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How to Improve Your Life by Making Your Thoughts Work for You

Bill Abbate
Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

How often do you think about your thoughts? From where do our thoughts originate? At times they appear to come out of thin air. At other times we get so wrapped up in our thoughts we can think of nothing else. Then there are those times when thinking too much or too hard about something can give you a headache.

Are thoughts just a result of the chemical soup in our brains? Or is there something else, something behind the creation of thought? When you begin giving thought to your thoughts you inevitably wind up with more questions than answers. Yet those questions are thoughts as well!

"Our acts can be no wiser than our thoughts." George Samuel Clason (1874-1957)

Considering our lives consist of and result from our thoughts, perhaps we should think about them now and then. If this is true, what about the thoughts beneath or in back of our regular thoughts - our innermost thoughts? You know, those thoughts no one else can ever know. Or at least you don't want anyone else to know them.

What makes us think such thoughts? Why do we keep them so private? Heaven forbid someone finds out about these sometimes deep and dark thoughts. Fortunately, no one can read our minds, and no such equipment exists yet that can extract them. But then, the one who created all knows them. That is not a pleasant thought!

Thinking about thoughts

It is a simple matter to examine our thoughts at a higher level. To go deep into our thoughts often requires considerable time and the help of someone else. Let's look at what is closer to the surface as a way to gain a better understanding of our thought life.

Many thoughts are fleeting, so rather than attempt to understand these, let's look at what is more at the front of your mind. While these thoughts also change over time, notice what presently captures your interest.

If you have recently fallen in love, you likely have many thoughts about this person. Is there something about which you are very excited? It could be a hobby, a new car, a new book, or something else that has caught your attention. It could be an activity or something physical, but it is at the forefront of your mind much of the time.

These kinds of thoughts last for a while then slowly wain. Soon enough, something will come along to supplant them. Such is life with our thoughts - they come and go, and at times come back again only to be replaced later by something else.

If you have worries or cares, you can bet they occupy some or much of your thoughts. These too are often for a time and disappear when the concern ends or the next worry comes along.

While examining what has currently captured your thoughts can be of interest, it may not affect who you are and who you are becoming. To find an opportunity to change our thoughts, we must survey a wider swath of our thinking.

Understanding our thoughts

Rather than looking at a specific thought, consider the overall nature of your thoughts. Another way to say this is let's consider your general disposition.

Think about your thoughts so far today. Have they been more positive or optimistic, more negative or pessimistic, or rather neutral? How about the past week? How would you consider them to be for the past year? How about for your life?

Do you frequently have thoughts about bad things happening, or how someone is treating you unfairly, and other such negative or pessimistic thoughts?

Consider the opposite of these - the positive or optimistic thoughts you have. Have you had many of them today or during the past week?

An article published by the National Science Foundation states the average person has between 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day, of which 80% are negative, while 95% of the thoughts are repetitive! When you consider that your thoughts create the life you live, Is it any wonder so many people struggle? This means if you are average, your thoughts are far more negative and pessimistic than positive or optimistic.

Who controls your thinking?

You can examine who is in charge of your thoughts by asking yourself - "Who controls my thoughts?"

You will likely say, "Well, I do, of course!"

But do you? Do you control them, or do they control you? Again, if you are like the vast majority of people, you do not give much thought to your thoughts, and they are primarily negative. Do you really want to be negative most of the time in your life? I thought not!

This can mean only one thing, you are not completely in control of your thoughts but are subject to their control much of the time.

Since our thoughts control our mood and attitude, what we do, how well we do it, who we are, and most importantly, who we are becoming, it would seem we have a vested interest in better understanding and controlling our thoughts!

Gaining control of your thoughts

There is a simple term used for what you control and what controls you. You can find it two paragraphs back – "subject." You can typically use subject in one of two ways:

  • You can be subject to something else
  • You can make that something subject to you.

When you are subject to something, it means you are unaware of it. It controls you. You are often subject to your thoughts, unaware of their control over you and your life.

When you make something subject to you, you gain control over it. You can make your thoughts subject to you by simply becoming aware of what you are thinking. As you increase this awareness, you increase your ability to control your thoughts. Better you are in control, don't you think?

"As a person thinks, feels, and believes, so is the condition of his or her mind, body, and circumstances." Joseph Murphy (1898-1981)

Changing your thoughts

It is a simple matter to understand how to change your overall thoughts or general disposition to more positivity and optimism. Yet, it may take considerable effort on your part. Will it be worth the trouble? You bet it will!

The bottom line to changing your thoughts is to raise your awareness of them and making a conscious decision to control them. This will allow you to shift from being subject to your thoughts to make them subject to you.

To increase your thought awareness, you must slow down or stop to think about your thoughts. Then you can begin to take control of them, making them subject to you. Otherwise, they will continue to control you. Do you like someone or something else controlling you? Better you are in control than someone or something else!

Final thoughts

Taking time to think about or reflect on your thoughts is crucial to living the best possible life. If you never stop to reflect, you learn less, have less control over your life, receive less, and can give less to those you love.

Why not begin to practice today. Stop to reflect on your thoughts. Then cherish someone you love. Take in the beauty of the day. Smell the roses. Savor the flavor of something decadent. Create joy deep in your heart. That is what life is about - learning to enjoy it rather than letting it fly by so quickly it is over before you know it.

Strive to turn your thoughts to the positive and optimistic. The more you expend energy in doing so, the greater the rewards in your life will become.

I leave you with some words of wisdom in the following quote:

"You become what you think about all day long." Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

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Semi-Retired-Leadership/Executive Coach -Personal & Career Growth Expert -Editor and Leadership Writer at Illumination -Author

Richmond, VA

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