An Easy Recipe for Peace of Mind
Yesterday as I was packing my lunch in my new EasyLunchbox, I was appreciating how the dividers make it so easy for me to portion control my lunch as well as separate the things I don’t want to mix together (like my strawberries and egg salad). I began thinking about how valuable portion control is, especially when we are trying to achieve or maintain a balanced and healthy weight. The same principle of portion control can be applied to creating a healthier state of mind!
Our thoughts influence our experience of life more than any other factor because our attitude and feelings are a direct response to the thoughts we are thinking. Have you ever noticed when you left the house thinking positive thoughts that your day seemed to go a little better than usual? Not just because good things happened to you but simply because you felt better? On the contrary, you may have noticed that when your mind is full of negative thoughts you feel less motivated and more stressed.
We spend way too much time and energy being self-critical, worrying about things we do not have control over, and thinking about how we wish things could be different. It’s natural for us all to have negative thoughts and feelings, we’re humans. The problem is that we over-indulge in thoughts that do not serve us. To have an increased peace of mind, we have to be mindful of what we are thinking. We don’t always have a choice about what happens to us in life, but we do have a choice about what we choose to think about it.
Years ago I was going through a very bad break-up. With each challenging day that went by, I felt more depressed and hopeless. I noticed that I spent the majority of my day thinking about my ex, what happened, what I did wrong, and all kinds of other thoughts that just kept me in the state of feeling awful. I realized that my mind was working against me and anti-depressants (or a lobotomy!) seemed like my only option.
Be the Boss of Your Mind
Until I had an idea… I could be the boss of my mind rather than allowing it to continue being the boss of me. My first move as boss was to designate a time when I was “allowed” to think negative thoughts. In other words, I practiced portion controlling my thoughts! Since I couldn’t forget about the break-up entirely (just like we cannot give up food entirely) I set the intention to designate a time when I was “allowed” to think negative thoughts. For 15 minutes every morning and 15 minutes every evening, I had permission to think about the relationship and feel all the emotions that accompanied those thoughts. Then for 15 minutes in the middle of the day, I used my mind to think positive thoughts of gratitude. The rest of the day, I committed to keeping my thoughts in the present moment. Each time a thought would pop in about the break-up or my ex, I would inwardly say “Stop, it’s not time for that now, you can think those thoughts during the designated time.”
Practicing this kind of portion control thinking was incredibly healing for me. Not only did I start to feel better, but the 15 minutes each day and night that were my designated times to think about the break-up began to feel less necessary. By 7 or 8 minutes in, I felt “full.” The craving to gorge myself with the negative thoughts began to decrease until those 15 minutes allotted for negativity shifted to 15 minutes of visualizing all the amazing things I wanted to create in my life. After about a month of practicing portion-controlled thinking, I finally experienced more peace of mind. No thought-diet pills required!
The other portion control tool I utilized was not allowing depressing thoughts to ruin the taste of a happy moment. For instance, my break-up was about six weeks before the holidays, which is not the most ideal time to be dealing with heartache. I knew that allowing thoughts of my break-up to mix in with magical moments like Christmas dinner with my family would spoil it; just like egg salad would sour the taste of my sweet strawberries in my EasyLunchbox if they did not remain separate.
Tips to practice portion controlled thinking:
- Keep a thought journal of the type of thoughts you are currently consuming. Just like you would keep a food journal if you were intending to release weight, track your thoughts. This will increase your awareness of the type of thoughts you are thinking. Sometimes negative thoughts become so habitual, we do not even realize how much we are indulging in them. I recommend keeping a small journal with you and tracking your thoughts every 1-2 hours for five days.
- Categorize your thoughts by reviewing your thought journal after five days and identifying the main thought types you consume. Look for themes or patterns such as: thoughts about the future, thoughts about the past, self-critical thoughts, thoughts about others, worrisome thoughts, positive thoughts, negative thoughts, creative thoughts, inspiring thoughts, and so on.
- Create your thought diet utilizing portion control. Evaluate where you need to exercise some portion control by first identifying the types of thoughts that have a high negativity count. Since it is challenging to go cold turkey, especially if you are a worrywart, designate a portion of your day to consume these thoughts. After about two weeks, modify your times so you are consuming more thoughts that make you feel good. Give those affirming thoughts a much bigger portion!
- Don’t spoil your dessert by allowing negative thoughts about the future or the past to creep into the magical moment of the present. During times where joy and love are present and available, do not miss out by mixing in thoughts that shift you into feelings of worry, fear, sadness, and so on.
- Go to the mental gym on a regular basis by exposing your mind to life affirming thoughts. Read an uplifting quote, listen to inspiring lyrics from a song, or sign up for a daily email reminder. A great resource is the daily Law of Attraction quote from Abraham-Hicks.
By exercising mental portion control – spending more time thinking thoughts that make you feel good and less time thinking thoughts that don’t – you will soon discover more peace of mind. Now that’s something to think about!
Christine Hassler left her successful job as a Hollywood agent at 25 in pursuit of a life she could be passionate about. After being inspired by her own unexpected challenges and experiences, she wrote Twenty-Something, Twenty-Everything, the first guidebook to help twenty-somethings answer the questions: “Who am I, what do I want and how do I get it?” Her next book, Twenty-Something Manifesto: Quarter Lifers Speak out About Who They Are, What They Want, and How to Get It, highlights stories and experiences unique to this generation. As a Gen Y expert, life coach, professional speaker, and author, Christine has appeared on The Today Show, CNN, and PBS, as well as various local television and radio shows, speaking about life issues and “Expectation Hangovers”–- a phenomenon she identified and trademarked. Follow Christine on Facebook and Twitter.