Updated: Jul 27, 2019
Some say ‘you are what you eat’, some others say ‘you are who you spend your time with’, and some (who have the money to back it up 😉 )might say ‘you are who you wear’…There’s truth in all of those, I guess. But more so than any other, I live by the philosophy that ‘YOU are WHAT YOU THINK YOU ARE’.
The mind is everything. What you think you become.
We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow untouched by darkness.
Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.
– Gautama Buddha
Not that simple, unfortunately.
Around the globe, scientists to thinkers and philosophers to present day tycoons of industry, professional sports people to motivators, teachers and all round happy and positive people agree – you become what you spend your time thinking about.
A quick google search will bring up the benefits of positive thinking, but as a mindfulness practitioner and habitual-happy-thought-thinker myself, I will speak simply from experience.
If you believe you can be or do something, you will behave in a way that facilitates that. If you believe you cannot, then you shall not. This is how I (try to) live. Seems too easy right? Well it’s not. Not that simple at all.
Our minds can land us in territory that we, as humans and users of that squishy zombie bait, tend to find unfamiliar and often downright terrifying.
Simply speaking, our brain is out to get us. A Modern Psychology and Buddhism course that I have taken (and continue to take again and again – hurrah for lifetime access) taught by Robert Wright gives a plain and simple explanation; I’m paraphrasing; natural selection wants us to survive, so our brains are wired to keep us safe. To which you might say, 'well that’s not a bad thing'…sure, fight or flight response etc.
But that comes with a side order of Automatic Negative Thoughts, that run like a soundtrack to our lives. Thoughts of not being good enough, not being smart enough, being too slow, too thin, not thin enough, comparing, judging, negativity over and over again.
And if we don’t catch it, and flip it around, it can send us into a spiral of Negatron-ism. (I made that word up).
How often do you look in the mirror and have an automatic negative response to what you see? How do you react to certain circumstances?
Have you caught yourself playing the “(Person) is better than me at_____” game?
It’s so natural, but so important that we transform that habit. Of course it can take months and years of practice to get our thoughts under control, but there are practices that we can use, habits to form that make small steps more achievble.
(BTW I find it especially important while in Korea, seeing English learners who constantly berate themselves for being sub-standard in a society that favors grades over growth.)
Anyway, you don’t need me to explain the benefits or inner workings of positive psychology (because I can’t ) so I shall simply offer nowt but my two pennies.
I want to share something I do with my clients that really breeds wonderful results:
I might do this as a full session or as a warm up exercise.
Hand out pieces of paper with affirmations written on them. Like this:
I am a confident person, I am confident in myself and in what I believe.
나는 자신감 있는 사람이다. 나는 내 자신과 내 신념에 자신이 있다.
I am fulfilling my dreams one step at a time.
나는 한 걸음씩 내 꿈을 이루어 나가고 있다.
I am moving in the right direction.
나는 올바른 방향으로 나아가고 있다.
My life is filled with joy and positive experiences.
내 삶은 기쁨과 긍정적인 경험으로 가득 차 있다.
I do more and more each day towards fulfilling my desires.
나는 내가 원하는 것들을 하루 하루 더 채워 나갈 수 있다.
We look over them, read them, digest them and choose one to read aloud to the group 3 times in a row.
Our next task is to write our own affirmations:
1) write one for a friend
2) write one for our future self
3) write one for our past self
4) write one for present self
A few tips on writing affirmations:
Always write in present tense – “I will be happy when…” is a sure fire way to never be happy. “I am happy…”
Always write with positive language – for example, “I don’t allow negative thoughts…” can be replaced with “I always invite positive thoughts…”
Write something that is personal to your own experience, that works for you, and that you will find useful.
And finally… if all else fails, use the “I am…” model. It can be incredibly powerful, insightful and simple to understand and take with you throughout the day.
And finally, thank you for joining the journey we're on! Let's always share those positive vibes. Always. And encourage positive thinking within our students, clients, family, friends and ourselves.
Happy begets happy <3
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