Did you know that you have an estimated 70,000 thoughts per day? That is 70,000 chances to build yourself up or tear yourself down.
If you call yourself names, doubt your abilities, and second-guess your decisions, you will harm your performance and most likely you will also be risking your physical and psychological health. But here is the good news you can change the way you think.
Here are five exercises that can train your brain to help you achieve happiness and success:
- Differentiate between just ruminating or “wool-gathering” and actual problem-solving.
Thinking about strategies that would help you overcome an obstacle is helpful, however imagining yourself unable to tolerate pain isn’t productive. Whenever you find yourself thinking about something for an extended time, take a minute to consider whether you are just ruminating or actually problem-solving.
If you are actively solving or preventing problems, keep processing. However, if you are simply rehashing things that already happened or making catastrophic predictions about things you cannot control, change the channel. Get up and do something to get your mind off the issue and then try to keep your brain focused on more productive activities.
- Give yourself the same advice you would give to a trusted friend.
If you are like most people, there is a very good chance you are overly critical of yourself. But beating yourself up and magnifying your mistakes will only drag you down. Mistakes are opportunities to learn so we need to fix what we can, try not to repeat the mistake and then move on.
Studies have linked self-compassion to everything from improved psychological well-being and better body image to enhanced self-worth and increased motivation. So make it a habit of speaking to yourself in the same way you would speak to a trusted friend because there is just no point in continually “beating yourself up” over something that is already done and past.
- Label your emotions.
Most people have an aversion to talking about or showing their feelings. As a result, many people have become quite distanced from their feelings, which makes it hard for them to even recognize how they are feeling at any given moment or in any situation.
When adults do label their feelings, they often do it in an indirect manner. Rather than saying, “I felt sad,” someone might say, “I had a lump in my throat,” or, “My eyes got watery.” Or, instead of saying, “I am really nervous,” someone might be more included to say, “I have butterflies in my stomach.”
Spend a few minutes every day acknowledging your emotional state. Label your feelings and consider how those emotions are likely to affect your decisions.
Whether you are feeling sad about something in your personal life, or you are worried about something going on in the office, your emotions will spill over into other areas of your life if you aren’t aware of them. This can cause more issues and more stress. No one needs more stress in their life, so control what you can and employ stress deflecting strategies when things happen beyond your control.
- Balance your emotions with logic.
Whether you are faced with a tough financial decision, or you are experiencing a family dilemma, you will make your best decisions when you are able to balance your emotions with logic. When your emotions are running high, take the steps necessary to increase your rational thinking.
The best way to balance your emotions is to create a list of the pros and cons of your choices. Reading over that list can help take some of the emotion out of the decision and equip you to make the best decisions.
- Practice gratitude.
So whether you make it a habit of talking about what you are grateful for over breakfast every morning, or you write in a gratitude journal before bed, train your brain to look for the good and positives in life. It could be the simplest, yet most effective way to boost your well-being.
Create a Healthy Mindset
The conversations you have with yourself have a profound effect on your life. If you want to reach your greatest potential, it is important to build your mental muscle. Exercise your brain every day and over time, you will train your brain for happiness and success. Remember, the only thing you have complete control over in your life is your attitude. If you always espouse a negative approach you will generally be unhappy and make those around you uncomfortable as well. However, if you generally espouse a positive attitude and face every challenge with the approach that you can fix it and move on, you will be happier and much more successful. In addition, others will be happy around you as well.