The following is an edited and excerpted (for space) from "The Art of Redirecting Negative Thoughts."
Buddha described the human mind as being filled with monkeys, swinging from branch to branch, screeching and chattering nonstop. That’s why the mind is often referred to as your “monkey mind.” ... This is especially true when one monkey, fear, is particularly loud with warnings of potential threats, both real and imagined. The more you try to ignore it, the louder it seems to become.
Fear serves a specific purpose—to protect. This is such a primal instinct that it can easily dominate your thoughts and, when left unchecked, leads to negative thought loops that play over and over like an old record player that gets caught on repeat.
Those who garden know that you must keep on top of pulling weeds; otherwise, they proliferate quickly and can crowd out the vegetation you wish to grow. In this case, you want positive thoughts to be like weeds and crowd out the negative thoughts. To get started, ask yourself, “What are some things I personally love doing? Who makes me feel happy when I’m around them?” Then, make it a point to make plans that incorporate that positivity into your life.
Here are some other actions you can take that inspire positive habits:
- Gratitude journaling: The process of writing down what you are grateful for every day can have a positive impact on your life and your outlook on the future. Spend time each evening jotting down 3-5 things for which you are grateful. It can be as simple as, “I am grateful for my heart that beats.”
- Seek stillness: Make an effort to seek out stillness in whatever form appeals to you. The more you access stillness, the more you can tap into your inner peace, truth, and strength. It’s there, just waiting for you to notice. Try seeking stillness through meditation, hiking in nature, listening to calming music, and practicing breathing exercises.
- Surround yourself with positive vibes: Seek out situations and people that are positive by reading inspirational books, attending lectures by people you admire, and listening to positive music. (Music artist Michael Franti always brings on the good vibes.)
- Perform Seva: The word “Seva” in Sanskrit means “selfless service.” This type of service uplifts the collective through togetherness and compassion. Focus on how you can be of service by helping people, animals, or the earth. Try picking up trash, volunteering at organizations that interest you, or something as simple as buying coffee for someone else.
- Use technology for your benefit: If you are a tech person, there are applications available that support increasing positivity, like Happify. Try it out and see the difference it can make in your life.