Well, thinking, about how powerful our minds are and some daily ways we can put that power to good use. And since we can’t all be a part of Ellen Langer’s experiments, here are some popular mental ‘tricks’ that you can start trying right now to greatly impact your life.
You’re likely familiar with the concept of a mantra—a repeated word or phrase—but have you tried it recently? Go beyond your pinning or ‘gramming inspirational quotes and consider an area in your life where you constantly feel tension or suffering. This is a great place to apply a mantra (which serves as a mini-meditation almost).
Whether your mantra is related to self-confidence (“I am enough”), people pleasing (“I cannot be all things to all people”), enduring tough times (“Head up. Heart open.”), or anything in between, try and repeat the word or phrase throughout the day.
Several years ago I really struggled with being fearful of work phone calls (seriously!), so I concocted a calming mantra that I read before every call that would center me and remind me of whatever truth I felt I really needed to hear regarding that situation. I still do this in lots of areas of my life (ahem, dating).
This one is as simple as it is fun. Simply make time for non-structured thoughts and ideas. So often we only create with an end in mind, which can actually stifle our imagination. So whether you want to follow a fun fantasy in your head or envision your dream life or career, take some time to kick back and let your brain run wild.
3. Gratitude + Positivity
There have been loads of studies done on the powerful effect that positivity has on life. But it’s often easier said than done. A little detour towards positivity that I’ve found very helpful is the idea of gratitude. Instead of focusing on what we don’t wish to happen in our life, it can be revolutionary to focus on what you’re looking to create in life, as well as what you’re grateful for. Whether you do this regularly at a set time throughout the day or when your mind wants to focus on the negative (which leads to more fear, anger, stress, and limiting opportunities), gratitude is a great mental tool.
4. Questioning Your Thoughts
Something I’ve been reading a lot about lately is the dissonance between what is happening and the meaning we ascribe it in our minds. For example, if I got a text from a friend that just said “K” I would be tempted to unquestionably believe the thought that my friend is upset with me and I’ve likely done something to anger her. When in reality, I can’t know for sure if that is true. Granted, it may be true, but it can be very eye-opening to look at your thoughts about life and test them out before just riding those beliefs off into the sunset.
One of my favorite authors on the subject, Byron Katie, says, “A thought is harmless unless we believe it. It’s not our thoughts, but our attachment to our thoughts, that causes suffering. Attaching to a thought means believing that it’s true, without inquiring. A belief is a thought that we’ve been attaching to, often for years.”
So happy thinking, folks.