Hopeless to Hopeful: Change Your Mind, Change Your Mood!

“Each of us literally chooses, by his way of attending to things, what sort of universe he shall appear to himself to inhabit” William James, American Philosopher and Psychologist 1842-1910

Positive ThinkingSometimes the best way we can nourish our mind is to simply pay a little attention to it! What is your mind trying to tell you in this moment or that? Do you agree? Perhaps your heart or soul would like to present a different idea for your mind to mull over? Or maybe if you pay close attention, you may catch your mind basking in a pleasant thought about a sweet someone in your life, a beautiful blue sky, or the delicious hot smell of your morning coffee! In that case I’m sure your body and soul would gladly jump on board to prolong the moment and enjoy the ride!

We may sometimes feel at the mercy of our emotions and the circumstances in life that seem to dictate those emotions. While it’s true that some things we have less control over than others, one thing we can choose to change is our thoughts! The next time you find yourself feeling frustrated, hopeless, unmotivated, or depressed, take a moment to pay attention to the thoughts that are running through your mind. These thoughts are at the root of how you feel. Chances are, your thoughts in that moment are along the lines of ‘I can’t… ‘ or ‘I’ll never be able to…’ or ‘What if…’ When we master the ability to notice this negative and fearful thinking, then we have the power to challenge those thoughts and ultimately rewrite the script in our mind that guides how we feel!

Reframe ThinkingIs it really true that you’ll NEVER finish that project at work or get that baby to sleep? Maybe instead you can find a way to change that negative mantra in your mind and reframe your thinking? In those moments after you pay a little more attention to your thoughts and notice the negative beliefs that are driving your frustration or hopelessness, consider some alternatives. Think about circumstances under which you CAN or MAY BE ABLE to do that which is overwhelming you. For example, ‘I CAN do this if I ask for help…’ or ‘I just need to take a break and come back to it’.  What if the project really is not going to get finished in time, you may ask? Again, examine your thoughts and challenge any extreme messages that your mind may be sending you. Are you really going to get fired from your job? How could you make the best of the situation? What are some positive things to focus on or past successes? You’ll be amazed at how different you feel after intentionally changing a negative thought into a more positive one!

In the realm of parenting, I always encourage people to notice when their children are behaving in ways that they like and compliment them on it. When you ‘catch them being good’ your child is more likely to behave that way again in the future! This simple method can be even more powerful than imposing punishment for misbehavior. Likewise, it is important to notice and enjoy the positive thoughts that your mind may be offering you! When you begin to notice or intentionally create thoughts that help you feel better and work toward your goals, you will likely find that such positive thoughts become more plentiful and prevalent. What could be more nourishing than that?

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