There are lots of things we need to think about on a daily basis, things like, what we have to accomplish today, what time we need to get the kids to a play-date, the questions we might have for our doctor at an upcoming office visit.
But there are lots of thoughts that really are not worth thinking.
Any thought that helps you indulge in an unhealthy behavior, makes it harder to engage in a healthy behavior, or causes you to fall prey to a stressful emotional state is probably not worth thinking!
Thinking about what you want to do, even if it is unhealthy, makes it more likely that you will do it. Thinking about how much you don’t want to do something that would be of benefit to you makes it more likely that you will procrastinate doing it.
Our thoughts impact us emotionally. Some thoughts can cause you to suffer the stress of sorrow, resentment, anxiety, and disappointment. Thoughts like these lower our motivation, our vitality and even our immune system. They rob us of the ability to fully appreciate the present moment and to relate well with the people in our life.
It’s important to distinguish between responsible strategizing and pointless worry. Worry about something going wrong has no constructive value. In fact it is destructive. Thinking about what you can do to achieve what you want is constructive.
Thinking about how other people are more fortunate than you are, for example, makes you feel worse off. Without that thought you might feel fine.
Thinking about your goals and imagining achieving them can fill you with motivation, the motivation you need to take action to achieve them.
It’s unfortunate that not everyone realizes that they do not have to accept every thought that comes into their heads. You don’t have to think about smoking that next cigarette or eating that second piece of pie. You don’t have to think about how much you dislike exercise.
When you recognize a thought working counter to your interests, and realize that you do not have to dwell on it, you can let it go, and find yourself feeling so much better and doing so much better.
Positive Thought Exercise
Make a list of the thoughts that you don’t want to think about, thoughts that make it harder for you to do what you know is good for you to do, easier to do what you know is harmful for you, and thoughts that cause you to suffer pointless emotional pain.
To compose this list, observe your thoughts carefully throughout the day. Notice the ones that are not worth thinking. As you recognize these thoughts, write them down.
Your list of “thoughts to not think” might include:
- Thinking about what someone did to you that causes you to feel resentment
- Comparing your situation to another’s when that causes you to feel jealous
- Thinking about how much you love butter when you need to trim down
- Worrying about your financial situation not working out
- Thinking of yourself as not deserving of what you want
As you build your list of “thoughts to not think” carry it with you everyday, and periodically glance at it throughout the day. This will help you remember to be on the alert for the habitual thinking that really does not serve your interests.
You can then more quickly and easily avoid and let go of “thoughts to not think” and focus on something else, like your present moment experience, the task at hand or your goals.
By Bob Lancer, Motivational Speaker and Author
Photo Credit: George M. Groutas via Creative Commons