Of the approximately sixty to seventy thousand thoughts we have each day, most of them are exactly the same as the thoughts we had yesterday. Not incidentally, most of these thoughts seem to be negative or critical, which is why making a deliberate move toward positivity and happiness can feel so weird.
(By the way, no one really knows how many thoughts we have per day, but the nice people at LONI, the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging at the University of Southern California, have offered up seventy thousand as a nonscientific best guess.* (*Laboratory of Neuro Imaging, Brain Trivia.)
How Can We Cultivate New Thoughts?
Here’s how you can tell a new thought from the old tapes. Old tapes:
* sound like the voice of a parent, other family member or teacher.
* contain the phrase, “I always think that...” For example, “I would make a stop-action claymation movie, but I always think, ‘That’s been done already, so why should I bother?’” Or “I would try to sell my jewelry, but then I always think, ‘That’ll be too much trouble.’ So I don’t do it.”
* make you feel small, sad, limited, and shut down.
* sound like conventional wisdom. Conventional wisdom applies only to conventional people doing conventional things, and when it comes to your new thoughts, that ain’t us.
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In contrast, a new thought shows up like this:
* “Oh!” (I love it when I hear people make that chiming “Oh!” sound of discovery. It’s plum delightful.)
* “I’ve never thought of that before.” Or “I’ve never thought about it in that way before.”
* “I wonder if...”
* “Maybe I could...”
* It feels expansive and intriguing.
* It offers opportunity and hope.
* It gives you the giggles, makes you cry, or provokes some other unusual reaction that you can’t easily explain.
Please, oh, please, start recognizing old tapes for the unhelpful burden that they are, and start to cultivate anything that feels like a new thought.
The Importance of New Thoughts
The new thoughts you have are guiding you somewhere, so no matter how impractical or impossible they may seem, stop rejecting them out of hand. Use your intuition to tune in to your new thoughts, and then use your big, sexy brain to start testing and experimenting.
Use your marvelous critical thinking skills to examine the habituated beliefs that are keeping you stuck. Use your dream-mind to tune in to the deeper “belly” wisdom that you may have been ignoring. Activate your imagination, your feelings, and your intuition, and then apply some good, old-fashioned cognition for best results.
One last thing: If you happen to have people in your life who scoff at words like intuition or inner wisdom, just use the words like hunch or guess instead. As in “How did I know that today was the day to circle back around and make the sale to that big client who’s already turned us down three times? Just a lucky guess, I guess!”
Little Changes Action Step
Place your hand on your belly, take a deep breath, and ask yourself, “What does my inner wisdom want me to know right now?” You could end up with a clear desire for a grilled cheese sandwich — or perhaps an idea for a whole new direction for your life.
©2016 by Samantha Bennett. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA.
www.newworldlibrary.com or 800-972-6657 ext. 52.
Start Right Where You Are: How Little Changes Can Make a Big Difference for Overwhelmed Procrastinators, Frustrated Overachievers, and Recovering Perfectionists
by Sam Bennett.
About the Author
Sam Bennett is the creator of the Organized Artist Company. In addition to her multifaceted writing and performance work, she specializes in personal branding, career strategies, and small-business marketing. She grew up in Chicago and now lives in a tiny beach town outside Los Angeles. Sam offers her revolutionary Get It Done Workshops, teleclasses, public speaking engagements and private consulting to overwhelmed procrastinators, frustrated overachievers and recovering perfectionists everywhere.
Watch a video with Sam Bennett: Get It Done Mini-Workshop: Investing in Yourself