Most of us probably understand that our thoughts have a huge influence on our lives. As Roman stoic philosopher Seneca once said, “Everything hangs on one’s thinking—a man is as unhappy as he has convinced himself he is.”
If you’ve taken on the pervasive fear, anxiety, or anger that have become all too “normal” in recent times, take a step back and consider how these thoughts are serving you, and how a change in mindset may make all the difference.
A more positive mindset or one free of such negative attachments will allow you to go forward unfettered, to aim at the highest possible virtue, to use your innate gifts, and to fulfill your God-given potential.
Recognize Your Thoughts
No one in your life communicates more frequently with you than you do. Imagine being an objective observer of your own thoughts. What have you been communicating to yourself? Are you constantly repeating what you take in from the news or social media? Are you kind to yourself? Are you beating yourself up over what you should be doing or achieving?
Objectively observing your thoughts can be an eye-opening experience. It can be helpful to write down your thoughts as they come and see them for what they are.
Replace Your Thoughts
You’ll likely notice some thoughts you repeatedly think that aren’t true and aren’t serving you in any way. It can become a habit to think the same thing over and over again.
Aim to replace those thoughts with something that’s true and that does serve you. If you find fear, replace it with hope. If you find self-loathing, replace it with self-love. If you find resentment, replace it with compassion. Like any habit, you can choose to change your habit of negative thinking and replace it with a more positive outlook.
An easy way to shift your mindset in a positive direction is to take up a gratitude practice. Take pen to paper (or some digital note system if you must) and record at least five things you’re grateful for each day. If you’ve got air in your lungs, a roof over your head, food to eat, and people to share your life with, you’re off to a great start. Get specific, like the smell of the coffee as it brews in the morning, or the warmth of your blanket after a long and busy day.
There’s so much to be grateful for; taking time to recognize and appreciate these things is a simple and surefire way to set your mind in the right direction.
Remember Your Dreams
After the times we’ve been through, it may be worthwhile to step back and recall who you were before—maybe just before the pandemic, or way back to your childhood, or a time in your life when you were thriving—when you dreamed big and weren’t hindered by fears, worries, and limitations.
What were your thoughts then? What were your hopes for the future? What were you aiming for? What gifts and talents did you recognize in yourself? What did you believe your purpose in life was? What brought you joy? What did you find meaningful?
Set Your Sights on the Future
If you’ve lost hope for the future, it’s time to recapture that hope. Diving deep into your spiritual practice may be the most helpful way to do this. There is hope. You’ve just lost sight of it.
Once you feel hopeful, set some concrete goals for your future, both long-term and short-term ones, and devise a plan.