The warmer temperatures we have been enjoying this month are a welcome reminder that spring is just around the corner. Spring is that time of year we take inventory of the many cleaning projects that need to be tackled around our home in order to keep it attractive, comfortable and functioning well. But have you ever thought that spring can also be a time to clean out the unwanted thoughts that clutter the mind? Investing time in this endeavor can go a long way towards restoring your thinking to optimal functioning so feelings of happiness and your life goals can be well supported. Everyone has experienced a negative thought from time to time, but when this way of thinking becomes an established pattern it can rob us of our full enjoyment of life and cause us to miss out on the joy that the present moment has to offer.
To begin a spring cleaning of your mind, first begin to take notice of how often negative thinking is influencing your day to day experience. When you notice a negative thought entering your mind, take a moment to evaluate whether or not the thought is true. More often than not, negative thoughts are based in fear. Take for instance someone who is in the midst of a job search and experiencing frustration. A negative thought that might appear is “I am never going to find a job!” Although this is an understandable thought given the difficult situation, taking time to stop and evaluate this assumption is a good first step towards keeping an optimistic frame of mind. Acknowledge that the process associated with finding a job is indeed challenging; however, what is also true is that consistent effort will increase the likelihood of finding work. Even when a negative thought holds some element of truth; if it is not helpful to the betterment of yourself or your situation, it is best to let it go!
When coping with negative thinking, it is also important to remember we can always choose another thought. Some people like to use a mantra or a statement repeated frequently to interrupt an unwelcome thoughts. Typically a mantra provides encouragement and is an uplifting message. One of my own favorite during times of challenge is “everything is working for my good.” This is a way of expressing trust and confidence rather than pessimism about the current situation or an uncertain outcome. Other examples of a mantra are; “I change my thoughts, I change my world.”: Norman Vincent Peale or “Every day in every way I’m getting better and better.”: Laura Silva. Using a mantra is an effective way to interrupt a negative thought process with a message of positive expectation and empowerment. Additionally, having an attitude of being grateful can be beneficial. According to an article by Amy Morin LCSW titled “Gratitude improves psychological health” “Gratitude reduces a multitude of toxic emotions, from envy and resentment to frustration and regret. Robert Emmons, a leading gratitude researcher, has conducted multiple studies on the link between gratitude and well-being. His research confirms that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression.” Expressing gratitude for the things that you currently have and enjoy is an effective way of crowding negative thoughts out of your mind.
Lastly, keep your mind healthy by surrounding yourself with beauty and things that bring you feelings of peace and contentment. These can be as simple as a child’s piece of colorful artwork, pictures of loved ones, favorite mementos of happy times or a bouquet of wildflowers. Take time to reconnect with the things that bring you joy like old friends, hobbies or remembering what you loved doing as a child. Immerse yourself in something new that you always wanted to learn or try. Read an inspiring book or see an uplifting movie. An active and engaged mind is less vulnerable to problematic thinking. This spring clear your mind of negative thoughts and see your world open up to positive change.