Do your thoughts matter?
"What you think, you become.
What you feel, you attract.
What you imagine, you create.”
― Gautama Buddha
Our view of the world is determined for the most part, by our perception of it and our world attitude (how we relate to experiences and outlook on life) in turn, largely impacts health, both psychological AND physical. In terms of turning health around and truly "deep health" evolving into the best version of ourselves; that thriving, growing, learning, full of vitality and overall happy human of our dreams; a host of different aspects must come together synergistically. We've touched on many of these aspects in the past - movement, nutrition, and sleep. What about the mind? Without a supporting mindset, it's not likely any of the efforts put towards moving, eating and sleeping will make a marked difference for long.
So what the heck are we thinking these days? Turns out, way too many stress inducing thoughts. Fueled by television and social media and the impending FOMO (fear of missing out) we've come to live in a time of less than optimal thinking patterns. The representations of life in media are often far beyond any grasp of reality, and while we may intellectually realize this, the resulting feelings are of disappointment and disconnection. Coupled with overwhelming stress, relentlessly busy schedules, and a lack of mindfulness, it is important to not only become aware of negative, energy zapping thought patterns, but also to have the tools to turn them around.
What are some negative, energy zapping mindsets to be aware of:
1. Perfection or failure, nothing in between. For example: You didn't get the job you were hoping for, therefore you will become homeless and starve to death.
2. Personally attaching to outcomes. For example: You didn't get the job you were hoping for, therefore you are worthless. Part of this is also comparing your constructed reality to the truth. Example: I should have done [insert action], then I would have gotten the job. "Should" can be a very dangerous word!
3. Ruminating on negativity which leads to feeling helpless, powerless and stuck. This often leads to depression, lack of confidence and trust that things will work themselves out.
4. Trying to think of very possible scenario to avoid failure and again, becoming stuck.
A healthy mindset is a muscle that requires training, just like your glutes and biceps. Here are some ways to cultivate one.
1. When you notice yourself creeping down that negative rabbit hole, ask yourself, "What's the worst that can happen"? Usually the worst that can happen is not so bad.
2. Focus on the "details in the fabric". If we pay attention to the subtle details in life, we'll see that they are perfectly coordinated. Take a glass of wine (or a cup of coffee), for example. The subtle nuances are what transform a decent glass of wine into something superb. Recognizing the wildflowers popping up between the slats of concrete, the sunlight peeking through the clouds just so,or the touch of a loved one help minimize the impact of the seemingly unfortunate life experience.
3. Let go of assuming we know the future. We often judge our experiences from the "fortune teller" point of view. The truth is we have no clue of what the future holds or why things happen the way they do in the long run. Fortunately is a kids book that really nails the message. With a broader lens, we see that things work themselves out just the way they are meant to.
Here are some healthy mindset exercises:
1. Mindfulness Meditation: There are several good apps out there to help get you started. (Contact us if you'd like some recommendations). You can also start out pretty easily unassisted. Take 5 minutes out of your day at anytime that works best for you. Sit upright and comfortably in a chair, cushion or floor, close your eyes and pay attention to your breath going in and out of your body. Some people find it easier to say to themselves "inhale" and "exhale" as they do so. As this becomes routine in your life, this sense of mindfulness will carry over to the rest of your life and in all you do.
2. Gratitude Practice: Studies show that maintaining a gratitude practice, has shown to lower levels of anxiety and depression, and increase optimism and overall sense of wellbeing. All it takes is 2 minutes in the morning to quickly jot down 3 things you are grateful for. Keep a journal by your bedside dedicated to this to help make this into a habit.
3. Breathing Techniques: Like meditation, certain breathing techniques can help create space between you and the negative situation you may be experiencing and help activate the healing/calming effect of the parasympathetic nervous system. One of our favorites is 4-7-8 breathing. Inhale for 4 counts, hold for 7, exhale for 8.
4. Determine Your Triggers (and create a pre-game plan): Think about circumstances, environments, people, and even foods that have triggered negative thinking in the past. Short of avoiding them (which is easiest to do with food), make a plan for when you DO have to be in those "toxic" situations. Your pre-game could look like this: Schedule in an extra meditation session to help broaden your outlook. Then, determine your default negative thought patterns and write them down on a piece of paper. Next to those, write down how you'd like to respond to them. Keep that piece of paper with you in case you need a reminder of that plan while in the midst of the trigger situation.
5. Take a break: A change in scenery can do wonders. Take a walk (preferably in nature) or a movement break, engage in a mindless activity or take a nap.
6. Limit your time on devices in general and especially social media.
June is gratitude month for our family. We are expressing gratitude outwardly to one person every day of the month in person, via email, text, old fashioned letter, gift, etc. No rules, except that it is to be done daily and should be specific (rather then "thanks for being you"). Want to join us?
(Full disclosure: We are affiliates of one or more items listed above. While we make a little bit of money if you make a purchase using our links, it is at no extra cost to you. We have tried each of these products, honestly believe in them and would otherwise never recommend them).