I’ve learned over the years that guiding your thoughts yields better results than trying to control them. Often when we have decided to aim to feel more positive by working on our thoughts, we tend to make it harder on ourselves by trying to force it. Many people teach in meditation that, rather than trying to stop all thoughts, we should learn to observe them and allow them to pass by. The same concept can be helpful in our everyday lives.
Many of us are living in a fast-paced, busy culture. Finding ways to destress and not feel overwhelmed can take some practice in how we experience our present. When you want to feel joyful and relaxed in your daily life, it is helpful to know that it’s not about trying to control every thought—it’s about learning to guide your thoughts. You do that by noticing how you are thinking more often.
The awareness of how you are feeling when things are busy is key. We often push through and do not pay attention when life is busy and stressful. We get through it by triggering our adrenaline. Our adrenaline is designed to kick in for emergency situations. When we get our adrenaline going daily by being stressed, our health and kidneys can be poorly affected.
We often get caught up in our busy world and forget to notice how little we are breathing deeply, feeling relaxed and balancing this pace. Even noticing many times in your day how you are feeling and breathing can be a small step into remembering to take deep breaths and feel calm.
Paying attention to the little moments in your day can provide a powerful yet small opportunity that is doable. For many, big changes are hard to do all at once. Instead of struggling to rise to overwhelming expectations, scale it back to some smaller steps. Think of it like eating your meal with smaller bites and slowing down. The idea is to pay attention throughout your day to notice when you are feeling those stressful and unpleasant feelings, and then to gently guide them towards more pleasing thoughts.
If our situations in life don’t provide much opportunity to feel calm, we have to find ways that are applicable in our lives to feel calm. Noticing when we are feeling stress and when our breathing gets shallow, we can take a second to take a deep breath and decide to think about something pleasing. Just for a moment. It doesn’t take much time or money to stop and think about either a pleasant memory, something you’re looking forward to, or something you’d enjoy. This immediately slows down your heart rate, allows more space to breathe deeply, and evokes some calmer emotions.
Once you feel a bit more calm, you can move through your day and handle more details with a bit more ease. It amazes me at how much better my decision making process is when I’m not feeling stressed. When I make decisions from a calmer place, I also feel more at peace after making them. You can feel more sure-footed. As you feel more ease through your day, you will in turn feel less stressed, less overwhelmed, and certainly less negative. This leads to better health and more positive feelings.
Guiding moves with more ease. Controlling is more forceful. Can you feel the difference between the two? It’s just a small adjustment towards feeling more joyful daily. The more joy you can harness more often, the happier your daily life will be. It amazes me how powerful small shifts can be. Perhaps it’s because they are easier and more applicable. Change can be more permanent when it’s comfortable and simple.
Remember that change doesn’t have to be hard and gigantic. It can be easily done and small-scale. It’s taking smaller steps and smaller bites. As the old saying goes: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!”