How To Stop Thinking Something And Be More Cheerful (5 Methods)
It’s 6 pm on a Wednesday. You’ve just got home from a long day at work.
You fiddle with the light switch to get the lighting just right then pour a glass of wine and order your favourite takeout. You toss your phone on the coffee table away out of reach.
Relaxing into the sofa, you switch on the TV.
You are calm. There is peace.
Out of nowhere, from the nethers of your consciousness, a little voice butts in on your zen attitude.
It sounds a bit like you, but whinier:
“Er, hello. I just wanted to remind you about earlier at your business lunch when you kept referring to the menu as a recipe.”
Ah, damn, I forgot about that. That was embarrassing.
The voice, more confident now you’ve given it some attention, continues,
“and then when the guy corrected it, you outright denied it.”
Oh, God. I did. Ughh.
Now the voice, emboldened, asks,
“Are you sure the meeting went as well as you think it did?
I mean, you are usually bad at these things. So why’d it be any different this time?”
Cue sweaty palms. Bitten fingernails. Pounding heart.
Any chance of unwinding tonight is gone.
The only thing that matters now is thinking about how badly the meeting went.
To hell with the delicious takeout. You ain’t even hungry.
How I stopped thinking negative thoughts
I used to have an unhealthy relationship with my mind.
I was so attached to my thoughts that there was no space between the noise my mind was making and the awareness behind it.
It was impossible to observe the nature of my mind while I sat deep within its trenches.
I was so closely knit to my thoughts that I had no platform to watch it from.
So, what changed?
The more I meditated, the more aware I became of my thoughts. This allowed me to observe objectively and make the necessary changes to create a more harmonious mind.
Today, armed with the new skills you’re about to learn, you’ll take back control of yourself. No longer will negative thoughts ruin your splendour. No more will you follow your thoughts aimlessly around in circles.
Compulsive living will be a thing of the past. See-ya!
The first thing I noticed when I started meditating was there was more ease in whatever I did. Life flowed more effortlessly. I had more composure, less stress, and no agitation if things didn’t go my way.
But then another thing started to happen. Something unexpected. I noticed this new found peace was a state of consciousness all by itself. Neighbours to, but separate from, the waking state.
Science would call it perceiving without thinking. Yogis call it Turiya. Eckhart Tolle calls it the Witness. Buddist’s call it No-mind. Religions call it God. It goes by many names. All pointing to the same thing – pure awareness.
How does this help you stop thinking something?
Well, meditation cultivates the awareness behind your thoughts. The more frequently and consistently you meditate the more this awareness grows. This opens up your experience of life in a number of ways.
You start noticing the compulsive ways in which you operate. It becomes possible to observe the nature of your mind, and how it keeps you trapped in a behavioural loop.
On an experiential level, your thoughts stop you from experiencing anything new. The people and location may change, but the experience is repeated over and over again.
For example, how many times do you have to experience the state of consciousness that comes with being drunk on alcohol? Ten times? Fifty times? A hundred? A thousand?
This repetition of experience is what yogis call the karmic system. Every action has a reaction as long as we’re living out our compulsive thoughts.
But why would you want to be more aware of the ways you’re psychologically trapped?”
If you were a chicken in a cage, would you want to know the limitations of your existence, or would you prefer to learn how and why you are trapped?
Because only then is there the opportunity of liberation.
Raising awareness is like that. It’s not always easy. It’s easier to bury your head in the sand, but is it the right thing to do? Is it the best use of your time?
If you were a prisoner on death row with an opportunity to escape, wouldn’t you use every ounce of energy working towards liberation? This is how it is for spiritual seekers.
Becoming more aware of the ways you inflict pain on yourself and how you trap yourself with ineffective thinking can be painful, but freedom is always worth fighting for.
With a good, consistent meditation practice you can change your compulsive actions into conscious ones.
Let’s say you have a habit of watching television every evening after work. Although you’d rather paint with watercolours or learn to play the guitar, you always end up watching television instead. As soon as you walk through the door, an unconscious impulse takes over you, and all you can do is fall onto the couch and switch on the TV.
With an increased awareness of your behaviour, the more possible it is to change habits and work out strategies to combat the unconscious behaviour.
For example, if you find tiredness to be the cause then take a shower as soon as you get in. This will make you more alert and could raise your consciousness enough to break the automated pull to watch TV.
Growing up I was amazed how effortlessly I could spend hours playing video games. Hours would go by as if they were minutes. The world around me stopped existing. My attention was anchored to the activity.
I’d wonder why it was so easy to sustain my focus on a video game, but not on something I truly cared about. The reason is that the mind is only concerned about survival. Playing a video game doesn’t use up much mental energy whereas studying for an exam does. The mind left in its compulsive state will choose to save its energy in case it’s needed later to survive.
However, the process is the same, sustained focus on a particular object or activity brings the mind to silence. Allowing you to operate at a higher level of functioning without the distracting commentary of the mind.
Mindfulness is a good way to stop thinking something by fully submerging yourself in an activity. The idea is to focus so hard on what you’re doing that your thoughts subside.
This will happen to you naturally when you’re doing something you really enjoy.
Or, anything you’ve sustained focus on for a considerable amount of time.
That’s the goal with mindfulness. It’s that simple. Absorb yourself in action.
It really should be called mindlessness. Doing without thinking.
By losing yourself in an activity you can stop yourself from thinking about something.
You’ll be so absorbed in the activity that you will naturally stop identifying with your mind.
Switch Up Your Emotional Frequency
There is nothing that dancing in the shower to your favourite hyped-up tune can’t solve. Even if I feel like the dirt of the world, letting loose in the shower never fails to lift my mood. When life gets hard, get weird.
Because here’s the thing, if you’re feeling sad, pretend to be happy for sixty seconds. Broadly smile, saunter around the room, let out a chuckle. Then see how you feel after. There is no way that you will feel the same as you did a moment ago.
All it takes is a moment of conscious action to be happy. Although it might not always feel like it, your emotional state is a choice. You are hundred percent responsible for your experience of life. There are many things that will happen in your life that are outside your control, but how you respond to what happens is always up to you.
“Cause some don’t agree with how I do this,Dr. Dre, NWA
I get straight and meditate like a Buddhist.”
Thoughts are powerful. A thought is enough to make your knees shake, palms sweat, and heart pound. But what comes up must come down. When energy is created it has to be expressed.
If you pent up emotions instead of letting them flow, the emotional energy will find other ways to express itself. That’s why a psychologist will tell you it’s good to cry. It releases the energy created by a thought.
We live in an age where few people express their emotions fully. Too worried what others might think to laugh full-heartedly. Too worried about being labelled an emotional wreck to sob uncontrollably. But these emotional reactions are very natural.
It’s possible to express emotions to such heights for a reason. If we feel really sad but only allow ourselves to shed a tear or two then the energy that’s been allocated for the emotion might find expression in other, more harmful ways like disease or depression.
Thoughts and emotions are different sides of the same beast. Linked together in our systems, you can’t have one without the other.
Imagine a truck. Your thoughts are the cab and your emotions are the cargo. When the truck turns a corner, the cab turns swiftly but the cargo takes longer to turn.
This is how the relationship between thoughts and emotions operate.
Your thoughts move quickly but your emotions take longer to turn.
How does this stop you from thinking something though?
By expressing the thought or emotion it loses its intensity or disappears entirely.
This won’t stop the thought from returning later, but it’s a way to break the chain of negative reactions.
If you’re angry all the time, chances are you’ve been having recurring angry thoughts for a while. Express that anger in a safe environment. Like taking up boxing or jiujitsu.
If you’re in your head too much, arrange to meet up with a friend, or arrange a call, tell them what you’re thinking. Or if you’d rather keep it to yourself, start a journal and write down how you’re feeling.
Thought waffle or problem-solving
The mind likes to hear the sound of its own voice. It’ll say things just to say them.
The mind only does this because we’ve identified with it. By giving the mind attention, we’ve supercharged its power and it’s difficult not to listen.
The heart pumps blood around the body, the lungs draw in air absorbing oxygen into the bloodstream, and the stomach digests food. Our organs are only concerned with the survival of our bodies.
The mind is no different
The mind acts as a troubleshooter sorting through data collected by the senses and figuring out the best solutions to guarantee the greatest chance of survival.
Because of the intelligence of our minds, we’ve become Gods on this planet. Science bends nature to its whims and follies.
But we’re corrupt Gods, because at some point in our evolution we started identifying with our mind. We became our problems. We became our anxieties.
Instead of seeing the world (and our place in it) for what it is, we began viewing it through the eyes of individuality. Now each human had individual motives that worked against the flow of life. This is what the Bible depicts in the story of Adam and Eve falling from grace in the Garden of Eden.
But it was a necessary step in our evolution because without falling from grace, we would never have the opportunity to claw our way back to it.
The difference when we get there this time around is that we’d have done it consciously. This is what Gautama the Buddha meant when he said, “Without ignorance, there would be no enlightenment.”
Untangling ourselves from mind and body identification is the name of the game. A simple way to do this is by creating a habit of asking yourself, what is the purpose of this thought? If the mind is trying to work out a logical problem then it’s working how it should do.
But if it’s repeating the same thought process over and over fueled by an inner hankering or anxiety then it’s operating away from its natural process as a result of your identification with its idle chit-chat.
Negative thoughts drain life of its exuberance. Notice how things always work out for the best when you don’t think about how they’re going to unfold.
The mind is like any other organ in your body. A tool for your awareness. Only because there is an absence of awareness, the mind has taken control.
Negative thoughts drain life of its exuberance. By becoming more conscious of how you talk to yourself you can let go of the expectation of how you think life should be, and you can start enjoying life for how it actually is.
Your frame of mind, at any moment, is always the most important aspect of your life.
Learning how to stop thinking something will open up the world for you in a myriad of ways. Opportunities will pour into your life like never before. Soon enough, there will be nothing you cannot become.
So here we go. Time to bring your thoughts into the light of your awareness. Time to start living life consciously and not based on your past experiences or projections of your future. Time to start truly having new experiences.
You already have all the tools you need.
All the love,