If you think of your mind as a mental kingdom, you'll see that it has many levels and chambers. You have all you could possibly need in that mental kingdom—a kitchen where you cook thoughts, a den where you play with thoughts, a bedroom where you, well...you get the idea! The bottom line is that before you can strengthen your life, you need to strengthen your thoughts so you can strengthen your actions. Here are five ways to strengthen your mental kingdom.
- Think positively. Think about the cans rather than the can'ts. Think about what's good in your life rather than what's bad. You know that half-full glass? People who think positively see it a third way—that they have a glass for their liquids, not whether it is half-full or half-empty! So the next time your boss complains about a job you felt was well-done, look at it positively in any number of ways: At least he noticed my work on some level, that was good information I can use on my next assignment, or that I need to find a new job before I quit this one. Positive thoughts lead to positive actions, which lead to a positive life.
- Think about your goals. Do you not have goals? You definitely should! People with goals generally find the way to achieve them. Make short-term, interim, and long-term goals. Make those goals in different categories—relationships, home, work, etc. Start with easily attainable goals and work your way up to the mountain you thought was insurmountable. Let's say you want to put an addition onto your home. You don’t have the money to do that so you resign yourself to the negative thought—I'll always be stuck in this little house. Instead, consider the goals: Short term might be to investigate all options for that addition (cost, design, etc.) Post a picture of that addition on your fridge or bulletin board. An interim goal might be to get a second job so you can save enough money for the addition. Or save $50 a week for a number of years. When you meet the short-term and interim goals, you will meet the long-term goal of putting on that addition! Goal-setting leads to actions that lead to a realization of that goal.
- Think about your schedule. You're overwhelmed by the demands on your life. Groceries, carpools, work assignments, laundry, housekeeping, etc. You don't have enough time to reorganize your office, or get back to that craft you started two years ago, or maybe you can't even find time to go to your kids soccer match. Ouch! Set your priorities, then set a schedule. Make sure when you set that schedule, you put in some time for yourself, by yourself. Here's a sample jumbled Saturday: You get up, make breakfast for the crew, put in a load of laundry drive the kids to piano lessons and soccer practice on opposite sides of town, come home, start a second load of laundry, go back out and pick up some groceries and the kids, fix lunch, clean the kitchen, strip the beds, vacuum and dust downstairs, make dinner, eat dinner, watch TV with the kids, put the kids to bed, and then collapse. Where's the "you" time? Schedule it in! Either get up early and read a book, or after the kids go to bed, spend an hour on your hobby. When you think about your schedule, you can change your actions within that schedule, which changes your outlook on life as a result of that improved schedule.
- Think about your relationships. Most of us go through life dealing with everyday inconveniences, problems, and issues that seem to crop up when least expected. Look at those things through the glasses of an improved mental kingdom. Think about your relationship with your spouse, partner, children, boss, parents, siblings, etc. How might they be improved through something you say or do? Suppose you just had a huge argument with your teenager about going to see that new movie when it premieres at midnight before the SATs. Think about ways to improve this situation: Instead of arguing with her, grounding her, and entering into a screaming match, explain the logic behind your objections, show her that you're offering these thoughts because you care about her future. And then...here's the biggie: Let her decide whether she wants to see the movie on Friday night when it premieres, or on Saturday night as a reward for making the right decision about not being tired for the SATs. Speaking from experience, I think your teenager will choose the mature option when confronted with the wisdom of your years! When you think about ways to improve your relationships, you will change your actions, which will change your life.
- Think about your future rather than the past. One of the worst things you can say is, "But I've always done it that way." Maybe that old way wasn't the best way. Or perhaps you hyper-focus on what you left behind rather than what you can achieve in the future. Sure, you can learn from your mistakes, but let them go! Thinking too much about the past leaves no room in your mental kingdom for thoughts of the future. After all, it's the future you want to change, right? You want a better tomorrow. You want better relationships. You want more money. You want to help more people. When you set your goals in Step 2, those were forward-thinking line items on your life schedule. Put the past behind you and you’ll be better equipped to plan for a brighter future. When you think about the future, you change the actions that will influence your future, which in turn, will create a bright light on your horizon.
Thoughts control who you are, where you are going, and how you will get there. What are your thoughts telling you? What can you change about your thoughts to strengthen your mental kingdom so you change your actions and change your life?
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Renee Heiss is the author of the forthcoming book, The Beaded Kingdom, which shows readers how a simple, tangible item like a beaded chain, will help to remind them to change their thoughts to change their actions to change their lives.
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