Manage your thoughts, blah, blah, blah…. Yet the REAL question is this: why have unpleasant thoughts to begin with? How quickly a mood can sour when a dour thought comes to mind. If those thoughts simply never came, there’d be no need to manage them. So what’s the source, what’s going on here?
My current guess is as follows. The thoughts traveling through our thought-stream are based on patterns-of-thought we maintain in the mind. In other words, if I watch a scary movie before bed, I’ll likely have a nightmare that night. For example, if I read a lot about computer programming, my incoming thoughts will likely be related to programming.
Concentrate on sad themes and you’ll have sad thoughts. Focus on frustration and you’ll have frustrating thoughts. Delve into drama and you’ll have dramatic thoughts. Worry about whatever, and you’ll have an endless supply of worrisome thoughts. Therefore, bathe your mind in material that promotes the life you want to live.
Establish a better pattern through discipline. Discipline is the process of purposefully focusing your thoughts on a preselected target. And the way in which you direct your attention is by telling yourself a convincing and motivating story. You need a narrative that’s believable and fills you with enough energy to maintain itself.
For example, scaring yourself through constant worry works wonders. I could tell myself there are deadly germs everywhere and I’d die if I failed to wash my hands. Boom! Now I’m motivated to wash my hands all day. But scaring yourself into action is a low-quality method of motivation:
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”
If you want high-quality thoughts coming in, you have to bathe yourself in high-quality material. If you want a delightful life, then the books you read, the movies you watch, the shows you stream, and even the thoughts you stop to ponder, all have to be in the form of something you find delightful. You can’t watch disturbing shows or contemplate dour ideas and expect your incoming thoughts to be pleasant.
You must create and maintain patterns that paint images of success and enjoyment. Your job is to craft a story that fills your thoughts with hopefulness and delight on a consistent basis. Your life will reflect the consistency of the pattern you establish: wandering thoughts create a meandering life that feels like a rollercoaster. Use discipline to set a steady course.