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Changing Your Own Mind

Updated: Jan 11

There are many things in this life that we cannot control. This always has been, and always will be, true. In spite of our best efforts, sometimes bad things happen. Or life gets difficult. Because....well, because life is hard. It just is sometimes. Troubles come to us at varying degrees all throughout our lives. It's a universal part of the human condition.

In the midst of whatever circumstances we find ourselves in at any given time though, there is one thing that we CAN control. We have the power to change our own minds. To redirect our attention to gratitude, and alter our personal perceptions. We get to decide what our attitudes will be, and so much of that is driven by how thankful we are for the blessings we have. Truth and realities feel vastly different depending on whether we choose to see them as positive or negative, even when the facts remain unchanged.

Here are some examples of how this can work:

- The house is a mess, the laundry is piling up, and you're feeling overworked and cranky about being the one stuck taking care of it.  Maybe turn on some music or a book on tape, so the task is a little more pleasant. Focus your attention on how fortunate you are to have a spouse and children to share your life with. Yes, they bring a lot of mess and work along with them, but take some time to think about all the good times you have together, and how lucky you are to have such wonderful people to serve and enjoy.

- Or maybe you are single and feel lonely and jealous of your friends that are in relationships, or have the children you so long for. How about developing some hobbies and feeling thankful for the time you have to devote to personal goals and endeavors? Focus on developing yourself into the best person you can be, and learning all you can. Perhaps find some other single people who are feeling the same way you are, and form a group to get together and do something fun once in awhile. Lift each other up. Reaching out to help others is often the best way to boost our own spirits as well.

- You have a boss or co-worker with a difficult personality that continually gets on your nerves or undermines you at work. This can definitely make the office challenging, but try to keep reminding yourself what a blessing it is to have a job that provides for your family. Think of all the opportunities and amenities you have, because of the money you make each month. Think of the personal fulfillment you get from the work that you do. Try to find things that you really like, or at least admire, about your boss and remind yourself of them regularly. Go out of your way to be positive and kind to him/her, even when you don't feel like it. It may not change their behavior, but it can still increase your contentment level in the workplace.

- Perhaps, on the flip side, you have suffered a job loss and are unemployed currently and stressed about money. During the slow points in your job searching, take advantage of the extra time you have to read or pursue some personal goals you won't have time for once you find your new job. Be grateful for the period you are being given to take extra care of yourself. To get some good sleep and listen to music. Go for long walks. Do some volunteer work. This break won't last forever, and you will miss it in many ways when it is over, so relish it while you can and be thankful for it.

- What about instances that truly feel like there is no upside, like the death of a loved one? I would never suggest that you not allow yourself to grieve. You must, and you should. But rather than allow bitterness to consume you in times like these, it's far better to honor that person by focusing on the beauty that was their life. The fun times you shared, and the wonderful memories you will keep with you forever. You can miss them, but still have peace in your heart and feel joy and gratitude for the blessing of having them in your life while you did.

If these sound like trite solutions that just won't work, I assure you they are not. The more you practice the easier it becomes to stop negative thoughts in their tracks and replace them with positive ones instead. Even if it feels forced at first, stick with it and you'll be amazed at the outcome. You can't always change other people's minds, but it is always within your power to change your own. You can't always change your circumstances, but you can always choose your reaction to them. This is the miracle that gratitude offers us, if we will just accept it into our hearts and lives.

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