How do you control your thoughts?

Take ownership of what goes on through your mind by focusing on two things:

  1. Increase the number of positive thoughts.
  2. Let go of negative thoughts.

Three ways to increase the number of positive thoughts:

ONE. Train your brain to focus on positive things by saying thank you.

Practicing gratitude rewires our brain to think about positive things, the things that we have going for us, instead of the things we do not have (or have not yet accomplished) and that can leave us feeling worried, anxious, frustrated, and even unhappy.

Here’s how:

Create a gratitude journal and write in it for 5 minutes each morning; list 3 things you are grateful for. It can be the simplest of things, such as having a warm bed to sleep in, a roof over your head, a family that loves you, food in your fridge, a dog or cat that you have as your pet, having an education that allows you to read and write, etc.

TWO. Believe in yourself that you can think more positively.

Henry Ford once said: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.” In other words, if you believe you can think more positively, you can make it happen. Conversely, if you don’t believe in the power of positive thinking, then it doesn’t matter how much others will tell you how great the benefits are.

Here’s how:

Start nurturing a growth mindset (versus a fixed mindset). If there’s something about your mindset you don’t like, the good news is – you can change it for the better. Tip: read Carol Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.

THREE. Challenge your body so the mind can take a backseat.

Doing physical exercise, even if it is targeted and short, can do wonders for your brain. It improves your brain’s cognitive performance, problem solving ability, and even boosts long-term memory. But even better than that: a physical challenge can calm the chaos of your thoughts and turn your mind to simple things (figuring out how to breathe correctly and how to move your body).

Here’s how:

Feel the benefit of the endorphin rush by starting with a mini-workout of under 30 minutes: a morning yoga routine, beginner boot camp session, a 20-minute run through the neighborhood, or a bike ride. The goal is to stay consistent, so making the sessions short will increase your likelihood of sticking to the habit and getting better results in the long run.

Three ways to let go of negative thoughts:

ONE. Work hard on letting go of anger and resentment.

Disappointment and feeling wronged or treated unjustly in some way is a normal part of life. This feeling is, at some point, inevitable. You cannot always control every event or situation, but you can control how you react to it.

Here’s how:

Take a step back and re-evaluate the situation that is causing you stress: is staying angry really worth your time, your energy, and your health? In many cases it’s better to let go, learn from the event, and move forward. Explore different options where you can focus your energy, such as dedicating time to doing something you are good at, or to working on developing a skill that will be useful to you in your personal development or career.

TWO. Change your attitude towards your mistakes.

Being self-critical can be a big factor in having negative thoughts. OK, so you’ve made your share of mistakes, or perhaps you made a really big single mistake. Did it ever occur to you that making mistakes is a normal part of life? It’s what we all do, and we do it often. It’s part of growing up and becoming an adult. Taking a different approach to your mistakes, however, can help you grow instead of staying in the same rut.

Here’s how:

Try a different strategy of viewing your past by forgiving yourself for mistakes that you made. Reflect on them, learn from them, but don’t hold on to them. Give yourself the time to think what you did, which results you got, and what you could have done differently. This applies to all areas of your life in which you feel you didn’t achieve what you wanted or maybe underperformed in some way: your relationships and personal life, your professional career, or your education. When you change how you relate to mistakes, you will give yourself more freedom to manage your future more successfully.

THREE. Declutter your mind with meditation.

Did you ever consider that you are not your thoughts? Even better: there is a way to see your thoughts from a distance, and you can do this by practicing meditation. It does not take a lot of time to do, it’s simple to follow, and it can be beneficial: it can improve your focus, declutter your mind, give you a greater sense of calm, and help you to feel more relaxed and positive about your life.

Here’s how:

Start with just 10 minutes a day. Download an app called Headspace. It is a guided meditation that starts with 10, and advances to 15 and 20 minute sessions. It’s easy and fun, and a great option for absolute beginners.


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