Thinking is arguably the most important function we have. It determines everything we do. It dictates our mood.
With this blog, I aim to promote depth and quality of thought in order to improve lives.
But everyone should be aware that there is a dark side to deep, analytical thinking. It involves thinking obsessively about negative things – events, situations, experiences, etc. There is research that shows the danger of this mental fixation on the negative.
We Are What We Think
Why engage in deep thinking in the first place?
Do so to increase your awareness – of yourself, your situation, your world, and your habits. With increased awareness, you are better informed to make critical daily decisions about how you life your life. You will learn more from mistakes and possess greater understanding about what has succeeded in the past and why.
The important caveat to the practice of deep thinking and being “mentally aware” is focusing on negative things. The mind is very capable, but it can be tricked easily. When we focus on negative events obsessively, a negative feedback loop can form in our mind.
In the research I referenced earlier, it says that each time a person struggles with depression, the chance of recurrence increases by 16%. This is because the mind is developing a habitual depressive response to certain negative stimuli – and habits are difficult to break.
In the worst month of my life, I suffered through a negative feedback loop of anxiety. My anxiety propagated more anxiety, which made me anxious…
Once I realized that I was suffering from anxiety, I was able to right the ship by training myself to respond differently to negative stimuli and to any signs of anxiety. I chose not to empower my anxiety by essentially ignoring it. Anxiety isn’t a problem that I need to tend to – it’s a problem that arises from pure fear (and even fear of fear!).
Remove fear and anxiety subsides.
Think Happy Thoughts
I don’t believe that it can possibly be overstated that humans benefit tremendously from positive thinking. I’m sure you’ve heard this advice before, but do you understand how effective it is?
Though I am not equipped to back this up with indisputable science, I believe that the ratio of positive-to-negative thoughts dramatically affects our mental health and perception of the world. If you consider our minds’ tendencies to form habitual responses to stimuli, it makes perfect sense. If the mind is always focusing on negative events and problems – then it will always expect negative events and problems to exist.
The world is brimming full of negative and positive things. Homicides occur every day. Babies are born every day. Getting fired is scary, but it means new opportunities and a little vacation!
Maybe your shoulder hurts, but you’re writing a brilliant book. Focus on the book and let the shoulder heal.
You have a choice. You can be positive and full of life or you can be the opposite. If you find yourself dwelling on the negative – twist it, spin it, and bop it until you see the positive side of it. If there is no positive side, then choose to think about something else that is positive.
Negative events, however, should never be ignored. They serve as the most vital learning tools by teaching us what doesn’t work. But only think about these negative things as much as absolutely necessary! Anything more than the bare minimum is fruitless and possibly harmful.
So you broke your arm. Yeah, that sucks…but thinking about how terrible it is will not make it heal any faster. You just need to learn that you can’t clothes-line a buffalo. The arm will heal on its own with time, so why not get excited about reading those books you have been too busy to read? Why not take this bed-ridden opportunity to watch LOST? Why not get excited about football season?
If you need to care for the arm, then by all means put it into the schedule. If you can accelerate healing with therapy, that’s great! Those things are positive actions that provide better results.
Of course, I’m absolutely preaching to myself right now. I am sloooooowly recovering from a shoulder injury, but I’m still blogging!
Shield your mind from unnecessary negativity and nourish it with positive vibes!