“Change your thoughts and you change your world.”
~ Norman Vincent Peale
This is one of those pithy, simple platitudes you might see on an inspirational meme, right? But let’s go beyond the breathtaking scenery of the background image on your screen and explore this concept in a way that might actually change your thoughts for longer than a breath.
Your Thoughts are a Choice
Always. It doesn’t always feel like it, but they are a choice. Your choice. Even those knee-jerk thoughts are a choice and can be changed. Even if you’ve always thought that way, it’s still a choice. And you have the option to change your thoughts.
Pick one area of your life; work, or home, or something about yourself. Then pick one thought about that area. Might your thoughts about that be right, or might they be wrong?
Do you think that a co-worker is out to get you? Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t. Both are equal possibilities. But how would your world change if you didn’t think they’re out to get you? Would you take more risks in your work, be more open to constructive criticism or other people’s ideas? I bet you’d find more freedom and less weight on your heart.
Thoughts vs. Whispers
What about those thoughts that come unbidden and surprise you? Those are the usually the real you, your Self, talking. These thoughts are closer to the truth than anything else you think. I see these less as thoughts than as whispers from the part of you that is without judgement and preconceived ideas.
These are the ones to listen to. I’ve never seen one of these whispers be wrong, no matter how much you don’t want them to be. The more you practice being open to the possibility that what you think might not be true, the easier it is to hear this voice.
A Broader Perspective
We can go further with this concept to see how it applies to society, politics, and more. How many wars are started because someone or a group of people wouldn’t change their thoughts about another group of people? How many policies are enacted due to limited perspectives? How many people are shunned because they have different thoughts?
What would happen if you were to change your thoughts about some of these broad issues? I venture you’d find more compassion. At the very least, there would be space for more compassion.
Resources to Change your Thoughts
If you’re not already familiar with the work of Byron Katie, you need to be. Her book, Loving What Is, is a great place to start. She takes you through four questions for every thought, to see if what you think is true. She’s done The Work, as she calls it, and her entire being is radiant because of it. It can be hard work, especially at first, but is well worth it and becomes easier the more you practice it.
And practice, practice, practice. In this case, practice will never mean perfect, but the increased freedom you find will get you closer and closer.