Healing, Recovery and Success each depend on your thoughts. And you can change your life with just a thought.
How would you like to have 250,000 dollars?
Now that I have your attention, I can’t get you 250,000 dollars. But I can help you to get more than that. You can get you mind to work for you rather than against you. And that can change your life.
In the time that it takes to read this article, you will have thought about 250,000 thoughts. 250,000 thoughts is a sizeable number. Now think about this: Scientists estimate that you will think 50-70,000 thoughts in a day. That’s about 350 – 450 thoughts per minute.
The bulk of your thoughts consist of:
- Repetitive thoughts intended to reinforce your daily routine.
- A rather mundane inner dialogue about your day, your appearance, your circumstances, traffic, how hungry you are, other people, and what you are reading or watching.
- Thoughts about your ability to manage, or handle your situations.
- Thoughts that form your perception of reality, your attitudes, and your reactions to yourself and other people.
- Self-talk that reflects your underlying beliefs.
- Thoughts that you digest from what you are reading, listening to or watching.
Some of these areas overlap, but the six areas reflect the many layers of thoughts that you have every moment of every day. If you work closely with someone, if you have a partner, or if you have kids, all you have to do is multiply your 350-450 thoughts per minute x the number of people in any conversation.
What this means is that your thoughts create the fabric of your life. Your thought life can propel you forward or drag you down. I began this article thinking primarily about recovery and healing and how thoughts are part of changing your life. But thoughts are not simply for you if you are in recovery. Thoughts propel your time management, your success and your response to your failures, your relationship health. In short, your thoughts determine everything and affect each of us whether we are in recovery, in business, in relationships or in school.
Everything you have in your life right now first began in your mind.
So how can you use your thoughts to your advantage?
Before we dive into the question, I want you to take one minute, sixty seconds and just think. You can keep your eyes open or close them. I don’t care. Stop reading, put your pen down, put your phone aside, pause your music. Just think normally and pay attention to your thinking.
If you did it this little exercise, what surprised you?
I took my own advice and paid attention to my thoughts over a few minutes. But I admit that I cheated because I asked myself a question and then let my mind go: How can you use your thoughts to your advantage in recovery and in healing?
A few random thoughts about your thoughts
Forgive me because some of these thoughts are repetitive and not very refined, but they illustrate how your thoughts create associations or links, they build layer upon layer, and they will thicken or become deeper:
- Everything that goes on in your life will make you think. Just accept it.
- Your mind will wander, that’s how thoughts work.
- Your thoughts are a big part of the actions that you take. Thoughts and actions are a part of each other.
- You can become caught up with particular thoughts that circle round and round. You can overthink and think too much, rather than act.
- Your thoughts can be about the past, about the present and about the future… all at the same time.
- You can allow your thoughts to flow, or you can fight against them.
- You can never truly quiet your mind, but you can be calm and let the flow of your thoughts go without resisting them.
- Your thoughts are like a stream and you can direct them.
- Changing yourself is not just a mental game. It involves thinking, and taking action. Any change begins in your mind.
- Your thoughts can occasionally race, become intrusive and bother you.
- Your thoughts about yourself and your response to life (recovery, healing, failure, success or other people) can be self-defeating.
- Thoughts change when you take an action, exercise, and talk. They will never change by trying to force them to change.
- You can guide your thoughts. One of the best ways to guide your thoughts is to ask yourself questions rather than tell your mind to stop thinking about something.
- Everything can be reduced down to thoughts.
Which of these thoughts caught your attention? My guess is that you are having your own thought stream right now. You probably have gone on several rabbit trails. Don’t beat yourself up, it happens.
Successful living and a healthy mind
Everything you want to do first begins in your thoughts.
Your thoughts are a big part of your recovery, your healing, your habits, your success and failure, and any change that you are trying to make. In fact, you cannot accomplish anything without a lot of thought and if you want to create something that lasts, you probably need the best thinking of a lot of other people. You can get caught up in your thoughts and led in the wrong direction, but you can also change course. You also can never act without first thinking, but you can think without acting. All action takes place after you have thought about it. And most action is the result of thousands and thousands of thoughts.
So think wisely. Think healthy.
One last thing, do you think your habit is too hard to break? Do you think that you react without thinking? You don’t.
Even someone in full blown addiction will have rituals, actions, and behaviors that they engage in before they get their next fix. Each of these steps requires… you get it, thought. No, their addiction is not simple to change. It’s really hard and takes support, structure, time and learning. Any difficult habit takes a lot of thinking, action, talking, and work to change. But you can change.
Every thought that you have is a creation
The most successful people in life are first successful in their thoughts. No one has said it better than Steven Covey so I quote him at length below. It will take a few minutes to read, but it’s well worth it.
The ability to envision in your mind what you cannot at present see with your eyes – it is based on the principle that all things are created twice. There is a mental (first) creation, and a physical (second) creation. The physical creation follows the mental, just as a building follows a blueprint. If you don’t make a conscious effort to visualize who you are and what you want in life, then you empower other people and circumstances to shape you and your life by default. It’s about connecting again with your own uniqueness and then defining the personal, moral, and ethical guidelines within which you can most happily express and fulfill yourself. Begin with the End in Mind means to begin each day, task, or project with a clear vision of your desired direction and destination, and then continue by flexing your proactive muscles to make things happen.
Six simple actions that can improve how you think and change your life:
- Invest time each day in thinking better. It will take daily effort, every day of your life. But your mind will pay you back with much more than a mere $250,000 dollars.
- Give your mind something to think about or it will give you something to think about, and you probably won’t like what you see.
- Exercise every day. Even if it is just walking. This will clear your thoughts and help with racing and intrusive, unwanted thoughts.
- Don’t try to stop your thinking. Instead, ask yourself questions, because the questions you have will guide your thoughts.
- Write down your goals, your mission statement and review it often. What you think about most often can change your life.
- Read or listen to content that takes you in the direction you want. In particular, what are you reading that is new to you, or challenges you? That will do more to generate new thoughts than anything else.
If you follow my writing, you will know that this article is a little different than most of my work. As I said earlier, I began this piece thinking only about recovery, but thoughts and a healthy thought life can literally change you. Good thinking will change your life.
If you like this piece, please read Why is the Type A Person’s Mental Health at Risk? If you enjoy it, please share it.
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Keep it Real
Photo by Peter Castleton
2 thoughts on “How to Harness The Power of Your Mind to Accomplish What You Want”
This concept was the cornerstone in my recovery process, using CBT from SMART Recovery and then using the techniques as life tools. Having awareness of our thoughts is the first step, and then choosing what we focus on is next, and the result is less time spent in frustration and angst, and more time spent in a healthier mindset. Thanks for this reminder.
Rick, You are welcome. CBT is a powerful approach to working with our thoughts. Well said.