Guest contribution by Wendy Quan
Before we launch into the question that can make your day more positive, ask yourself:
- Do you believe that thoughts affect emotions?
- Do you believe that emotions affect your life?
When I ask these questions to a room of people, most hands inevitably rise, along with expressions of contemplation and gentle head nodding. Your thoughts are constantly streaming all day long, and creating your perception of life’s experiences. If you pay attention to your thoughts during the day, you may notice that these thoughts are plentiful and jump from subject to subject, or that you are ruminating about a particularly bothersome subject. There is a term in mindfulness called the ‘monkey mind’ which quite fittingly describes when your thoughts bounce around between topics.
The one question I ask my audiences, which is really very simple, can make a very big difference in people’s lives. Catch yourself as often as you can during the day, and ask yourself this question:
“Do I need to be thinking about this right now?”
When you ask yourself this question, you will observe your current thought and hopefully become aware if that thought is useful or not. There certainly is ‘functional thought’ which is productive and useful, like planning. But many of our thoughts are ruminations about something that may be bothering us, or worrying about something coming up that hasn’t even happened yet.
When you ask yourself “Do I need to be thinking about this right now?” you become more aware of whether the thought is productive or is just stressing you out. For example, if you are worried about something but have already made up your mind as to how you are going to deal with it, there is no reason to keep thinking about it. By catching yourself with this phrase, you can make a conscious decision that you will now move on from that thought and think about something else (hopefully more positive!).
Give this one easy question a try and see what difference it makes for you. Chances are you will be happy to see that it helps you have a more positive day.
Wendy Quan, founder of The Calm Monkey, is the industry leader helping organizations implement mindfulness meditation programs and combining change management techniques to create personal and organizational change resiliency. She trains passionate meditators to become workplace facilitators through workshops and online training.
Wendy is a certified organizational change manager who has been recognized as a pioneer by the University of California, Berkeley and the global Association of Change Management Professionals. Her life’s purpose is to help people create a better experience of life.