“Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.”
— William James
Imagine taking one of your favorite pictures and placing it into a beautiful frame. Doesn’t the picture look so much better? You can learn to do the same thing with your thoughts by learning how to re-frame your thinking. This shift in your mindset can help you to live a more joyful and fulfilling life.
Re-framing is the ability to change the way you think about yourself or a situation. Let’s say that you have convinced yourself that you are stupid just because you are not good at Math. Cognitive behavioral therapists refer to this as “All or Nothing Thinking”. You could re-frame your thinking by examining all of the other areas in your life where your gifts and talents lay.
Maybe you can write very creatively, or you are a history or science buff. Your strength may lay in your ability to interact with others. These strengths are what you would focus on versus what you perceive as your weaknesses. Therefore, you would re-frame your thinking and say to yourself, “Just because I don’t excel in Math doesn’t mean I’m stupid. My writing has been known to move people to tears. Redirecting your thoughts in this manner actually helps you create new neural pathways in your brain that produce positive thoughts.
Creating new neural pathways requires repetition so this is why the use of affirmations is such a powerful method to restructure your thought process. An affirmation is a positive statement expressed in the present tense. It should not contain references to what you do not want only what you do want. For example, “Joy floods my thoughts and my life”. Affirmations should be repeated for at least 30 days. Writing them down, saying them out loud and posting them where they can be seen helps to create new positive pathways in your mind.
Meditation is a modality that supports you in letting go of negative thoughts and stops feeding them energy. With practice, they will automatically die down over time and cease propelling you onto the path of habitual negative thinking. You learn to practice being an “Inner Observer” or “Witness” who observes your habits and behaviors without getting caught up in their doings. Detaching from them creates a mindset that is open to other possibilities.
Researchers have found that the simple act of smiling seems to activate happiness centers in the brain. Keep smiling and in time your mood will match your facial expression.
LISTENING TO UPLIFTING MUSIC
According to Steven Pinker, author of “How the Mind Works” music serves as an “auditory cheesecake” tickling several important parts of the brain in a highly pleasurable way. Listening to uplifting music can help you move out of negative thinking and into a positive state of being.
MOVING INTO GRATITUDE
Get into the habit of thinking about what you have to be grateful for versus what you do not have. Keep a gratitude journal and jot down the things that you have to be grateful for. Engaging in this activity can change the neural pathways in your brain and help you live a more joyful life.
As Buddha said, “What we think, we become”. Catch yourself in the act of negative thinking. Get in the habit of immediately replacing negative thoughts with positive thoughts. Every time you do you’re creating a new positive neuro pathway that opens the door to joyful living.