“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking.”
The human mind is wonderful and powerful, but it’s far from perfect. Too often we are addicted to our thoughts, and we can’t change anything in our lives if we can’t change our thinking. If you want to move forward with your life, you must change your mind and get these thoughts OUT of it:
1. “Life sucks and that’s just the way it is.”
The mind can be the harshest battleground. It can be the place where the greatest conflicts are carried out. It’s where half of the things you thought were going to happen, never came to be. But if you allow those thoughts to dwell in your mind and fester, they will succeed in robbing you of peace, of happiness, and of everything that is beautiful in this world.
Tell the negativity committee that meets inside your head to sit down and shut up. Don’t think yourself into a nervous breakdown, into depression, into hopeless defeat. If you’re being negative when you’re alone, the warfare is in your mind. The fight you’ve got to fight is in your mind. You can’t change what has happened, but you can choose how you’re going to deal with it.
2. “Those haters are right about me.”
Be wise enough to walk away from the negativity around you; don’t let it infect your thinking. Don’t let someone else’s negative opinion ruin your reality. No matter how much negativity is thrown at YOU by others, there is absolutely no need for you to stay put and partake in the decay they choose for their own lives. YOU decide how your soul grows.
When the people around you give you every reason to be negative, think of one good reason to be positive. There’s always something to be grateful for. Say it: “I am lucky to be alive! I am happy to be me! I have so much to be grateful for! My life isn’t perfect, it’s just pretty darn good!” (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Self-Love” and “Relationships” chapters of “1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.”)
3. “The way it is now is the way it will always be.”
Don’t confuse your path with your destination. Just because it’s stormy now, doesn’t mean you aren’t headed for sunshine. And remember, you cannot heal a lifetime of pain overnight; be patient with yourself, it takes as long as it takes, but your happiness is well worth the wait.
You write your own destiny through the choices you make. You become what you repeatedly do. It is more important to know where you are going and why, than to get there quickly. Do not mistake activity for achievement. Every time you are tempted to react to the same old circumstances in the same old way, ask yourself, “Do I want to be a prisoner of the past, or a pioneer of the future?”
4. “Life is supposed to be easy.”
Nothing worthwhile in life was meant to be easy; learn to take it easy with your expectations in this area. Don’t expect things to be given to you. Go out and achieve them! It’s the only sane way to deal with life’s challenges. If it’s worth having, it’s worth working for.
Anyone can run away and waste away; it’s super easy to do nothing. Facing challenges and working through them, that’s what makes you strong. And even on your weakest days you get a bit stronger. So today, stop wishing for it and start working for it. Talk is cheap. Action is priceless. (Read Flourish.)
5. “It’s easier to blame someone else.”
Too many of us only take credit for positive outcomes. In other words, we take full credit for our successes, but deny responsibility for our failures. A perfect example of this can be witnessed in school classrooms across the globe. When students receive a good grade, they often attribute it to their intelligence and their excellent study habits. But when they get a bad grade, they attribute some of their failure to a bad teacher, an unfair set of test questions, or a subject matter that “isn’t needed in the real world anyway.”
Realize that in order for you to grow emotionally, you must be willing to take full responsibility for all your actions and outcomes – successes and failures alike. Because if you are too afraid of failure, you can’t possibly do what needs to be done to be successful. Setbacks, failures, obstacles, and hardships are the contractors of life; they build character, strength and knowledge.
6. “I just can’t stand X, Y and Z!”
Today, let your small annoyances go. Move through your day consciously. Make an effort to notice at least one insignificant little frustration that you would normally get frustrated about. Then do yourself a favor and simply let it go. Experience, in this little way, the freedom of being in control of the way you feel. And realize that you can extend this same level of control to every situation you encounter in life.
At any given moment, the way you feel is the way you choose to feel, and the way you react is the way you choose to react.
7. “They look a certain way, so they must be a certain way.”
Superficial judgments are made the instant one person assumes something about another person based on their immediate appearance. Sadly, this likely happens thousands of times every minute, all around the world. For example, someone might see a tall, well groomed man in his early fifties wearing a business suit, and instantly assume he is successful and reliable, even though there is zero concrete evidence to support this assumption.
Bottom line: Don’t judge a person by what they show you in a single glance. What you’ve seen is oftentimes only what they have chosen to show you at that particular moment. Too often we jump to conclusions. Talk with people, listen to their stories, watch what they do – this is how you get to know who they truly are.
8. “Giving up and starting over is a sign of failure.”
Don’t try to diminish your losses from a past failure by continuing to follow the exact same path that led to the failure in the first place. In other words, don’t do the same thing over and over again and expect different results. If it didn’t work last time, and you haven’t made any significant changes, it probably won’t work this time either.
Sometimes we justify our decision to continue investing in a failed endeavor based solely on our cumulative prior investment, despite new evidence suggesting that the cost, starting today, of continuing to pursue it outweighs the expected benefit. The logical thing to do would be for us to cut our losses and change our course of action. However, due to the sunk costs we have already invested, we feel committed to the endeavor, so we invest even more time, money and energy into it, hoping that our additional investment will reverse the outcome. But most of the time it never will.
When you can no longer think of a reason to continue, you must think of a reason to start over, and that’s perfectly OK. There’s a big difference between giving up and starting over in the right direction. (Read Daring Greatly.)
9. “It’s too late. I missed my chance.”
Be done with regrets; they are an excuse for people who have given up. You are still here trying and growing. Life is about learning from the past, trusting your intuition going forward, taking chances, finding moments of happiness, and realizing everything is simply a lesson that happens for a reason.
Don’t stress over what could’ve been; chances are if it should’ve been, it would’ve been. Focus on the present; you have a lot to look forward to in it. Just do your best. Every moment gives you a new beginning and a new ending. You get a second chance, every second. And YOUR best chance is happening right NOW.
Afterthoughts and next steps…
The Dalai Lama once said, “A new way of thinking has become the necessary condition for responsible living and acting. If we maintain obsolete values and beliefs, a fragmented consciousness and self-centered spirit, we will continue to hold onto outdated goals and behaviors.”
Today, make it a point to defragment your consciousness and center your spirit on positive, productive thoughts. Whatever you do, don’t get stuck on the one thing that ruins your day. Smile and be grateful. Life is too short to waste on negativity and destructive thinking.
What would you add to the list? What negative thoughts and destructive thinking traps do you struggle with? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts and insights with the community.
Photo by: Martina Photography
“They don’t think it’s a good idea, so I probably shouldn’t do it.” Very similar to #2 but it’s less to do with negativity and more to do with the need to be approved by others first. Learn to think on your own and come to informed decisions by yourself. You will find the voices around you are wrong more often than you think.
Christy King says
My worst thoughts tend to be along the lines “I can’t do this.” I’ve always been shy so usually this relates to some social situation. Like the new class I started last week at church only to find out I’ll have to write & share an autobiography. I felt sick. Eventually reminded myself that everyone in the class has to do it and that I survived all the crazy “team-building” exercises I had to do several years ago like being led around blindfolded by a stranger….Now I’m at least resigned. Maybe after another a week I’ll even enjoy it.
Travis Smith says
This really struck me. I’m predominately commenting on the “what would you add to the list”?
Although I don’t have a neat, singular though/quote to describe this negative feeling, but it would go along the line of “But THEY are doing so much better” or “I graduated at the same time he did, why is he better off then me?” Along with all the benefits that social media brought, as always there are some negatives. People who feel as they are doing successful, tend to “broadcast” this sentiment via facebook, twitter, etc. This broadcast of success is typically (as are most human-told stories) a bit grandiose when compared to reality. Not only will people who feel less successful most likely not broadcast their failures through various internet channels, but they are subjected to the various “news feeds/updates” of other friends/previous associates who may be broadcasting their success to the world. This can lead to a feeling of “they are successful, why am I not?”.
I feel like this could apply to not just work experiences but successful love lives or even fantastic vacations. Comparing oneself to others, comparisons which are readily available with the advent of social media, and longing for their “better” experiences is something I, and I am sure many others, struggle with.
@Christy: I am really shy like you. I’ve found what helps is pushing myself to be in social situations. I still feel sick and nervous, but I’ve definitely become more outgoing.
@Travis: I thought I was the only one who did that on FB. It’s hard to be happy sometimes for your current circumstances when everyone else seems to be having a good time. Don’t get me wrong – I am working hard to earn my degree, but sometimes it’s frustrating because a lot of my friends have graduated already, and I see people with better jobs.
Numbers 2 and 6 resonate with me. I care way too much about what people think and let little things annoy me. Plus, I am surrounded by negative people a lot of the time and am predisposed to complaining by habit. I am making an active effort to change my attitude though and be more grateful just for being alive and healthy. It’s hard, but I’m trying.
Kimberly J. says
I can not express the gratitude I have for your posts and related emails. They LITERALLY REACH ME in such times that it changes my whole day with just a mere thought. It’s truly amazing what you guys do… THANK YOU, THANK YOU.
Following up on Travis’ comments about others being successful, “why not me”? I’ve recently encountered descriptions of “scanners, or renaissance mind” that may be me! If you’ve been unable to find your “passion”, maybe you don’t have one, maybe you have many interests and want to do them all. Read Barbara Sher’s book “Refuse to Choose”, or others out there on the subject.
I often say that I’m going to record my family when they speak. Some of the phrases they say I used to say because I didn’t know any better; I picked them up when I was a child. Since I’ve worked on myself for several years, I now recognize their “stinking thinking” and send them lots of love. 🙂
“I can’t take this anymore.”
“I can’t afford (fill in the blank).”
“I’ll never (fill in the blank).”
“You’re just like (fill in the blank).”
“It never ends.”
“I don’t care.”
“Son of a b****. I don’t need this aggravation.”
“I need to win the lottery.”
“Why can’t I win the lottery?”
“Why is it always me?”
“I can’t catch a break.”
“I’m not made of money.”
“Why is life so hard?”
I know there are other phrases but these stick out. Thank goodness as an adult you don’t have to listen to your parents, grandparents, etc. and can break the cycle. 🙂
I think the quote by Albert Einstein at the beginning says it all. Thank you for another great posting.
WOW, Christy , what church do you go to? Sounds like your church is really involved in helping its’ members. I wish I had access to a church like that . You are very lucky in that way.
Sometimes we get so caught up in the negative that we actually talk ourselves into believing something that is completely made up in our heads. This has resonated so much throughout my life and more specifically this week. We have to sometimes let go of what we think could happen and realize that through all of life’s toughness we have to “fight” and realize we would not be here if we didn’t fight through some of the toughest times. My hope is that if when we feel negative sometimes, the best medicine is to reach out to others and find ways of lifting them up.
“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.” – Aristotle Onassis
Great post as always! The thing that worries me is in re: to Einstein’s quote. A relationship I so deeply cared about did not work out, and I know it was because the way he went hot/cold made me insecure and I shut down. So if it was my thinking that made my reality, shouldn’t I feel a lot of guilt and anger towards myself?
As much as I agree with point 5, it’s sometimes a slippery slope. As long as you manage to take responsibility for your actions, instead of sitting there and reprimanding yourself, then you’re good. But sometimes one can lead to the other, depends on your mood and general mindset.
I’ve been reading this blog every week for a year or two now, and I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for this blog – it has been a life-saver.
“At any given moment, the way you feel is the way you choose to feel, and the way you react is the way you choose to react.” I. Love. That. Quote. Posted it on Facebook as soon as I read it. Thank you, Marc and Angel. I always look forward to the mood-altering, thought-provoking messages you share in these posts.
Just wanted to remind Travis and Arzu and anyone else that might need reminding that one of the reasons we struggle with insecurity is that we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel!
I too struggle with the “We are the same age, how are they so much more successful than me!?” I see classmates of mine who are buying huge houses, new cars, and vacation homes while I struggle to put 3 meals a day on the table and pay my small, townhouse mortgage. It’s frustrating and Facebook makes it even more difficult. I find myself asking “When is it my turn?” “When will I be able to afford to eat and buy tires and new clothes?” “Why can’t I find a good job and utilize my master’s degree?”. Thank you for this post. I’ve had a tough week of feeling severely poor and not knowing how to make ends meet but I am trying to be hopeful that life will turn around and reward me at some point. What doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger… right?
David Rapp says
8. Learn the difference between a failure and a temporary setback. It can be difficult, especially when the emotional cost has been high, and continues to hurt. Edison and his 5000 filaments were NOT failures, all he did was grab the next filament and hit it again. They were all temporary setbacks.
Can you to that? Guess what, you already do in some aspect of your life. You hate your job, but you still show up 5 days a week…until you get your ass in gear and find another job.
9. Missed my chance. Same deal. You missed that chance, a chance, one chance. Not ALL chances. I cannot tell you how many chances I blew because of one big one I missed in college. The only question is “what chances can I take now?” So what is next? Take a small chance, and build from there.
Mary Jane Allen says
Great post, as always! 🙂 Love you two!!
This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart because as an energetic healer I specialize in energetically clearing away negative subconscious negative beliefs and replacing those beliefs with positive, empowering beliefs. The result? Happy people who feel lighter, positive and able to move on and achieve their goals without the angst and stress of what was formerly in their subconscious mind! Blessings to all, MJ xoxo
What you’re talking about here are self-fulfilling prophecies, the “downside” of the creative control we have over our lives through our thinking.
Sharing what I’d add to such a list personally might be helpful, but I think I can share something better than that.
The key here is looking at the bigger picture. It’s not dealing items on the list individually that breaks the pattern, it’s recognizing what they have in common and how they influence us. If you believe (and even if you don’t, sorry!) that we help form our reality with our attitudes, and attitudes grow from rumination (the things we think about,) then it becomes critical that our thinking be free from negativity, lest we attract it. Because we will. And if it’s not there to be attracted, we’ll create it. It’s what we do, even if we don’t realize it. “nobody loves me” becomes actions that make you unlovable. “I always lose my keys!” enforces a terribly inconvenient habit.
So realize it, and use your thoughts to your advantage of your inherent spark of divine creative power. The tip here I want to share is, fake it until you make it. Pick one thing on the list, and start correcting yourself any time you catch yourself thinking it. Consciously think the exact opposite. Say it out loud if you like. “I’m the boss of not losing keys.” “Hey, no smoking in here, me.. Sorry, we’re not smoking, Oh, yes we are. SMOKING HOT THAT IS!”
You don’t have to understand how it works, just trust that it does, and keep it up. When it works for you, don’t thank me, just pay it forward.
Thanks to you I have learned how to handle failures and setbacks in my life by reading your wonderful website On Practical Tips For Productive living. I love each and every e-mail you have sent to me from your your website, because they have helped me so much with various aspects of my life. You have helped me clear many thoughts that caused me sadness , tears and depression. Thank You Sooo Very Much for each an every article.
I have to start forcing myself to smile on the inside and outside, and look at what I have right now.
I am just starting to take baby steps.
Thanks for these reminders.
Melissa Webster says
This list just emphasized what I’ve been consciously working on personally all week. Thank you for this.
Regarding #8 I feel a bit discouraged. Maybe I’m not understanding fully. I went to school to be a dental assistant and was at an office for 11/2 years. I left that office hoping to find a better office.since then I have been at 3 offices where I can’t seem to keep my job and find the right office. Does this mean I need to cut my losses and go back to school for something else. Just feeling hopeless. Anyone have any advice?
Wow! These landed in my e-mail in-box and I am now using them like affirmations every morning. Each one resonates with me in a positive way. And each time I read them I see another aspect of meaning in what they say.
I was particularly touched by numbers 2 and 9, as I have been trapped in a vicious circle of believing haters while also feeling as if I’d missed my chance in life, or rather feeling as if it never started, but now I realise (yes, the British “s”) it is all to do with my thinking when I am alone, the “battleground”. I like the idea of being a Greek warrior in an arena and I am interested in checking all this out. The way you write has an impact that cuts through all the negative debris clearly and succinctly. I have read many books in recent years and the way information is written or ideas expressed is almost as important as the information itself in terms of how or whether it sinks in. If this post is anything to go by then your way works with me. I am very happy to be signed up to this blog. Bye for now! Nickolas
Yesterday was awful. I spent the whole day crying and dwelling in the past… I wasted a whole day with destructive and negative thoughts. To what ends as today I woke and felt miserable again until I remembered to look at this site.
It is such hard work to keep motivated but I will keep reading and keep trying to rid my head of the demons of my own making! Thanks for all of your insightful writing.
Elle – I feel for you. When my career hit a snag, I too thought that going back to school for certification would put me back on the “right” track. Didn’t happen. But don’t dispair. Sometimes the right track is not right for us. The stumbles help us figure things out.
Look after your health. We must stay healthy to feel good and think clearly. Put some post-it notes on your fridge or bathroom mirror that will lift your spirit. Read inspirational books and blogs like this one. They will nurture you. Reach out like you’re doing right now.
Practice zooming in and out of your predicament. Avoidance is not the answer. Neither is wallowing in it. When you look at your experiences as an observer you may see a pattern. Examine what’s been working and what’s not in the 3/4 offices you’ve been at. Changing office or career will not necessarily fix anything. There’s clues that will help you going forward. Be courages. Life lessons can be painful. No one is exempt. Be patient with yourself and trust in the Devine.
I agree that your path is not your destination. Look for blossoms which will delight you. There’s promise all around us.
I give up on things because people tell me I am crazy to try. I have a dream that I let die and every day I regret not going for it.
Christy King says
@Sally – I go to St Paul’s Episcopal in Oregon City. The class is offered nationally and is called EfM. You don’t have to be Episcopalian to take it, either.
@Arzu – yes, I just keep pushing myself too. I used to hate even small groups if I didn’t know the people, but now I can (usually anyway) have a good time in larger groups. Still no speaking in front of crowds and sharing really personal stuff is a big challenge.
Bree Clare says
I struggle with judging myself and especially my appearance. It’s been a battle since I was a young teenager but practicing small steps of self-love each day has really helped. I’ve been shifting my focus from simply seeing beauty as my outer appearance, to always seeing myself as a beautiful person, no matter how I look. Thank you so much for these amazing posts. 🙂
Marc Chernoff says
@Vincent: You got it. You have to listen to your intuition first and foremost.
@Christy King: Public speaking and social situations that put us on the spot are tough to deal with if we’re not used to it. Practice makes perfect. The second time you present will be much easier. Good luck.
@Travis Smith: Be inspired by others, appreciate others, learn from others, but know that competing against them is a waste of time. You are in competition with one person and one person only – yourself. And I agree, social media does perpetuate this particular problem. The best idea is to not engage in those posts.
@Arzu: Excellent insight, thanks.
@Amandah: Congrats on breaking the cycle. It’s negative thinking like this that defeats the best of us.
@Penelope: No doubt – we have to earn our successes. And yes, helping others helps US. Excellent points all around.
@Christina: No, you shouldn’t feel guilty. You lived and you learned. Mistakes are allowed. Read this article about letting go: https://www.marcandangel.com/2013/09/02/5-things-you-should-know-about-letting-go/
@Ragnar: Which is precisely why it’s important to keep that mindset positive. 🙂
@Sherry: Great perspective on comparing a highlight reel to an average day. Sadly, this is precisely what some people do when they see other people’s social media updates (as Travis pointed out).
@Liz and Joanne: You got it. Take it one day at a time. You’re doing fine.
@David Rapp: I love your perspective on taking chances. It’s so true. So many of us miss our present chances for happiness and success simply because we think we already missed them in the past. I may write a post about this soon.
@Mary Jane Allen: Cheers to that! Angel and I work to spread this positive message every day.
@Noises: Thank you. Excellent insight.
@Elle: It might be time to change your approach. This doesn’t mean you have to do something drastic; it simply means it may be time to evaluate what isn’t working with your current approach. Why aren’t things working right now? What would change the situation? What is the next step that will help you determine this?
@Alex: Great advice for Elle (and all of us). Thank you.
@Nikolas: Be that Greek warrior! 🙂 Thanks for the kind words.
@MJ: Every day is a new beginning. Every moment is a second chance. Start from where you are and take a step forward. It’s not too late.
@All: Thanks for the continued support and for sharing your stories with us. Angel and I are constantly taking notes from your comments and using them to help us target useful content for future posts. Have a wonderful day.
The thought that I need to get out of my head is: “What if I say something stupid.”
I have to admit that my number one fear is public speaking. I can easily go up to a stranger and start a conversation, but put me in front of a group to speak and I freak out..lol. I know where this fear originated from. Elementary school. I spoke up to give my opinion and I was humiliated. Two boys in my class told me that my comment was so stupid and that I always mess everything up. THEN they started telling me that I was ugly. I’ve struggled with this fear for over 30 years and it has had a major impact on my employment status.
In the past, I have quit several jobs after being there for about 4-5 years. When I would find out that it was a requirement to make a presentation at the weekly meetings, that’s when I would quit. I have a BS and an MS degree so I know that I am intelligent. However, I struggle with the fear of speaking up. I would love to conquer this fear one day.
king amoako says
Thanks a lot for your blog, I read daily to enhance my spirit and life.
You guys are awesome with all these posts. I would have been a lot happier if I had seen this a loooong time ago – I took half a decade to figure out these 9 thoughts you guys were writing about. Can’t wait to read more advice – they are really fricking helpful.
What can i say…? At this point in my life, i really need this, so thanks guys
I’ve always dealt with different kinds of negative thinking – always surrounding my dream. “I am not good enough to accomplish this dream.” “I will not be able to do what it takes to accomplish it.” “God does not want to bring this dream to pass.” “I cannot tell which of my thoughts are from real inspirations from God, which are my own negative thinking, and which are lies from the devil.” Then that leaves me in a puddle of confusion, not even knowing which thoughts to entertain and what to believe in.
I know it’s all a demonic trap. It’s just the negative thoughts feel SO real. It’s hard for me to convince myself that they’re not true. I think “maybe this is the truth and you’re just denying it”. Those are the thoughts that tell me to give up. When I come close to giving up, everything in my spirit reminds me those thoughts were born in demonic confusion and are totally false.
Sometimes I’ll work it out in my mind that are particular thought isn’t worth my time, but then I get afraid that I’ll keep experiencing the same thoughts when doing _____ activity, and that I’ll never be able to enjoy or be inspired that activity again. 🙁
Kimberly Edwards says
I love this and employ is regularly:
“Tell the negativity committee that meets inside your head to sit down and shut up.”
Great post. I linked it in my latest blog post. Click my name to get to it.
Great post, will try and implement it for myself and others too..
Interesting points. I have gone through most of my life being surrounded by the wrong people. No wonder it was hard for me to have a true support, and I did not appear to get along with anyone. I don’t mean to sound like I am placing blame, but my environment was a significant factor in how I felt about things and the way people treated me. I wasn’t around enough people who could have tried to encourage me, lead me, guide me and show me how. If someone tells me that this is the way it’s going to be unless I change it, maybe it would have helped if they would have shared with me how they handled a situation.
I used to go to a church where I was not happy, and I was pushed into going by my friend, her mom and then my mom (because she was trying to impress them). I have even said that I did not want to go to that church any more because of how people treated me. The only response that I would get is that I will go to Hell if I stop going to church. So, in this case if I would be told to change my situation, I would say that because I feel that this church is big part of the problem, I have to stop coming here in order to start having a happy and productive life. I didn’t intend to comment about church, but churches tend to be just as, if not guiltier than people are in blaming others (#5). I am not trying to blame church for my problems, but I feel that I learned by spending an abundance of time in this church is that church is not always a true support system, you still have to get out there in the real world in order to really accomplish anything and find out what you can do to grow and prosper without being drained or taken advantage of. Also, be honest with yourself about how you spend your time and who you are spending it with, just because a group is in a fixed setting, it does not necessarily mean that they want you there, or that you have anything in common. Don’t let other people decide what is best for you because that person might not know you well enough to know what your likes/dislikes are and what your present goals might be, and what you have tried so far.