I love learning. I used to love reading but how on earth does one have time to do that? I am so grateful for the invention of audible.com, my kindle fire and all those other products that help me do my "reading" while I drive, walk my dogs, do errands or many other mundane tasks that can use some excitement added.
I was listening to Depak the other day and he said something like the average human has about 60,000 thoughts a day. And here is the clencher: 95% of those thoughts are the same ones we had yesterday! And here it gets even worse: 80% of our thoughts are fear based... Pretty shocking. Meaning, if we are not consciously engaging with picking the right direction, all goes to hell. We'll end up in Never Never Land.
This may be a familiar scenario: You've had a super busy, hectic day. Your boss sucked. Your clients were difficult. Everything took longer and seemed harder than expected. There were lots of fires to put out. You didn't have a moment to yourself. You can't even remember if you actually ate your lunch. Your kid was a pill. Your spouse pushed your buttons. You just can't seem to win with any of it. The entire day was a chain of reactions. If you had a plan it went out the window at 8:01am. You feel totally out of control, stressed, your stomach is turning and you seem to be thinking the same train of thoughts over and over and over. With no different results. You probably went to bed still in your spinning cycle. Your dreams were anxious. You woke up thinking the same thing. And off you go on the same train again.
So how do we change this? How do we direct our momentum for the day? Get on the right track?
We actually can make conscious choices about our thoughts. And the most important part is the "conscious" bit. Once you are on the runaway train it takes a lot more effort to stop and change direction. Build a practice around noticing unpleasant thoughts. It's like a ball rolling by. You can notice it and go "oh, there is a ball" or you can pick it up and play with it. No ball for you!
Here are some practical tips to stop the cycle and change your practice:
- NOTICE: that you are stressed and anxious
- STOP: Stop, Take a deep breath, Observe your pattern, Proceed with creativity and compassion (allow yourself a different thought here...)
- EXAMINE: your unresourceful thought from the outside and just say to yourself: "that was unpleasant. And entirely unnecessary"
- CHOOSE: a different thought. It's like lifting the proverbial cart out of the rut and putting it on a different path. You might notice yourself sliding back into the rut a few times and it is crucial that you keep changing directions here.
- APPRECIATE: your choice. Be in gratitude about your new new direction, the new momentum you are gaining. Look at it in detail.
It's like going to the gym, folks. This may feel cumbersome and difficult the first few times, but you are building new muscles and muscle memory. Keep going!!!