breathing, such as the sensations of air flowing into your nostrils and out of your mouth, or your belly rising and falling as you inhale and exhale.

 

Once you’ve narrowed your concentration in this way, begin to widen your focus and become aware of sounds, sensations and the thoughts passing through your mind

Accept each thought or sensation without judging it good or bad. If your mind starts to race or to wander, return your focus to your breathing. Then expand your awareness again.

Once you learn to focus your thoughts this way, you can change negative thoughts to positive ones.

Perhaps you dread going to the dentist yet have an appointment coming up and your thought is “I have to go to the dentist”. Consider this thought and realise that when we say we “have to” do something we are dis-empowering ourselves, making ourselves the victim of what we must do. Experiment with using a different word, such as “I plan to go to the dentist” and repeat this new sentence a few times and see if you feel a subtle difference in your mind and body. Now, make another change to your sentences such as, “I choose to go to the dentist” and notice the difference you feel. Once again, change your sentence to something really positive like, “I really appreciate the benefits of going to the dentist and getting my teeth fixed up” and realise that it is true, you really do feel better after your dentist has finished working on your teeth.

Now that you understand the process, use it on other limiting thoughts you have, such as:

I don’t like meeting new people
I’m terrified of having to speak in public
I’ll never lose weight
I hate my job

You Are In Control

You Are In control of Your Life

With time and practice your thoughts will become more positive and more empowering. Unconscious thoughts will still occur naturally but it’s up to you to monitor them and control the quality of your thinking.

You are the master of your thoughts and the creator of your life. You are always in control even if you make poor choices!

Man can alter his life by altering his thinking”. ? William James

Control your thoughts and everything will be under your control.” ? Debasish Mridha

Two Small Sentences that Eased My Trepidation

When you need Encouragement

Trepidation-Uncertainty

 

I’ve just read Alex Mathers article “What I learned writing thirty self-development articles in thirty days”, and as a newbie on Medium with the goal of writing every day, I was encouraged by what he had to say.

 

Two sentences stood out for me; the first was:

Being OK

 

“We must be OK with the idea that some of our work will be ignored or disliked.”

This was timely advice for me because I’d been spending so much time on each article that it was turning into a real drag, instead of something I’d hoped to enjoy and be stimulated by. You’d think, being in my senior years now, that I’d have understood this concept pretty well by now and I do, in other areas of my life, but this is the first time I’ve really put my writing “out there” and so there’s this tendency to be self-conscious and want perfection (never achieved of course) but still aimed at.

Alex’s other sentence that jumped out at me was:

Show Up

Showing up will show the world you mean business, but it?—?more importantly?—?will show yourself what you are capable of.”

Now that was just what I wanted to hear; it doesn’t matter if anyone reads my stuff or not, I’m writing for myself and to see what happens. Self-growth of some kind must occur!

Habits for Success

Success Is Built On Daily Positive Actions

Small Habits Matter

Let’s talk about success.

More specifically, let’s talk about what it takes on a day-to-day basis to become successful.

When you break it down, success is built on daily positive actions.

As long as you do something every single day to move you in the right direction and work on building those success habits, you’ll get there. And it will happen sooner rather than later as those daily actions start to build on each other and generate momentum.

Forming Positive Habits Is Easier When You Break Negative Ones

People develop bad habits during their lifetime. Some are really difficult to break. But if the bad habits can be broken it will make forming positive habits that much easier.

Take smoking, for instance. There aren’t too many people that will disagree that this is a really bad habit. This includes smokers. Exercising is a good habit, as long as you approach it correctly. Yet, it will be very difficult for smokers to adopt the good habit of exercise because the smoking interferes with their ability to breathe. This is a crucial aspect to exercising properly.

Another example is procrastination. Most people universally agree that this is not a great habit. While it’s not as life-threatening as smoking, it can be a cause for companies to fire someone who engages in it. If people want to be more productive and they tend to procrastinate, they will need to break that bad habit. The good news is that procrastination is much easier to break than smoking. Also, just the nature of breaking it makes someone automatically more productive.

Of course, not every bad habit is going to be offset by a good one. There are certainly plenty of bad habits that may not have any effect on good ones. They can easily coexist. For instance, if someone is a smoker, that doesn’t automatically make them a procrastinator. Therefore, they could already be very productive in their work. Some may argue that taking several breaks for smoking can have the equivalent outcome as one who procrastinates. But not everyone who smokes takes multiple breaks per day, so it is a weak argument at best.

One way to approach positive habit formation is to think about how many hours you spend awake every day. If you increase the number of positive habits, something has to give. Let it be the negative ones. Unless those negative habits are done in your sleep, like snoring, in your waking hours, you either have to forgo those negative habits or you simply cannot add any more of the positive ones. The rewards for taking on more positive habits should easily overtake the loss of the negative habits.

You shouldn’t try to change your habits all at once. It takes time for your brain to adjust to new behaviors. Do it one habit at a time or perhaps lose one bad habit while gaining a good one, etc. As you feel you have mastered the good habits, add others into the mix.

How to Deal with Obstacles to Creating Success Habits

You’ve decided that you want to achieve a goal. You want to be successful. A plan is in place and you are creating the habits you need. Your plan includes possible stumbling points and you have identified ways to overcome them. That’s great you are setting yourself up for success. However, what do you do when the unexpected happens and an obstacle occurs that threatens to derail you and your plans?

There are certain things you can do when this happens.

First it is important that you remember that most obstacles that will happen are created by your own limiting beliefs.

Think Positively

Positive thinking is a key success habit in itself. If this is not already a habit of yours then you should consider creating this habit first as it is crucial for all other habits and goal completion. All successful people are positive. They know who they are, what they want and how to get there. They are also willing to work to achieve their goals.

Relax

While it’s quite natural to become stressed when something unexpected occurs it is important that you have planned for this eventuality and have strategies in place that can help you deal with it calmly. Staying calm and relaxed is crucial. Breathe deeply, focus on yourself and the moment. Tell yourself it is just a blip and you can cope with it. Remember, that one of the key factors for success is flexibility. You must be open to change. Even unexpected change!

Take time out to do something else if you can. Perhaps listen to calming music or take a walk. Exercise releases endorphins and makes you feel good. Consider doing meditation, yoga, tai chi or self-hypnosis.

Persevere

You are in this for the end game. You are not a quitter as quitters don’t win. At the start of your journey to creating a new success habit create a positive affirmation to use for exactly a situation like this. That way when something unexpected happens you can use it to reinforce your determination and focus ensuring that you solve the problem and continue towards achieving your goal.

Actively Seek New Opportunities

When something happens that puts a spanner in the works and causes you to stop in your tracks, take the opportunity to learn from it. Is there something that needs to change or be done to get your plans back on track?

Re-evaluating your plans and strategies along the way is an important part of goal setting. Remember your plans should not be rigid and nor should your end goal. Are you still on the right path or is there something that needs to be changed?

Dream

Whether you think of it as dreaming or visualizing keep your goal in sight. Your journey to creating success and new habits started with a dream and you need to keep that in your mind.

Visualize yourself living the life you are working to create. See yourself using your new success habits to help you plan and create a new future for yourself.

Remembering what you are working for will help you stay committed, focused and taking action.

There will be times on your journey to success that you stumble or fall. It is essential to remember that these are temporary set-backs. Your attitude towards how you deal with them will be the key to whether you succeed or fail.

Groups Can Help You Develop Better Habits

When it comes to forming new habits, there’s no doubt that getting support from others can help. This is one big reason why support groups are created. There is strength in numbers as the saying goes. When you join a group of people who have similar goals as you, they can offer tips on what they did to overcome challenges or to break through barriers.

When selecting your groups, you want to look for ones that are as similar to the habits that you want to adopt. If it is not a fit, you are going to have trouble getting help from the members. For example, there may be a group dedicated to becoming healthier but their main focus may be through exercise. If you are looking for a group that focuses on eating well, this may not be the right group for you. It’s not that the group is wrong for focusing on exercise, it’s just not what you were looking for.

Finding groups can be as easy as searching your favorite search engines. Simply use the name of the habit followed by the words “groups”, “forums” or “blogs”. You can try all three in separate searches. When checking out the groups, make sure that they are fairly active and engage frequently. Otherwise, it could be a waste of time.

Facebook can also be a great place to find people who have formed groups similar to what you are looking for. You can start out by searching for the habit or topic. If you want even better results you can try the following phrase, “people who are looking to” followed by the activity. You could also do the same with, “people who are looking for”, etc. As with forums and blogs, make sure the groups you choose are active and have enough members to make it worth your while.

Meetup.com is another website that you can use to find groups of people all trying to accomplish similar goals. They require the groups to actually meet in person as part of its terms of service. But this can be a great way to get to know people and develop new friendships. If a particular group you are looking for doesn’t exist, you can create your own as long as you follow the terms of service.

Joining groups to help you create positive habits can really help you succeed in adopting those habits. The groups will have people that have experienced what you are looking to accomplish.

Teamwork