If I look back at the picture of my life so far, I see patterns of waves. There are waves of high achievement and prosperity followed by waves of stagnation and routine. There are waves of growth and radical introspection followed by waves of unthinking apathy. There are waves of acute, transcendent happiness followed by waves of perpetual disappointment.
Despite what these juxtapositions suggest, I don’t have an extreme personality. I’ve had my moments like everyone else, but I’ve never been someone who swings regularly to either end of the emotional spectrum. I tend to reside in a fairly moderate space.
These waves, then, are not an indicator of my personality type, but an indicator of my thought patterns. When something good occurs in my life, I tend to focus (usually unconsciously) on the success and happiness I feel. As a result, I create more success and happiness for myself. When something unfortunate or disheartening occurs, I might do the opposite: I might remain in a negative space, then attract more negative experiences by focusing on my own self-pity or hurt.
Have you ever heard the expression, “when it rains it pours”? Since we are products of our thought patterns, we manifest the circumstances and events in our lives that reflect what we think at any given time. If we feel fulfilled, we manifest fulfillment. If we feel peaceful, we manifest peace. If we feel miserable, we manifest misery. If we feel confident, we manifest confidence. If we feel angry, we manifest anger.
Whatever we give our energy to—good, bad, or otherwise—we strengthen.
We all know those people who move through the world feeling continually victimized by their circumstances, who quite literally invite hardship into their lives by choosing to dwell in a negative mindset. Then there are those people who float through life seemingly unfettered by difficulty, who create abundant space for joy and love by removing their focus on everything else.
These patterns are no coincidence. They are the direct result of mindful thinking, of choosing to focus energy where it will best produce love.
There’s a two-step process to this. The first is learning to recognize when we are devoting our energy to the things that no longer serve us. Ask yourself the necessary questions: does it serve me to perpetuate my sadness over job rejections? Does it serve me to brew my own frustration at the traffic or the drivers ahead of me? Does it serve me to carry resentment for things people have said to me in the past?
The answer is always no.
Once we’re cognizant of this habit, the second step is learning to let go of whatever we clung to so that we might transfer our energy toward the people, ideas, and events that enrich our lives. And in times of challenge, heartache, and loss, it is all the more crucial to devote effort to channeling our energy in a positive direction—whether or not we initially feel positive.
Today and every day, let’s make the decision to practice mindful thinking, to embrace our roles as the sole authorities over our emotions, and to consciously determine how we are going to view every situation.
Our energy is powerful—let’s not waste it on what does not deserve to wield its power.
I’d love to know: what do you think of this concept? When and how do you practice mindful thinking?