Truth Byte #41
“Your thoughts have the power to change your life.”
Think about who you were ten years ago. What did you prioritize? How did you spend your time? Who were your closest friends? What was your general mood? Has a lot changed for you or is your life pretty much the same?
Have you ever met someone who, year after year, seems to be caught in the same rut? Are you that person yourself?
I am here to remind you that your thoughts can actually transform your entire life.
It can begin with a small, general, wishful though, something like “everything happens for a reason”. Because when you don’t let yourself believe things are happening for a reason, then you find yourself at the mercy of random events happening to you. And your bad mood tends to get activated a lot. Your kid misbehaving at a restaurant activates you. The laundry, damp two days in the dryer, activates you. The bumper to bumper traffic during construction activates you. Your spouse’s tone or look activates you. World events, continents away, activate you. Not having the right kind of coffee whitener activates you.
Everything becomes a trigger when you are not consciously directing your thoughts and attention.
I have seen this in my clients. Those who are focused on what they want, and are determined to have an ease-filled life of contentment tend to be more successful in therapy than those who spend sessions ruminating on problems and refusing to see their current challenges in a new way.
The thoughts that you continue to repeat in your mind eventually become beliefs.
And when you believe something, truly and deeply, you live your life as if it were true.
Let me give you an example.
Years ago, I truly believed, from the bottom of my heart, that life was about working hard, being disciplined, and being liked by people around me. I tried everything I could to be nice, to be thoughtful, to fulfill my commitments, and work harder and longer than all my peers.
I thought that if I did all these things, I would fit in, make my mark, and be happy.
But in reality, I was very very unhappy. Though I smiled a lot and never rocked the boat, I felt like a shell of myself. People close to me didn’t even really know me because I was so busy playing the part of “hard-working-nice-girl”.
And then things changed. In my Master’s program, I met people who were toying around with a whole different approach to life. They knew how to work hard, sure, but they didn’t prioritize hard work over connection. They didn’t prioritize being liked over being authentic. They didn’t keep their commitments at the expense of their own health or integrity. They didn’t take themselves so seriously, and they knew how to have fun without the guilty hangover.
My world opened up.
I saw, in just a few short months as I settled in to life in California with these new classmates, the value of living a life driven by a different measuring stick. What if connection, authenticity, personal integrity, and playfulness trumped those other things?
Finally, my life started feeling like it had meaning.
Fast forward ten years. My deepest belief today is that life was meant to be fun and easy, and that it’s natural for me to feel supported and celebrated.
And the more I believe that, the more it happens.
And I am not the only one who it’s working for. There is an entire field in mental health called “cognitive behavioral therapy” that focuses solely on shifting a person’s thoughts and behaviours for a more ease-filled life. Pair that with “positive psychology”, where the therapist focuses in strengths and enlists the client’s optimism, and voila, a recipe for a better mood and outlook.
And your mood does matter. Because when the exact same traffic jam happens and you are “Zen” about it, the disturbance does not bleed into the rest of your day. When you are feeling good and your kid or spouse or business partner snaps about something, you see it as a call for help rather than a personal attack. When you think about tragic world events, you find yourself sending thoughts of hope and help rather than despair and anger. When the coffee whitener is out, you just choose tea instead. It was time for a change anyway, right?
The choice is ultimately yours: to feel good or not? To change your thoughts or not? To stay stuck or move on?
So which one sounds better to you?