You would have heard the above phrase many times in your life, often used for expressing good or kind intentions through your thoughts rather than action or the consequences of those actions. When we talk about thoughts from a broader perspective, they are all that matter as thoughts control your state of being, your intentions, your actions in the past, present and future. In-spite of being such an important part of our life, almost everyone lets their thoughts run on auto-pilot mode.
The main struggle with everyone is the thoughts that come to your mind and the action you take as the result are not created by you rather dictated by your past memories and experiences. Just like a conditioned reflex, for those who don’t know, the conditioned reflex action is what you have been doing repeatedly and have learnt to do them so well that now you don’t have to think about it while doing. Your body has taken control without involving your mind. For example, driving back home after work. Have you ever caught yourself parking on your driveway not remembering how you got home? You had no memory of where you were going, but you still got home nevertheless.
Our thoughts work in the same way as they are conditioned. They appear in your mind as they are hard-wired by your experiences, memories, mostly the past. Most thoughts are on “automatic mode”.
The question must be asked here, why are we all hard-wired thinking about the past or the future most of the time. The answer is the how we have seen and learned from our surroundings right from how we were taught by our teachers and parents, what we see and read through the media reports, social networks, movies, music, and friends. We have learned how everyone else thinks and our minds are conditioned to it.
The trend to think negatively has been around since the start of our civilization. This is the result of overthinking and over-analysis as the consequence of your memory and past experiences. It is not universal but happens the majority of times. No wonder the world is so unhappy and depression is on the rise. Do you actually want to ruin your present and future experiences because you are unable to break these hard-wired conditioned patterns in your mind that are running out of control? is it possible to break away? Yes, it is, but it will need determination and passion for life to start with.
Feeling happy should be simple. It seems we are trained well to feel sad and unhappy no matter what the situation is.Even when you receive good news, your thoughts wonder what if it isn’t true or something goes wrong. It all comes down to unlearning rather than learning more.Sounds easier than done but this is the only way. There is nothing more important than living in the present as much as you can and not letting your past experiences, opinions and judgements affect your state of mind in the “NOW”. This is also one of the core principals of mindfulness.
That is when controlling your mind comes in, which is nothing more than actually controlling your thoughts in the present moment. The present moment is what matters, what defines your state of being, your awareness and what will eventually become your past very soon after.If you can focus and be aware of everything that comes to your mind, you can change it or replace it or at least attempt to modify it.
Now, this is not going to be easy but any progress is good as you will be more aware of the thoughts that come to your mind and that you have the ability to change them or think of something more pleasant. After all, these are your thought and only you have the power to decide what you think.
Few strategies I developed and adopted that will help you make that start:
Pay less attention to things people say around you. In other words, you do not have to register anything unpleasant in your mind. Let it bounce off you or let it go through you without any resistance
If you did hear and register something unpleasant, don’t try and analyse it. Analysis and overthinking leads to negative emotions as we all are hard-wired with instantly feels unhappy no matter what the perspective.
Reduce rather eliminate judgement. For example, You see a man on the streets who is not well groomed, shabby and sitting on the footpath. It doesn’t automatically mean he is poor or homeless and if he is then he could be dangerous or maybe a thief or someone who could hurt you. You see where and how your mind is trained to think of the worst? Why couldn’t you think the man may have had a bad day or maybe he is having a difficult time in his life? This takes me to my next point.
Empathy: The ability to understand and share the feeling of another. It is not that you are empathetic or not, it is whether you are open to learning those skills and developed those abilities. The just like the above example of the man on the street, it is not necessary that you offer help, but for your own peace of mind, you could think more positively or at least stay neutral. The actions of another person could be justified from their point of view. A general non-judgemental, empathetic mind will be far more peaceful and happier.
Not everything in the world revolved around you. You are too busy thinking of what the world/people around you are doing and thinking. How some of them are trying to cause harm to you or your possessions. How your health care practicioner wants to get all your money and inflict pain to you as if they derive pleasure in doing so. How some of the members of your extended family and your neighbour what to cause distress and commotion in your life. How your local community members don’t care about the environment and how your politicians and governments are doing their best to ruin your country and your quality of life. Start but giving them a benefit of doubt and soon their behaviour will change (how you perceive).People are thinking the same for themselves as you are. So maybe it is time to be aware.
Be kind to yourself. Keeping unpleasant memories or experiences in your mind are like letting the cancer in your mind grow. Trust people more, for your own peace of mind as you have the ability to influence them and get the best out of them. Take care of your mind by being aware of your thoughts. You owe yourself a happy life.
Originally published on Medium – Gaurav Vasudeva MDS
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