Have you ever thought about the fact that there is never a moment when you are not thinking—that whatever happens in this world begins with a thought? Here are five simple steps to help you manage your thoughts and achieve success and happiness in life
BE AWARE OF YOUR THOUGHTS
Start watching your thoughts, without identifying with them. Watch them as a detached observer.
You may even get carried away by your thoughts. Never mind. It is natural—especially for a beginner. What you need to do, whenever you detect this, is to take yourself out of your thoughts immediately and get back to the process of thought-watching once again as a detached observer.
Do not get perturbed by your thoughts. Don't condemn or justify them. Don't try to control them. Just watch them. After some time, you will come to know what your negative thoughts are about. Now concentrate on all the positive thoughts that you can replace these thoughts with, in order to switch over to a more positive attitude towards them. Our attempt should be to cut down the quantity of unnecessary thoughts and to improve the quality of the necessary ones. Keep yourself busy. Simple food, deep breathing and relaxation exercises also help manage your thoughts easily. Expect less from others.
IDENTIFY NEGATIVE THOUGHTS
Keep a logbook. Jot down your thoughts. Write down happenings of the day. Were they positive, appropriate and adequate or were they confused, superfluous and negative? Could you notice the interval between the happening and your response? If yes, could your foresee your negative thoughts? If not, what can, you do to notice this interval? Was there any discrepancy between words and thoughts? If yes, was it justified—could you find a better way of harmonizing your words and thoughts? Was the verbal response necessary, appropriate and adequate?
Sometimes we talk to others, or simply to ourselves, or think about something just like that. Ask yourself what provoked you to take the initiative to start a conversation. Was it essential? What was the purpose? Did it serve the purpose? If no, then why not? Did it use any unnecessary and emotionally charged negative words? Were the words used in thinking, inner dialogue or in talking to the other person, precise, appropriate, adequate and positive? Did you feel happy or satisfied after the interaction with the other person or with your inner self? Can you find ways of improving your performance as a thinker or a speaker?
Keep in mind that logbooks are meant to get you started and make you aware of your negative thoughts. It is far more important, however, to be aware of these thoughts when they are just taking birth, rather than leave them for later analysis.
Be conscious of the interval that separates the event from thoughts with which you respond to the event.
Imagine a strong sun radiating a powerful light. Use this mental sunshine to kill your negative, undesirable thoughts, emotions and images as and when these are detected. Take this sun as a mighty weapon which is always on the alert and which automatically chases any negative thought and kills it with a flash and then withdraws. Don't forget to imagine that this sun is your faithful friend and is extremely kind to you.
Keep a note of how many times you need to call the sun for its services. There will be a gradual increase, followed by a drastic fall. This is so because initially the number of times you call on your mental sunshine increases gradually as your awareness of your thoughts grows.
The drastic fall is because what we do not use (the negative thoughts, in this case), we tend to lose.
REPLACE WlTH POSITIVE THOUGHTS
A vital step in this process is the immediate replacement of all negative thoughts by the positive ones. The shorter the interval between the disinfecting and the replacing stage, the better it is. Longer intervals between these two events weaken the impact of the positive thoughts. Our success and happiness depend on identifying our goals precisely and chasing them effectively, both of which, in turn, depend on how well we manage our thoughts. The quality of our thoughts decides the quality of the outcomes we land up with. Thoughts have the power to materialize themselves because they are instrumental in channeling energy towards the physical or mental condition they are about.
External situations and the remarks of others can harm us through our thoughts—but only to the extent our thoughts allow them to. So think positive. Talk positive. Read positive quotable quotes of great people. Surround yourself with posters and cards bearing positive messages. Keep them on your table. Hang them on the walls. Paste them near the bathroom mirror and on the doors. Stick them on your watchstrap. Keep them on the refrigerator. Have them on the dashboard of the car. Slip them under the glass of the table in front of you. Slide them in the inner side of the briefcase you carry. Find other suitable places where you are bound to look at them every day.
Remember that these messages will stale with prolonged use. So keep changing their position and contents. Do not let the momentum of these thoughts get weaker.
Use them appropriately in response to specific negative thoughts. The replacing thought must be positive in every sense. Apart from being inspiring and assuring, it should also be suggestive. For example, if you confront a negative thought, "I can never succeed", it will not suffice if you replace it with "Sun! Attack! I can succeed". This kind of replacement may not be effective, for it sounds like wishful thinking and lacks assurance, depth and penetrating certainty. It is better to break your replacing thought down into more definite and specific steps or instructions.
The replacing thought in this case may be: "I can succeed. By earlier failures I have become rich in experience and have come to know specific areas that require special attention. I will jot them down and systematically think of the ways in which I can improve. I shall plan. And then stick to it. There is absolutely no reason why I should not succeed. I will assess, plan, execute, monitor, modify and carryon with the plan, and finally succeed. In fact, I think that success has already been achieved and only time separates my thought of success and its transformation into reality. I am committing myself to all that is required to achieve success. I am a river that knows no obstacles. I shall find my way anyhow—and if there is none I shall make one."
Thoughts like these can be further reinforced with emotions and images. All this may take longer than one single replacing thought, but these are far more effective since they allow you to divide the desired target into workable units. Focus on a pleasant event that took place in the past. This way your thoughts will turn positive and your emotions and images will reinforce each other, resulting in an overall positive attitude.