Survive or Thrive: Why and How To Tend Your Thoughts

Just because a thought visits your mind does not mean it is true. Negative thoughts about yourself and speculation about what’s going to happen tomorrow can crowd every truthful thought out of your head. So how do you know whether a thought is true? If you do not believe negative thoughts, why believe positive ones?

Relax, and forget about thoughts being right or wrong, false, or true. Instead, consider whether a thought causes you to survive or thrive, whether it brings stress to your body or promotes well-being.

Our negative, worrying thoughts can keep us in a continuous state of anxiety, and at its root, anxiety is about not losing what is important to us. Wanting to keep what we hold dear is normal but creates a problem as well.

Anxious thoughts do not promote growth or sustain life either physically or mentally. With worry, we experience body stress, fearful emotions, and the mind is wary. Our focus is on staying alive while we live in a state of distress.

Thoughts that cause us to thrive are those that support life. We know which thoughts support life by how they affect our body, mind, and emotions.

Tips for Thriving

Thoughts worth holding are those that support your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. People, like plants, thrive when they receive the elements required to sustain life. One life-giving element is entertaining thoughts that water us (inspire) and let some light in. As mentioned before, we know these thoughts by the way our body and emotions react to them.

You cannot just be the soil that thoughts plant themselves in, but must also be the gardener. There isn’t anyone else that can do this for you. Someone has to pull the mental weeds and make sure there is sufficient synapse sunshine. At first, tending the mind is a full-time job because there is so much weeding to do. After a while, it becomes a matter of daily maintenance.

Our normal waking state should be one of relaxed attentiveness. That is difficult to maintain in our daily whirling world that never seems to slow down. Even if we eat and sleep well, and exercise, we all need tools to help us remain stress-free as possible. Focusing on the breath, controlled breathing exercises, mindfulness, visualization, and muscle relaxation are common tools mind-gardeners use to keep their cool.

Nourish and stretch your mind, regularly. Take in the material you find inspiring. Music, movies, books, or audio stories, poetry, art, or a nature walk gives your mind-body water and light. Appreciating beauty is an energy supplement. Puzzles are mental yoga. Meditation provides optimal growing conditions and gives you control over what to focus on.

If you do not eat nutritious meals and never exercise, do not expect to feel good or have enough energy to tend the mind. Make small positive changes over time such as adding fruit to your daily intake, or an extra vegetable. Touch your toes and then stretch tall every morning. Little changes add up.

These tips will not get rid of uncomfortable feelings and emotions. If we lose someone cared for, we will grieve. When tired, hungry, and stuck in traffic we might get ornery. However, tending our thoughts keeps survival thinking to a minimum so we can thrive.

Photo: Max Pixel

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