That sounds like an odd question, no? I mean, you know if you’re happy or not. Why would you need to check to see if you were?
Do you ever have those times when your emotions just seem to slump, and you sort of look up and go, what happened? What’s making me unhappy? And then can’t find anything around you (except life’s usual headaches) that’s causing you to feel blue?
One of the beautiful things about being conscious and aware, is that you find (fairly quickly) that your emotions follow your thoughts. And oddly, life tends to give you back what you put forth.
While this sounds like new-age mumbo jumbo, science has been backing it up for decades. Eminent psychiatrist, David D. Burns, M.D, in his book Feeling Good, outlines these scientifically proven techniques that immediately lift your spirts and help you to develop a positive outline on life.
His research shows that all moods are created by your thoughts. This includes your perceptions, mental attitudes, beliefs, and how you interpret events.
And check this out: These can be changed.
The part of the brain that gives us the ability to think (the prefrontal cortex), is what makes the human brain such a specialized instrument. And when we use our thoughts to refine and guide our emotions, we maximize human potential.
The main premise of cognitive therapy is that all of those thoughts and messages you’re giving yourself all day influence how you feel. So, if your thoughts are negative, you’re going to feel crummy. The converse is also true—if you think positively, optimistically, then you’re going to feel good.
Can you even imagine a better prescription for how to take care of you!
As Dr. Burns says, “Every time you feel depressed about something, try to identify a corresponding negative thought you had just prior to and during the depression. Because these thoughts have actually created your bad mood, by learning to restructure them, you can change your mood.”
One of my biggest demons is this recurring thought: I have no time for me.
Which is ironic, actually, as I’m a writer, an editor, and I work from home. When I remind myself that no one sets my schedule but me, I end up with that blush of embarrassment 🙂
Yep, I have a lot to do. And I get a ton done. But if I do it at the expense of me—where I don’t tend to all of my needs, including emotional and spiritual, well, I know I’ll pay the price.
Because nothing halts production quicker than a depressive mood.
You know how that is—you can work a 12-hour day when in a bad mood and get done less than half of what you would had you worked a 6-hour day while in great spirits.
When those times occur for me, I always say, STOP. I know I’m chasing my tail. Being counter-productive. Which is just anathema to me!
And my next step is to take that time for me. To breathe. To stop, get my priorities back in order, and step off on a new road. One that includes some personal time, and some personal freedom.
Of course, spiritual teachers have been expounding upon this topic for millennia. It always tweaks me when scientific studies prove spiritual truths 🙂
I’ve been reading (again) the teachings of Abraham Hicks or late, and just ran across this piece of wisdom from Ask and It Is Given
“When you think a thought that rings true with who you really are, you feel harmony coursing through your physical body: Joy, love, and a sense of freedom are examples of that alignment. And when you think thoughts that do not ring true with who you really are, you feel the disharmony of your physical body. Depression, fear, and feelings of bondage are examples of that misalignment. . . . you will use your emotions to feel your way to well-being.”
Sounds a lot like what Dr. Burns said.
Doesn’t that just stop you in your tracks?
So now, anytime I’m feeling the blues, I take a mental inventory first. What thought led to this? How do I change it? To what better thought do I change it?
And the oddest thing happens—as soon as I change the thought, I begin to feel better immediately.
Maybe all those sages over all those millennia were onto something. And now that cognitive therapy is proving the same thing, I’d be an idiot not to listen, no?
How do you change your thoughts?
Award-winning writer and editor Susan Mary Malone is the author of the novels, "I Just Came Here to Dance" and "By the Book," as well as four co-authored nonfiction books, including "What’s Wrong with My Family?" and many published short stories. Forty-plus Malone-edited books have now sold to traditional publishers.