What We Think Matters
The quality and content of our thoughts impacts us on many levels. The way we think has an impact on our mental, emotional, and physical health. It can be easy to develop habits of negative thinking and self-talk. Like any habit we can change how we think and develop new thought patterns. Take a minute to reflect on these questions:
- Do your thought patterns tend to be more positive or negative?
- When thinking negatively how does it impact your day? How does it impact your actions and reactions?
- Think of three things you are grateful for. How does it make you feel to practice gratitude? How does it change your perspective in this moment?
Positive thoughts and thoughts of gratitude can have many benefits to us. According the the Mayo Clinic these are just some of the benefits positive thoughts can have (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2022):
- Longer life span
- Lower rates of depression
- Decreased stress, distress, and pain
- Better overall well-being and quality of life
- Better coping skills and increased resilience
Paying Attention To Your Thoughts
It takes practice to pay attention to and change our thought patterns. Some of the ways we think are so ingrained in us that they come to mind subconsciously. These are called automatic thoughts and for a lot of us they tend to be negative (Hoshaw, 2020). The first step to changing these thoughts is to notice them. There are a couple of ways to do this including:
- Write down all your thoughts in a journal throughout the day.
- Simply pause and paying attention to your thoughts throughout the day.
Once you notice your thoughts you can then make efforts to change how you think.
Reframing Thoughts With Gratitude
You can change your thoughts by intentionally correcting negative thought patterns with positive thoughts. One way to do this is to reframe our thoughts with gratitude. Replacing our negative thoughts with grateful thoughts allows us to be present in the good things around us.
In the image below is an example of how you can do this.
This takes practice! You can practice by journaling your negative thought patterns and then writing a replacement thought of gratitude. Even simply confronting negative thoughts in our mind with grateful thoughts can make a huge impact to our thought life.
The more attention we put into having thoughts of gratitude, the easier it becomes to think grateful or positive thoughts naturally. To practice this now you can write out in your journal five negative thoughts you’ve had today and five reframed thoughts of gratitude.
Hoshaw, C. (2020). “Are You Kind to Yourself? Tracking Your Thoughts Might Surprise You” https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/are-you-kind-to-yourself-tracking-your-thoughts-might-surprise-you
Mayo Clinic Staff (2022). “Stress Management” https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/positive-thinking/art-20043950