This past Christmas I had sent a text message to my sister-in-law asking her about what she thought of one of her gifts and whether she liked it or not. She kindly responded that she loved it and that I needed to stop the 'mental chatter'. I couldn't help but smirk to myself and chuckle. Mental chatter.... clever.
A few years ago I began to truly realize that the quality of my life was being determined by my quality of my thoughts. I came to an understanding that despite my best efforts, I cannot control everything that happens in my life, however, I CAN control my thought process. The constant over analyzing and harboring of worry, anger and fear was only serving to make things MORE difficult. These 'runaway' thoughts were able to consume my mind and steal my ability to see the joy in anything else! It was obvious that I had two options before me - remain allowing my thoughts to get the best of me and my days, or change the way I thought.
Life will always be inundated with a constant stream of thoughts internally chit-chatting away with ideas, imaginations, concerns, questions, replays of happy events, nagging upsetting events, and way too many 'things' to ever list. This mental chatter is the most intimate, secretive and direct reflection of who we are and our outlook on life. It is what leads us through our day - the precursor that determines everything we do. While we can't effectively silence the chatter, we can train ourselves to sift through the ruckus. By becoming more aware of what is going on in our mind, we can start actually listening to what we are thinking. As we begin listening, we are able to ask ourselves a few very simple questions to help keep our thoughts in perspective...
- "Is what I am thinking rational and factual to what is going on, or have my thoughts become runaways that are exaggerated?" (If factual, what can I do to modify the situation? If exaggerated, let's slow myself down, focus on the facts of the situation and determine what my best course of action is.)
- "Is worrying about 'X' going to change the outcome?" (The answer to this one is always NO! So, I will take it as it comes, accept it, and jovially move on with life.)
- "Is getting upset about 'X' going to change the fact that it happened/is happening?" (Again, always a big, fat NO!)
By determining what issues at hand can actually be influenced by a response or action, we become better able to prioritize what actually needs our attention and what we need to let go of and move on from. This will instantly cut down on the mental clutter that may be clouding your outlook on life and reducing it's quality. Why ruminate on the things we cannot change that are weighing us down? Instead, use that brain space for that which is useful and positive. Remember - we ARE our thoughts! If you cannot see the good in life, you cannot be the good in life!
Next time you find yourself worrying or feeling upset about something, try asking those three little questions and answering them honestly. It's not always easy and will always be a work in progress, as life will never be devoid of stressors, but gaining the ability to brush off and maybe even laugh at those things that fall under the 'not worth another thought' category can make all the difference in how you view and behave in your day. Before you know it, a brighter, happier disposition will be second nature and you'll be asking yourself why you spent so long living under that rain cloud!
Have a wonderful weekend! Stay Happy!