Wellness in North County: Changing Your Mind

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Most people agree that we are what we eat, but fewer understand that we are also what we think. While controlling what goes into the mouth is difficult, it can be even more difficult controlling what comes out of the mouth, which in turn is governed by our thoughts. Endless volumes have been written on the benefits of positive thinking, but holding a positive thought in a negatively charged world (observe the evening news) is not easily accomplished. Still, while better mental control can be difficult to achieve, it is not impossible.

Some of the proven methods of thought control come through ancient practices of meditation. Among these, Eastern meditation tends to concentrate on emptying the mind, while Western meditation tends to be more concerned with controlling it. If you are like me, you realize that negative thinking is damaging to productivity, health and happiness. We can be gripped with FEAR(False Evidence Appearing Real) of a future we have little control over. And, while we can’t control things like tomorrow’s weather or the price of eggs, we can control our attitudes toward these changes.

If you are like me, you may have willed yourself to change your thinking only to realize that even the best intentions are not enough to achieve any lasting results. The following are some proven methods for changing your mind:

1) Connect with a higher power. Having faith in something greater than yourself can change the way you think about everything. Some people call it Mother Nature, others call it the ocean, the Universe or God. Many people from AA swear by this step, and find a great deal of serenity in it.

2) Realize that you have limited control over your life. While this can be a frightening concept initially, it is freeing once you get it. Note that while you were reading this, the world within you and without you changed, and you had little or nothing to do with it. The earth was moving around the sun, you were breathing, your heart was beating, and your fingernails were growing without any help from you.

3) Learn something about neuroscience and neuroplasticity. The brain is like a soft plastic and can be altered for the better when given the right signals. While the brain was once thought to be hard wired, neuroscientists have recently found that it can be altered through both external and internal experiences. Through various practices like meditation, undesirable habits can be changed in a matter of weeks. Many people report being able to rid themselves of lifelong phobias and to drop habits like smoking without drugs or psychological treatment.

4) You are what you think. Or, as the old saying concerning computers goes “garbage in, garbage out.” Do you drift off to sleep with the evening news telling you about disasters you can do nothing about? Instead, you might consider playing a game with a friend, dancing to a favorite song, or reading a book that reinforces the best humanity has to offer. Becoming the person you want to be is as simple as changing your mind.

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