It’s tough. I believe that changing the way that you think is the hardest thing you’ll ever do, and it makes sense that it would be. After all, you’re thinking all the time, and there’s no way to monitor every thought that you have. The good news is that you don’t have to. Over the past couple of weeks on this journey, I’ve found shortcuts to short circuit negativity before it expands into a huge, black hole sucking all of the joy out of your day. Changing the track of your thinking is really a matter of changing the polarity of your viewpoint. These are easy to catch and modify to change your track of thought, but unfortunately they don’t conform to popular thinking. For example:
Instead of multitasking, focus on one thing at a time. I had to stop multi-tasking when I went through my last job change nearly five years ago because my new job duties were so complex that it was literally impossible for me to do it right unless I focused solely on what was in front of me. It’s the greatest gift I’ve ever been given, because I’ve been more productive these past five years than probably every other year before that! Simply put, you can’t have peaceful balance if your mind is fractured in a million different directions. You have to focus on what’s before you right now to be the most productive. Studies are starting to reveal that people who multitask are actually less productive and make more errors than people who do one thing at a time. It doesn’t surprise me, because I’ve seen it working over and over in my own life.
You’ll get resistance on this, but stand up to it. I remember one time a couple of years ago when I had three crises hit at once, and was under pressure from several people to solve it all immediately. I refused, stating that I’d deal with one crisis at a time. You know what? All three fires were put out in less than an hour, and to everybodys’ satisfaction. No errors, no feedback, no deterioration of efforts, no “oops, you forgot this or that,” no problems, because the solution stuck since I focused on each thing and took the time to act properly.
Instead of fretting, focus. It’s easy to let your emotions carry you away, but the truth is that they aren’t Calgon, and often they can take you places you don’t want to go. When your emotions take a dip and your find yourself anxious, worried, or depressed, take a moment to ask yourself why you feel this way. You may be surprised to find that you’ve caught yourself in a feedback loop over something completely irrelevant or irrational. Why? Not many people realize this, but emotions are also habits – we just have the reactions so quickly that we often don’t realize that we even had a decision making process just take place that turned our mood. Our minds take stock of things we say or hear and make judgments based on previous situations, many of which may be buried deep in the subconscious mind. Unfortunately, these judgments might be incorrect based on the current situation, and we don’t even realize that we’ve fooled ourselves into feeling something that we shouldn’t. The way to break to cycle is to stop and ask yourself: why do I feel this way?
Often, what’s happened is that we’ve experienced what my psychology professors in college referred to as “memory cues.” That means that you saw or heard something that reminded you of an event in your past that caused an extreme emotional reaction. It’s not a problem if it’s a good memory, but if it’s a bad one then you can get caught in an emotional trap for days, and you don’t need that. By stopping to focus and pray over how you feel and why, often you realize what it is that caused you to take the turn, put it in proper perspective, and regain your balance. Yes, it takes time and focus, but this is a meditation that’s worth doing right.
Or, you can use my trick. If I get anxious, I consider whatever is stuck on my mind as the devil turning it into a toy for his entertainment in my mind. I rebuke it in Christ and tell him to take his toys and get out. My brain isn’t Chuck-E-Cheez for that crap. The true definition of humility is to focus on God and His will for your life. You have to be where you’re at, and to walk in faith toward where He is leading you. Don’t get distracted by nonsense – focus on blessings!
Make decisions and stand by them – every day. If you want to wrap yourself I positivity, then you must sacrifice some things: whining, complaining, and most of all, pity. I’m not saying suck it up, buttercup. We all go through hard times, but the difference is in the focus. Do you focus on healing, or on hurting? Somebody once told me that you can’t choose whether you become a victim, but you can choose whether you stay a victim. Pity is the victim’s path. Is that the road you want to travel? You do have a choice. Make it. Choose to heal, to forgive, to let it go, and to move on to better days and better ways. Not just once, but every day, until it’s a habit that sticks.
Give yourself things to enjoy throughout the day. When my alarm clock goes off in the mornings, I don’t think “oh no, it’s time to go to work.” I think “it’s time to get up so I can see Rick and the birds, do my Bible reading, and have my coffee now.” We make the mistake of focusing on what we don’t want instead of what we do, and I’ll bet that if you take a look at your day, you’ll find many little things that you enjoy. Don’t discount the day of small things – after all, they are what make the big things. Do you enjoy that cup of coffee in the morning? The setup of your office? A peaceful lunch to yourself, or sharing it with family or friends? Do you have music you like to listen to on your commute? Enjoy dinner at home? Have TV shows or hobbies you enjoy at night? Focus on those benchmarks throughout your day instead of the drudgery of “what must be done.” You may even find hidden blessings in the grind of day to day life if you look enough!
Go AWOL on the war with the clock. I agree with Simple Abundance on many things, but the recent devotion on how too many women are whirling dervishes through the day just spinning through life instead of enjoying it struck me. I am sick and tired of fighting with the clock. Yes, I have a full life and many responsibilities, but I don’t remember enlisting in a war with time, and I’m not fighting this battle anymore. God gave us 24 hours in a day, and what He sets before us should be reasonably accomplished in that time. Understand, this isn’t a license to procrastinate. It means you need to find a balance and prioritize what needs to be done and what means the most to you, then focus on it and do it. Don’t forget to set aside time for rest and relaxation as well, because that’s as vital as paying the bills, family and pet care, and taking out the trash. There is a time to pull the rip cord, call it done for now, and take a time out.
Reject negativity. Or in other words, pick your friends carefully. “Down in the mouth” people that gossip and can find the cloud in any silver lining are poison to your soul, and you need to purge that from your life. I don’t care if they’re the “cool kids” or the ones with connections - tolerating anything that brings you down is self-sabotage, and you’re smarter than that. Don’t do yourself in. Surround yourself with people that uplift and inspire you. If you’re forced to deal with a “Debbie Downer” that can’t be purged, well, you’d be amazed at the power you have to minimize that contact and influence. You’d also be amazed at how an increase in positive power can expand your light enough to drive the vampires away from you.
Yes, this certainly flies in the face of convention, but which would you rather have: popularity or peace? I don’t know if the path to positivity wins friends and influences people, but it makes for a better everyday, and that’s where I’m living my life. How about you?
That’s all today. Take care. Have a Happy Friday and a wonderful weekend.