Change the way you think, change the world. It has been said before. Today, I felt compelled to say it again. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, today’s post is about the gift you give to yourself by thinking positive thoughts. I like to call this “thinksgiving.” A celebration of positive thinking.
In the field of mind-body wellness, thoughts are considered like medicine. While your thoughts may not be as tangible as a bottled pill, studies in neurosciences demonstrate a direct relationship between your thoughts and your health.
Consider this scenario. Imagine you are hiking in the woods and see an object in the distance that looks like a snake. The thought of encountering a snake elicits a stress response. This stress response activates your sympathetic nervous system, also known as your “fight of flight” system. As a result a series of physiological changes occur, including increased heart rate, adrenaline production, and pupil dilation. In a “fight or flight” state, the world is perceived as a dangerous threat.
Now imagine, upon a second glance, the object in the distance is simply a clump of dead leaves. What is your response to an innocent pile of leaves? Most likely, you will have little to no reaction. There is nothing to fear or stress out about a pile of leaves.
Consider how this example applies to your daily life. Can you recall a time when you might have feared something in advance, such as going for a new job interview or moving to a new location, only to discover the situation was not as stressful as the situation you anticipated?
As a part of your mind-body wellness begin to catch yourself creating “snake” scenarios. Introduce new thoughts, which help you to feel confident and calm instead of fearful and threatened.
It is one thing to experience a stress-response from time-to-time. It is another to live in a stress response state twenty-four hours a day, which many people, especially if you watch/read mainstream media, do. Mainstream media consciously crafts messages to evoke a “fight or flight” response in its viewers/readers. If you consistently fear the future, you are consistently creating a physiological environment for “dis-ease.”
Borrowing from The Happiness Project, here is a simple practice to help you stay on track with healthy thinking.
Identify key catchphrases, which help you to create a positive and hopeful outlook. Keep these catchphrases active and fresh in your mind throughout the day. Repeat, review, and recite them to yourself on a regular basis. Replace imagined “snakes” with catchy phrases that help you to feel relaxed, happy, and present. Create your own or borrow from great philosophers or pop culture.
Here are some good ones I have heard:
I am perfect just the way I am.
Expect the best.
Life is easy.
Work smarter, not harder.
Everything happens for a reason.
There is enough for everybody.
I am safe.
Love is the answer.
When you know better, you do better.
Take it easy.
I don’t have to have all the answers.
Take your time.
It’s only life after all.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Failure is a part of success.
I am perfectly imperfect.
Let it go.