How we FEEL is always the direct result of what we think.
Managing your mind and deciding what you want to think is the secret to creating a happy life. Don’t believe me? Let’s say for example that you have been let go from a job you love, through no fault of your own. Some people think being fired causes the emotions that follow, but the situation is ALWAYS neutral.
The situation is not good or bad, it simply is. The story we attach to the situation causes us to see it as positive or negative.
Our thoughts cause our emotions.
The thoughts we choose cause the emotions that follow.
*Neutral Situation = employment status
Thought choice # 1 – Negative thoughts: Oh my God! I got fired! What will I do for money? I have no savings and it might be months before I find a job! How dare they let me go after all I have given this company! Why is this happening to me? I’ll probably never find a job that pays this well again. WHAT will I do without benefits? What will people think? I’ve been fired from a job I love! This is the end of the world. I can’t believe they would do this to me! I’ll be out of money before I find work! This is a disaster! What will I tell my family?! This is the WORST time to be unemployed! I need to take the FIRST thing I can find so I can pay my bills, no matter how awful it is or how miserable it makes me. This is terrible, terrible news!
Emotions created by thoughts – fear, anxiety, frustration
*Neutral Situation = employment status
Thought choice # 2 – Positive thoughts: What a wonderful opportunity to find work that I am passionate about! This seems like just the right time to move on to bigger things. I have no idea what comes next for my career, but it’s going to be wonderful! I am embarking on the next segment of my ever-improving professional life! What do I want to do next? What really excites me? This is so unexpected and delightful! I feel like a door has opened to a room FULL of opportunity! There is a purpose to everything. I think something wonderful is about to unfold! What PERFECT timing for something new and exciting!
Emotions created by thoughts – excitement, hope, enthusiasm
How can there be such different emotional outcomes from the SAME situation? The situation is neutral – it cannot cause emotions.
The thoughts we CHOOSE to think cause the emotions we feel. Period.
It requires some effort to improve our thoughts, but it’s totally worth it because, here’s the kicker;
Our emotions drive our actions.
We sometimes think that our actions are based on our logical thoughts. If that were true, we would all be fit and active because logically we KNOW that eating right and staying active keeps us healthy, happy, and living longer. We frequently set intentions to eat healthier options, or to increase our activity levels.
But what usually happens when we “don’t feel like it”?
Does that feeling drive the action, or is it the logical decision we have made to eat right and work out?
Right? Nine times out of ten “not feeling like it” trumps our healthy intentions and we end up on the couch watching Netflix with a bag of potato chips instead of going for a walk or making a salad. To create new actions that align with our intentions, we want to think thoughts that cause the emotions required to drive our actions.
In other words, instead of just thinking whatever thoughts you normally think that result in the actions you normally take, decide what actions you WANT to take, and then figure out what kind of thoughts will drive you to those actions.
For example, let’s say that our intention is to be active for 20 minutes after work, and eat a salad once a day toward our goal of being more healthy and fit.
Possible Thoughts and Probable Outcomes
I need to lose weight, so I have to take action.
I HAVE to find a way to be more active and eat right.
The last thing I want to do after a long day is work out!
I get so TIRED of making salad every day!
I’ve tried and failed to lose weight my whole life!
This never gets easier.
PROBABLY not going to motivate anyone off the couch and away from the frozen pizza that’s fast, easy, and calling their name.
Those thoughts are easy to come by. They pop into mind with no trouble at all, bringing with them all variety of doubts, second guessing and even more unhelpful, demotivating thoughts.
What will change if we try thoughts like these?
I want to feel energized, so I am taking action!
I ENJOY the way I feel when I move my body every day!
I enjoy finding new ingredients to make salads interesting.
The last thing I want is to feel worn down.
Staying active keeps my energy high!
Chopping salad honors my health and brings me closer to my goal!
It takes less time to make salad than it does to earn money for pizza!
One small step each day leads to my success!
Today is the only day I need to focus on.
I make the effort because I want vibrant health and well being!
I have learned a LOT from past attempts, and can avoid pitfalls.
This time I am determined and will stop for nothing!
I have listed all obstacles that have prevented me from reaching my goal in the past, and created a strategy to deal with each one.
THIS is the way I reach my goals!
These thoughts take slightly more effort to conjure and require PRACTICE. They pop out of mind much more easily than they pop in, but they are worth the effort because they bring with them
1) confidence that you can reach your goal, 2) courage to keep trying even if things don’t go exactly as planned, and 3) more thoughts that keep you feeling encouraged and moving forward.
It’s easy to see that these thoughts have a better chance of motivating a person away from the pizza and onto the elliptical, right?
So what TEA am I brewing?
TEA = Thoughts. Emotions. Actions.
Thoughts cause emotions. Emotions drive actions.
To drive the actions we WANT, we need to choose thoughts that generate the emotions that drive us in the direction we want to go.
“I hate salad!” drives us one way.
“I make salad daily to bring me into alignment with my intentions, and help reach my goals!” drives us another way entirely.
To reach the destination we desire, we need to find the driver (create the emotion) heading to that destination!
What TEA are you brewing?
What thoughts are keeping you from your goals?
What thoughts can you choose to practice instead?