Have you thought about how you intentionally chose to manage your thought life?
If it is true that we speak at roughly sixty words per minute and think at eight hundred words per minute: – that’s a lot of thoughts happening in a day! What do you chose to think about?
If you were to categorise your thoughts into topics what would the main topics be?
For example, I spend a lot of thinking time processing time I have spent with friends, family and acquaintances. I am interested in people. I am after all a life coach so this is not surprising. It brings me pleasure to think about the incredible diversity of people, who they are, how they were made, what brings them alive, what’s unique and special about them and what I like about how they express that.
What do you enjoy thinking about?
Is it your work, your business, your family?
When we think it creates an actual physiological reaction. Our bodies are finely tuned systems which respond well to positive thoughts that bring us joy, peace and aliveness. Conversely anxious or negative thoughts lead to stress and have a negative effect on our bodies. These types of thoughts actually put our bodies into imbalance and neuroscientists have discovered account for well over 75% of disease.
We know that stress is one of our modern world’s biggest killers. Many of us blame our stress on our circumstances. Having gone through much trauma and stress myself in the last 6 years, losing loved ones, seeing loved ones deteriorate health wise, relationship breakups, starting a new business, travelling and living in a different country, moving homes multiple times, dealing with personal health challenges etc etc, I do understand that circumstances can be very stressful!
When I reflect on these years and how inadequately I’ve coped at times and better at other times, I’ve come to realize it’s really useful to practice managing your thought life during times that are not so dramatically difficult. This not only teaches us to live in a more peaceful stress free place daily but also helps prepare you to cope better in those incredibly difficult times in life. In effect you are getting your mind fitter and in better shape to serve you well throughout all life’s ups and downs.
So how do we do we cultivate a healthy thought life?
If you were to describe to someone, what you use your mind to think about, what would you describe?
As I am writing this article its making me think about what I think! I am realizing I spend a lot of time processing things. So here’s me: – I think about things that have happened, I think about how I feel about various things and what is bringing me life and what is not, I think about the future and envision how I would like things to be. I think about things that make me laugh. I think about encouraging things people have said to me and fully absorb and receive these things. I know negative thoughts are extremely unhelpful so when I have one, in the most part, when it’s an obviously one, as I know we all have blind spots, I don’t entertain it.
I will not give it the time of day. If it is a thought that brings fear, I immediately laugh at the thought and think the opposite: – a positive thought. I know if I let my brain explore more about that fearful thought, my imagination and thinking processes will build it up and it will get stuck in my brain. I don’t want the physiological effect of that!
Intentionally planning your thought life
Having got a grasp on what you are spending the majority of your thinking time on, you can start swapping out less positive topics for new ones.
For example, at times I feel discouraged, so I intentionally put time aside to reflect and think on what I am achieving, what I am improving on, places where I can see positive progress. This is such a powerful exercise. Think about where you were at just 3 years ago. What were you doing? What did you not know that you do know now? What have you learnt? What positive things have increased in your life? I suspect you will be encouraged like I always do. The opposite of this is thinking the negative on all of the above. Which one of these though processes is going to improve your joy, your happiness and your health the most?
What doubts do you allow your brain to feed on? What can you change about that?
Here’s another example. I am an ‘ideas person’. I woke up yesterday morning with a new exciting business idea. Life is busy and other tasks needed attention. I knew I had a 35 minute train journey, so I decided I would think about the idea then. The thinking time became intentional. So, what do you chose to use your mind, your imagination and your intellect to think about? What scenarios do you create?
How can you start harnessing your thought life more to improve your life, your leadership and your health?