Overcoming Negative Thoughts
You have no idea how lucky you really are. You had a 1 in 400 trillion chance of being a human being and you won. Think about that for a second. Feels good doesn’t it. Haha. Seriously though, we have a 2 million year old brain that was not designed to make you happy, it was designed to make you survive. It is a survival tool. It’s always looking for what’s wrong so you can react and fight or fly. Since there aren’t any saber tooth tigers anymore, we worry about things like; what people think about us, who is plotting against us, or how many likes our Instagram pictures receive. It’s why we are addicted to our phones. We track likes on our posts or comments on our pictures since the brain gives off dopamine because as human beings, we crave acceptance.
Ever wonder why after you buy a new car or a new outfit, you start seeing it everywhere you go, or when you learn a new word, you then start hearing it everywhere. Why you can tune out a crowd full of talking people, yet immediately snap to attention when someone says your name or something that at least sounds like it. Your mind focuses on what you think about most. This is the part of the brain known as the Reticular Activating System or RAS for short. Your RAS takes what you focus on and creates a filter for it. It then sifts through the data and presents only the pieces that are important to you. All of this happens without you noticing, of course. The RAS programs itself to work in your favor without you actively doing anything. Pretty awesome, right? Your mind blocks about 99% of the images you see. If you saw everything, you’d go insane. It only shows you what it thinks you want to see. So what you focus on the most will be at the front of your mind. That’s why it is so important to feed your mind positive thoughts. You are what you think about.
You probably have friends that are just so negative, all they do is complain about how their life sucks and bad things keep happening to them, and you even start thinking that they are right, bad things do seem to be happening to them. It’s not that they have bad luck or there is a black cloud following them around, it’s because what you think about will become your reality. I’m not saying that bad things won’t still happen, but life will begin to improve almost immediately if you start to think about all the positive things in life. It is impossible to be sad and grateful at the same time. It is also impossible to be mad and grateful at the same time. No matter what you go through, somebody else will always have it worse than you will. So the next time you get mad, sad or anxious, try thinking about something that you are truly grateful for, a friend, a family member, your wedding day, anything that can possibly shift your mood and for a moment take you back to a place where you were the happiest. Maybe you love the outdoors, maybe you love to run or hike. When you’re having one of those days, go outside, go for a run or a hike. Emotion is changed by motion. I know it sounds a little hokey, but try it. There will definitely be terrible times in your life when none of these techniques will work, but if it works 50 percent of the time, then you will at least be twice as happy as you are now.
I am also a firm believer of the school of thought that good things always follow bad times.
Kintsugi (or kintsukuroi) is a Japanese method for repairing broken ceramics with a special lacquer mixed with gold, silver, or platinum. The philosophy behind the technique is to recognize the history of the object and to visibly incorporate the repair into the new piece instead of disguising it. The process usually results in something more beautiful than the original.
“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.” – Ernest Hemingway
Wabi sabi is an ancient aesthetic philosophy rooted in Zen Buddhism, particularly the tea ceremony, a ritual of purity and simplicity in which a master’s prized bowls are those that were handmade and irregularly shaped, with uneven glaze, cracks, and a perverse beauty in their deliberate imperfection.
The Japanese philosophy celebrates beauty in what’s natural, flaws and all. The antique bowls above are prized because of (not in spite of) their drips and cracks.
What if we learned to love the drips and cracks in our messy lives?
Everyone makes mistakes, but it’s important to learn and grow from them. Beating yourself up today for something you did in the past is like convicting an innocent person. You’re not that person anymore if you realize it was wrong and you learned from it. Now there are some exceptions (Murder, assault, etc.), but you know what I’m talking about. So many people beat themselves up because of something they said, the way they treated someone, or just about anything that they don’t feel very proud of doing. Leave it in the past. Ask yourself, if you would do it again if faced with the same circumstances. If you learned from it and wouldn’t ever do it again, move on.
Don’t hold grudges. If someone did something to you that you didn’t like, don’t spend a moment of your time letting it bother you. Don’t hate someone because it doesn’t do you any good. They don’t care and all it does it bring you down to their level, if you have hate or revenge on your mind, let it go. It doesn’t serve you. Get rid of it. One of the best pieces of advice I have ever received was “If someone or something causes you grief, get rid of them.” What good does it do to remember a bad time or memory in your life? Of course, it is much harder than it sounds, but it is achievable with practice. As I mentioned earlier, be grateful for what you have and don’t worry about the past. Learn to look towards the future. The baggage that you hold from the past will weigh you down and make it harder to move forward. As I said earlier, you become what you think about and if you are harboring negative thoughts, thoughts of revenge, or hatred, you will become a vengeful and hateful person. You will manifest yourself into the people who you hate. You will begin to sabotage yourself and it will completely overtake the person you wanted to become. You won’t remember the dreams you had as a child, the person you dreamed of becoming. You will start to hate yourself and it will not end well. You will lose yourself. Remember this very important fact. Everyone has bad times and whatever it is you are going through, someone else has gone through it and some have gone through worse. Ask any successful person and they have a story, we all have a story. Over half of all millionaires were broke at one time. That actor who just won that award, at one time had people tell them they couldn’t do it, that they weren’t good enough, and for a period of their life they may have believed that, but they eventually came around to thinking that it was their life, their story, and they weren’t going to give up, they weren’t going to quit. It’s your story and you have to write it. The question is, will you let your story have an unhappy ending or will you write your comeback story? I believe that bad things happen in our lives to guide us and show us the way and most people don’t realize this, so they don’t change and bad things keep happening and they just think they’re cursed. Truth is you’re not seeing the signs. You become what you focus on.
When someone has that positive mindset and that integrity, when they rid themselves of negative thoughts and energy, things start to change. The research says when you give up self-interested goals, where most of us are most of the time, and you take on contributed goals, you function differently; the biology changes, the thought processes, learning accelerates, and you grow more. So you have to decide if you are a victim or if you are a champion. Are you going to listen to the naysayers or are you going to go for your dream. The only thing that I’m left to conclude is you and I are designed to be purpose-seeking mechanisms. You’ve been shaped by life. You’ve had bad experiences and good experiences and both the bad experiences and the good experiences are there to teach you something about you. What are you going to do with your life?