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Thoughts and Thinking

Bill Abbate

How often do you think about thinking or wonder why you have the thoughts you do? Where do they come from? Out of thin air? It may seem like it at times, but there must be more to it than that.

What about those times you get so wrapped up in your thoughts you have little room to think about anything else? Let’s look at our thoughts and how they can help us live a better life!

Thinking about thoughts

Are thoughts only a result of the chemical soup in our brains, or is there something else behind their creation? If you are like most of us, when you begin thinking about your thoughts, you 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)

It didn’t dawn on me until I was around 30 that our lives consist of and result from our thoughts. Then, I realized they come from somewhere beneath or behind our regular thoughts. Somehow, our innermost thoughts, which we may never reveal to anyone, affect what we think.

What makes us think these deeper, inner thoughts? Why do we keep them so private? Heaven forbid someone would find out about them! They can sometimes be deep and dark for many. Fortunately, no one can read our minds, and nothing can extract our thoughts. But the one who created everything knows our every thought. Now, that is not a pleasant thought, is it?

Higher level thinking

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 change over time, notice what presently captures your interest.

If you recently fell in love, you likely have many thoughts about that person. Is there anything you are excited about? It could be a hobby, a new car, a book, or something else that has captured your attention. It could also be an activity or something physical that is often at the forefront of your mind.

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 sometimes come back again, only to be replaced by something else.

If you have worries or cares, you can bet they occupy your thoughts. These also often disappear when the concern ends, or the next worry comes along.

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

Understanding your thoughts

Consider the overall nature of your thoughts rather than looking at a specific one. You can do this by noticing your general disposition.

What are your thoughts so far today? Have they been more optimistic, pessimistic, or relatively neutral? How about the past week? How would you consider them to be for the past year? How about for your entire life?

Do you frequently think about bad things happening, how someone mistreats you, and other negative 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% are repetitive! When you consider that your thoughts create your life, Is it any wonder why so many people struggle? If you are average, your thoughts are far more pessimistic than optimistic.

Who controls your thinking?

You can examine who controls 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 most people, you do not give much thought to your primarily negative thoughts. Do you really want to be negative most of your life? I thought not!

This can mean only one thing: you are not entirely 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 for what you control and what controls you. You can find it two paragraphs back — “subject.” Two ways you can look at this term include:

· You can be unconsciously subject to something else. It controls you.

·You can consciously make that something subject to you. You control it.

When you are subject to something, it means you are unaware of it, and it is in control. 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 becoming aware of them. 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

Changing your overall thoughts or general disposition to become more positive is a simple matter. Yet, it may take considerable effort on your part. Will it be worth the trouble? You bet!

The bottom line to changing your thoughts is raising your awareness of them and consciously deciding to control them. When you take control, you shift from being subject to your thoughts to making them subject to you.

To increase your thought awareness, you must slow down or stop to think about your thoughts. Then, you can 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 consciously in control than someone or something else, especially your own negativity!

You can do this anytime by pausing and asking yourself the following questions:

“What is happening here?”

“Is this thought (or are my thoughts) controlling me in this situation?”

“What do I want to do about it?”

Final thoughts

Thinking about and reflecting on your thoughts is crucial to living your best life. If you never stop to think and 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. The more you expend energy in doing so, the greater the rewards in your life will become.

I leave you with the following words of wisdom from one of the literary greats:

“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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