For the second post in our wellbeing series "Five Keys to Wellbeing for Change Makers" we are exploring mental wellbeing, and whether you realize this already or not, the mind is in fact where the ultimate challenge lies when it comes to wellbeing. Our mind is what makes us human, it is what allows us to consciously participate in this earthly experience. And when you understand the power of your mind and learn to optimize it for creating your world as a positive, healthy, joyful place to be, the other elements of whole wellbeing will follow. As a change maker seeking to make an impact, it is important to understand that you will have more to give to worthwhile causes if you are in the right head space and not consumed with negative thoughts. Without mental wellbeing, your physical, emotional, financial, and spiritual areas will all falter. While there are so many tools for taming the monkey mind, we will explore four key things right now that can help you begin to foster a positive mental state.
1. Track your thoughts
Take a moment to check in and assess where you're spending most of your time in your thoughts. There are only two places you can be residing. You are either in “fear” based thought or ”love” based thought. You will know which one it is just by the way your body feels. There is no gray area here.
If you feel anxious, sad, worried, jealous, or angry, you can be certain the root of those feelings stem from fear. If you look deep enough, chances are you’re either questioning your worth, selling out on your values, or not trusting your process. There is always an answer that can help you make the correction if you take the time to listen. All negative emotion has a positive intention. When you're having negative thoughts recognize that they are trying to get your attention so you can make a correction. They are fear based, tricky little mind monsters and you're the one with the choice to either let them occupy space or you can do an eviscerate them simply by choosing loving thoughts.
When you're feeling expansive, open, optimistic, grateful, creative, and at peace, you are residing in thoughts that stem from love. The love camp is where you can thrive and show up as your best. Sometimes you will have to fake it until you make it by choosing any new positive thought that helps you change the channel in your head from fear to love. One of the easiest ways to do this is to focus on things you are grateful for. When things are messy in our lives, it’s sometimes hard to find gratitude, but there is always something there if you pay attention and allow it to come through.
As we've evolved as a species, the fight or flight response in our brain has adapted from protecting us from true threats for our safety to taking over as protector of our own painful emotions. Unfortunately, it is not truly equipped to do that. Do you really want your reptilian brain to be in charge of your happiness? You can choose your thoughts and the more you choose positive ones, the less you'll be controlled by the false fears that keep you from being the best version of you.
2. Clear out mental chatter
Hopefully you're grasping the concept of love vs. fear. In Michael Singer’s book, The Untethered Soul, he asks that you go inside and listen to all the voices of you. He then points out that none of those voices you're listening to are really you. They are just noise. How many conversations do you have with yourself at a stop light? Stop listening to the chatter! YOU are the one listening to the voices. You are the witness to your own thoughts and only you can decide what you are going to pay attention to. What you focus on grows, so make sure you're focusing on something that will bring you what you want. In other words, what you give your attention to and what you continue to dream about will begin to manifest outside of you as your reality. Thoughts, feelings, and actions create your world. Stop listening to the noise and static.
Everything comes down to “don’t wants” and “do wants” in one way or another. A simple way to clear out mental clutter is to bring your awareness to your do’s and don’ts. Take a moment and write down three things you “do want” in your life. Now, write down three things you “don’t want” in your life. After you've completed your lists, walk away from them for a while. When you return to review and read what you've written in both columns, you will notice the “don’t want” list originates from fear. The “do want” list comes from total love. Pick one of your “don’t wants”, the one that scares you the most. Ask yourself what action you can take in order to put that fear to rest. Begin to shift your thoughts and actions to support what you DO want. Everything good will begin to show up and those fear based thoughts will begin to dissipate.
3. Fire up your creativity
You're the artist of your own life. When you're expressing yourself creatively you are honoring your true nature and offering your gift to the world whether you plan on sharing it or not. You probably wanted to be a dancer, an artist, a writer, or a singer when you were growing up, right? I know I did and I know most people I’ve asked agree that they had grand dreams of expressing themselves in some creative way.
It seems most of us put those dreams on the back burner due to societal or familial programming. We let the dreams of artistic expression go because due to a fear of scarcity or a fear we will fail. You don’t need to be out there creating from competition. Not everyone will create masterpieces, but it is extremely important you are finding a way to express yourself creatively. Accessing your right brain through artistic endeavors is one way to quiet the analytical, over thinking, fearful mind. Take a moment to draw a picture of your life. Let loose and allow yourself to express through color and form and see what kind of insights you can get through the process.
Draw a picture. Play an instrument. Write in your journal or write a book! Dance like nobody is watching or sing at the top of your lungs. It’s good for your soul and occupies your mind in a positive way so you're not constantly obsessing on the things you don’t want.
4. Let your heart lead
The HeartMath Institute, a nonprofit research and educational institution has been conducting research on the power of the heart and its effect on mental wellbeing as well as overall health. They have uncovered revolutionary findings and are continuing to research the significant relationship between the heart and the brain. With over two decades of scientifically validated research, their findings explain the extent the heart contributes to our daily lives.
HeartMath recorded the heart to be approximately 60 times greater electrically and up to 5,000 times stronger magnetically than the brain. This discovery places the brain quite weak in comparison to the heart. Their research also introduces that not only the brain, but also the heart itself, is an intelligent system. These studies indicate specifically how the heart sends more information to the brain than vice versa. It’s time to give that mind of yours a break and let your heart inform your decisions as it was designed to do.
Take a moment and drop into the energy in your heart. Does it feel contracted or expanded? At HeartMath, they have discovered that the optimum energy for us to operate from is a state of coherence. By definition, coherence the quality of forming a unified whole. One of the ways HeartMath has discovered creates the coherent state is by activating a feeling of gratitude in your heart. Close your eyes, bring your awareness to your heart, and think of anything that you are grateful for. Allow that energy to grow and expand in your body. You will begin to feel an overriding sense of peace. The mind will become quiet and calm as you will find yourself in a peaceful state. Gratitude is the quickest way to find yourself in the positive love frequency and if you haven’t figured it out by now, that is where you will do your best work and offer your best gifts.
Use your mind to learn and implement plans. Don’t allow it to have too much false power and control over you. Listen to your heart ‘s wisdom and make decisions from that coherent place. Make your mind your minion and allow your heart to be your master.