If you want to improve the trajectory of your well-being, you may consider starting by changing your mind.
Because I am a former cancer researcher, healthcare industry veteran and stress-resilience evangelist, people often ask me:
“What is the one thing I can do to mitigate stress and improve my health?”
Can you imagine if one thing, like a magic genie, could take away all our pain? What if this one thing would allow us to do all of the following?
- Bounce back when we fall.
- Enjoy every moment without regret about the past and worries about the future.
- Open doors to abundant health, happiness, success, love, and anything else we wish for.
- Instantly turn the volume down on anything that steals our energy away.
- Feel deeply connected to the present moment as opposed to being overwhelmed by the ups and downs of life.
My friends, one thing has all these powers: Our mind!
I want to take a few moments to acquaint you with the most potent antidote to almost everything that holds you back. This includes depression, anxiety, relationship problems, poor performance, insomnia, hypertension and other issues.
“Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.” Henry Ford
Your mind gives meaning to everything in your life.
Do you ever wonder why you cringe when you see a spider, feel uncomfortable with change, or feel nervous at a party? Everything you think, imagine, dream, fear, and desire are all by-products of your mind. From conception all the way to this moment, your mind has been developing patterns. These patterns are representations of the meanings of sounds, words, sights, or even scents. Their purpose is to establish a blueprint of how you approach rewards and avoid dangers. Nerve cells firing and wiring together develop different regions of our brain to form these patterns. What we call memory is the systematic organization of events, classified by their assigned meaning in relationship to a corresponding emotion and action. Most of these memories cannot be consciously recalled, yet they run our life on autopilot. Many of them are limiting beliefs.
The more we engage in a specific thought pattern, the more nerve cells fire and wire together making that pathway stronger.
If you sacrifice work/life balance and self-care to work harder and harder, perhaps your subconscious programming has linked hard work to success. Or if you defer your own desires to please others, perhaps pleasing others has linked to your feeling worthy.
Try paying attention. Can you spot any limiting beliefs that are tripping you up?
“The energy of the mind is the essence of life.” Aristotle
Your mind is responsible for your emotional state.
My understanding of the human mind has been greatly enhanced through the incredible work of Dr. Daniel Siegel, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine and Executive Director of the Mindsight Institute.
Mindsight is the ability to see and shape the activity of the mind behind the thought, memory or behavior. It has been shown that cultivating mindsight, results to a better integrated, more balanced and healthier brain.
Studying mindsight, has taught me that our mind is the system that processes and regulates information and energy flow. We can see our mind at work in the 60,000 thoughts we have every day about life situations that we encounter.
Whether you are at a job interview, on a date, or having a difficult discussion with your teen, it is your mind that determines how you feel and what you will do.
Life situations themselves, or people, don’t have the power to make us feel defeated, helpless, or depressed. Our thoughts about a situation lead us to negative emotions and inhibiting actions.
I invite you to consider: “How do you want to feel? “You can change the way you feel by recognizing choice points in your thought process in any situation and altering the focal point of your attention. Then you can choose actions that serve you well and help you arrive at your desired outcomes.
“The mind is a powerful force. It can enslave us or empower us. It can plunge us into the depths of misery or take us to the heights of ecstasy. Learn to use the power wisely.” David Cuschieri
A healthy mind-body connection is key for your optimal performance.
What your mental activity rests upon will determine the energy available to meet your life’s demands. Your embodied brain, which is linked to all of your body systems, is the CEO of your energy. Your brain works with your cardiovascular, immune, and endocrine systems to keep you safe.
But your mind is the operating system of your body. If being asked to lead a meeting means “disaster ahead “to you, your stress response will steal all the energy you need to perform well.
When someone says something critical to you and you feel your stomach tie up into a knot, that is your energy being stolen from you through the shenanigans of your untamed mind. Your stress response will compromise the optimal performance of your body every time you encounter something, no matter how small, that your mind has assigned as a threat. Your thinking brain is shut down, which will undoubtedly compromise your work performance as well as your health.
Next time you experience physiological changes like your heart rate increasing, pause and check in with your mind. You may ask a question like, “What about this situation makes me feel this way? “Your lower brain does not have enough data to answer this question. You can redirect your energy back to your more highly evolved thinking brain, which can reinstate the balance needed for optimal performance.
“The human mind is the last great unexplored continent on earth. It contains riches beyond our wildest dreams. It will return anything we want to plant.” Earl Nightingale
Changing your mind is within your control.
Science has proven that our thoughts can not only change the way we feel and act, but also the structure and function of our brain. However, you don’t have to be a neuroscientist to embrace your incredible capacity to train your attention and use your mind to sculpt a more resilient brain. You and I can strengthen our ability to monitor information and energy flow, one thought at a time.
But often we don’t know where to start.
You can try these processes as a beginning.
- Every time you have a thought that leads to an automatic response that does not serve you, observe it and let it go. Recognize that it is just a thought.
- Create space between an event and your reaction to provide yourself with the opportunity to choose the meaning you give to something.
- Question emotions that do not serve you. This allows you to create new patterns and update your subconscious mind and your brain. Consider the impact of this practice, for example, if you chose to replace contempt with affection when having a difference of opinion with a loved one.
Would you like to learn more about how you can actually turn your thinking brain back on when stress has overwhelmed it? If so, I offer a practical way in the form of five questions you can work with. Click on the link provided to join my community to receive this tool and start the process of taming your mind today! http://bit.ly/JoinMyndZen
Not that long ago I believed that the notion that we can transform our life simply by using the power of our mind was “new age hype with no scientific basis. “I believed that relentless hard work is what leads to optimal performance and ultimately success.
Failing to maintain my own well-being, despite doing what I thought were all the right things, proved me wrong.
Plenty of scientific evidence exists that shows that our frame of mind is a profound predictor of our health.
In fact, a 2012 study that examined the relationship between stress, the perception that stress affects health and actual health outcomes concluded as follows: “The study subjects that experienced a lot of stress and also believed that stress impacted their health had a 43% increased risk of dying prematurely.”(Keller. A.et al, (2012), Does the Perception that Stress Affects Health Matter? NIH, Health Psychology.)
By taking an active stance in choosing the focus of our mind’s attention, we can select the state from which we will face the inevitable challenges of our existence.
We can then handle life’s stressors in a coherent manner, without having the sense that every adversity is the “end of the world. “Beyond feeling good on a daily basis, maintaining an inner state of calm through our thoughts actually prevents wear and tear on our organs. When we don’t waste our inner resources for unnecessary defense, we have them available to help us perform optimally.
You see my friends, there is one thing, like a magic genie that we can do to improve our health.
We can become our own genie and embark on the wonderful journey of training our mind to develop a happier, more resilient brain.
When we are ready to embrace our own power, we can work with our mind to transform our life, one thought at a time.