Exploring the role our thoughts play in our lives.
This week's column is not about "dirty" thoughts; it is about the power of our thoughts. The proven fact is that every thought-positive or negative, spoken aloud or not-creates a chemical response in the body. Positive thoughts upgrade our wellbeing; negative ones cause internal havoc on all levels. So the time is now to become aware of the powerful effects of our thoughts, and to know how to manage our minds so we can create thought patterns that help us thrive.
How many thoughts a day
Scientists estimate we have between a whopping 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts a day. The sobering fact of this research is that 70 to 80 percent of our thoughts every day are negative ones. Negative thoughts about anything or anyone, including ourselves, are toxic.
The toll of negative thoughts
One study was conducted on the impact of negative words on the human brain. Subjects were hooked up to instruments tracking the brain to measure what happens when a person hears the word "no." The result: Just hearing the word "no" temporarily disrupted each person's brain functioning.
It doesn't require a giant leap to imagine that a habit of negative self-talk and/or having harsh words repeatedly spoken to us, can pile up and create internal disaster.
Physical effects of negative thoughts include: impaired immune system, less energy, depression and anxiety. From the moment you have a negative thought, some of the damaging effects include: you feel worse and your self-confidence and self-worth are undermined. Over time this can lead to illness and serious disease.
Plus, our negative thoughts cause all this harm even if they are not based on anything objectively true.
The snowball effect
As if all this information isn't daunting enough, our negative thoughts also affect other people. We all know how it feels to be in the presence of a Debbie/Donny Downer.
Now magnify this times billions of people who are thinking 70 to 80 percent negative thoughts each day, and you have a new way to understand how we inadvertently contribute tons of negative energy to the global matrix.
Gratitude increases positive thoughts
Only positive thoughts stimulate the biochemistry of wellbeing for body, mind and spirit. This does not imply being a goody two shoes, faking the positives, or being out of touch with reality. Everyone has negative thoughts.
The discipline is to notice them without judging yourself and to quickly let them go by "changing the channel." Focusing on gratitude is a great "channel changing" tool. Gratitude shifts negativity and opens the heart. You can evoke gratitude for things large and small, from the sublime to the absurd. By the time you list and allow yourself to genuinely feel five things for which you are grateful, the negativity is gone.
Let's say you're being hard on yourself or beating yourself up about something. Go to gratitude.
Feel grateful you noticed a previously automatic negative thought.
Feel grateful you are alive.
Feel grateful the sun is shining.
Feel grateful there are people you love.
Feel grateful you live in Jackson Hole.
Feel grateful you have friends.
Feel grateful you can feel gratitude.
Feel grateful that you are the gatekeeper of your mind.
Research proves that when you make practicing gratitude a daily habit, the benefits accrue and endure. The mind gets clearer, you will feel happier, more confident, more optimistic and you will be physically healthier.
Looking at life through a half full glass is not just an airy-fairy thought; it is based on science. And, by the Law of Attraction, positive thoughts, beliefs and actions are what bring more of the same into our experience. Bring it on. PJH