There they are, taking up a big chunk of our energy. And we don’t even notice. Like a busy city whose noise is so familiar we don’t hear it anymore. But that constant buzz is still going on. Cars. People. Construction. Sirens. Trains. And we wonder why we’re stressed. If mental stress were physical stress it would be like carrying around a huge, heavy backpack. Filled with things we don’t even enjoy. For years. And we carry it for so long we forget it’s even there, but we wonder why our body is achy and tired. And just like that our thoughts are taking up our energy. Lots of it.
I’m not referring to the kind of thoughts used to solve a problem or contemplate beauty. I’m talking about the unintentional thoughts that seem to sweep us away, enticing us to worry about the future or regret the past. Sadly, those worrisome and regretful thoughts are what take up most of our mental space. And they don’t feel good.
Not only do they block our happiness, they actually block the natural flow of energy in our physical body. Scientific studies show that when we concentrate on a thought backed by emotion our brain sends a rush of chemicals through the nervous system and to all our cells.
Troubling thoughts produce cortisol and other stress hormones that compromise and weaken our bodies. We get tired. Or even sick. And old. (Well, we all age, but we don’t have to be old, if you know what I mean.)
When we focus on thoughts that feel good, our brain sends a rush of oxytocin – that’s the love hormone – throughout our body. Our cells, tissues, and fibers are soothed and strengthened. We are relaxed, alert and aware. All because of our thoughts.
The cornerstone of my entire program for reducing stress and growing younger is changing your thought patterns. No matter what else you do to live happy and grow younger, it cannot be sustained without a well-tended mind.
According to the National Science Foundation, the number of thoughts we have each day ranges between 12,000 and 50,000. Often these repetitive thoughts are negative – full of what we don’t like about ourselves or someone else, or what we’re afraid might happen in the future.
This negative mind chatter stops us from living up to our full potential as powerful, magnificent, joyful beings. And the dis-ease in our minds often becomes the disease in our bodies. You can change that! All you need is a willingness to form a new habit and a second or two to remind yourself to observe your thoughts.
One of the best times to practice is when you brush your teeth since you don’t need your conscious mind to brush your teeth. It’s all muscle memory – the action of brushing your teeth is automatic. So use that time to watch what’s going on in your mind. Don’t judge your thoughts but try not to get taking away with them either. In the beginning you just want to increase your awareness and simply notice that you are thinking.
I promise that if you make observing your thoughts a practice, it will raise your consciousness, the process of becoming aware of negative thoughts will become automatic and you’ll feel healthier and more joyful.
Here’s an effective way to get started.
- Write on an index card or sticky note: What am I thinking right now?
- Put it on or near your bathroom mirror as a reminder.
- While you’re brushing your teeth, notice your thoughts.
- Don’t judge them – just notice that you’re thinking.
- Once a week, change the position of the card.
You are what you think! My suggestion? Form a habit of becoming aware of what’s going on in your mind.
If you have a good idea for reminding yourself to practice watching your thoughts, or any other good idea to share with our online community, please comment below. Thanks!
Love and Blessings,