Conscious thoughts & being happier

Do you remember when Lorelai Gilmore had to learn how to fish to go on a date with some outdoorsy guy, and Rory, quite naturally, got some fishing books from the library to help her? Some, like Luke Danes, might think it’s ridiculous to expect to learn to fish from reading a book. While I too think that it’s slightly silly, I have pretty much the same attitude as Rory.* When I want to learn something, my first thought is to read a book about it. So a few months ago, when I was really struggling with my happiness levels and needed some help with organising my life, home, and time, I went straight to the library.

I started browsing the psychology and self-help aisle. Am I the only one who feels irrationally self-concious when looking at the self-help shelves? As if everyone else is judging me? Anyway, I ignored this feeling, because what’s embarrassing about needing help with some things? Nothing. I ended up finding a few very useful books that day, and overall I am pleasantly surprised at how a few little tidbits and words of wisdom have stuck with me and have actually helped me be happier.

The ambitiously titled How to Do Everything and be Happy by Peter Jones, offered some very practical ways to get organised and set goals. But most importantly, it made me more aware of the power of our thoughts. I began to notice that most of my thoughts had a negative tone. The book suggests thinking about your goals as if they are already done, which felt extremely odd to me as I’m more used to thinking about my goals as if I’ll never reach them. Which is bad, very bad.

I then read Gretchen Rubin’s Happier at Home which was inspiring on many levels. (It actually offered extra motivation for my Capsule Wardrobe Project.) This book really challenged my assumption that we act the way we feel. I think that’s a sensible assumption, isn’t it? As it turns out, Rubin found that quite often it’s the opposite: how we act, and how we think, affects how we feel! Isn’t that mind-blowing? So if we think kind thoughts, and engage in nurturing, positive activities, we can actually raise our happiness levels.

I began to think about the following statement, a bit like a daily mantra:

“Think happy, feel happy.”

Β It was with this new awareness that I received the perfectly-timed newsletter from my favourite yogi, Adriene, last week. The topic was conscious thoughts and how powerful they can be. Adriene talked about the teachings of yogi Yogananda who really believed in the power of thought.

These lines really resonated with me:

“What if every thought you had were to be realised as truth?

Would you be more careful with your thoughts?

Would your thoughts demean you or support you?”

Conscious thoughts & being happier @ A little adventureOh my, did this resonate with me! I realised that most of my thoughts weren’t supporting me, in fact, quite the opposite was true and often they were actually torturous. I had to admit that my negative and pessimistic thoughts helped create situations that are affecting my happiness. Not good.

I am now determined to be more aware of my thoughts, to notice when they veer towards the unhelpful and the negative. To consciously check my thoughts. To focus more on positive thoughts and setting intentions. I really think more mindful thinking can have a significant impact on our happiness levels. Do you notice your thoughts? Are you careful to avoid negative and self-demeaning thoughts? I urge you to try to be more conscious of your thoughts and to use their power to support you instead of hinder you.

*Apologies if you are not a Gilmore Girls fan. But maybe you should be? πŸ™‚


11 thoughts on “Conscious thoughts & being happier

  1. Katherine @ I Wish I Lived in a Library says:

    I’m trying to get better about conscious thought and just being mindful how I spend my time. I’m bad about getting caught up in unimportant details and then by the end of the day (or week or month) I’ve not only accomplished nothing but I haven’t enjoyed anything either. I haven’t read much Self Help but I’m a little self conscious about it but that’s what Amazon is for! Interesting post.

    • Maria says:

      There is a bit of stigma around reading self-help books, isn’t there?

      In the past year especially, I’ve struggled with mindfulness too. It’s so easy to either focus on details or completely detach from everything and waste so much time being unproductive and feeling miserable.

      Conscious thoughts and mindfulness can make such a difference to our happiness levels!

  2. chowmeyow says:

    I am 100% with you – I head straight to the library as well! πŸ™‚

    I’ve been on a similar journey about being mindful of my thoughts – I’ve found the same thing, when I stop thinking negative thoughts, it helps me feel more positive. I love Gretchen Rubin’s books on happiness. I also loved “The Buddha Walks into a Bar” – it’s a fantastic perspective on Buddhism with a 21st century perspective. It stresses approaching others with “Loving Kindness.” Once I started to keep this in the center of my mind, I was amazed how much better and happier I felt!

    • Maria says:

      Oh that’s a lovely sentiment, kindness towards others definitely contributes to our own happiness. I shall look that book up next time I’m at the library, thanks for the suggestion!

  3. Lucia says:

    As you guys, I head straight to the library. πŸ™‚ Books are always helpful!

    I want to thank you for this post, Maria. It’s really inspiring. I often (too often, actually) tend to have negative thoughts and I feel pessimistic most of the time…apart for some short-lived bursts of optimism. I used to be very positive and noticing how more pessimistic I’ve become makes things even worst (I’m not sure if this makes any sense…).
    I’m determined to be more aware of my thoughts as well and focus on positive and helpful thinking. I used to be able to do that, so I know I can be like that again!

    • Maria says:

      Oh Lu, I totally get what you mean.

      A while ago, my boyfriend made a passing comment about how when we met 5 years ago I was much more positive and enthusiastic about life. Hearing that really shocked and saddened me. I guess I went for a long time without noticing my negativity, so it was a wake-up call. I’m trying to think of it just like you said: I used to be able to be positive and so I know I can be like that again!

      Please consider me your positive thinking buddy!

      • Lucia says:

        We definitely can be like that again.
        We’re positive thinking buddy and we’re going to help each other stay positive! πŸ™‚

        I haven’t been good today, mainly because I had to wake very early…but the pic you’ve posted on Facebook reminded me of my/our resolution. I’ve focused on a happy thought and made a plan of work for the afternoon. Thanks!

        Oh, I’ve also noticed that the
        “What if every thought you had were to be realised as truth?”
        is a great help for me, in checking my negative thoughts and not dwelling on them.

        • Lucia says:

          We’re positive thinking buddies
          …it looks like I really didn’t have enough sleep last night…or I just don’t know plurals anymore πŸ˜‰

          • Maria says:

            Yesterday I woke up feeling anxious and so I really needed to be reminded that everything is going to be ok, which is why I posted that picture on Facebook. I’m thrilled that you found it helpful too!

  4. Kara Benz says:

    Lovely post, Maria! I’ve also been on a mission to be more conscientious about my mindset lately. It’s a breath of fresh air to find a kindred spirit in that regard πŸ™‚

    • Maria says:

      It does take quite a bit of effort to try and check the negativity, doesn’t it? But it’s definitely worth it! And having positivity buddies makes it easier! πŸ™‚

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