“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” — Aristotle
There are lots of reasons for controlling your thinking.
Perhaps one of the most important reasons is that your thoughts create your feelings. if you focus on the bright side of things or look to opportunity or how to make the most of whatever happens to you, then you can improve how you feel on a regular basis.
Think of it as feeling good by design or skilled emotional intelligence.
By mastering your thoughts you can master your feelings.
In Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy Revised and Updated, David Burns teaches us that our thoughts create our feelings.
World, Thoughts and Mood
Events happen. You interpret and make meaning of the events. This creates your mood. Burns explains the relationship between the world, your thoughts and your mood:
- World – a series of positive, neutral and negative events.
- Thoughts – you interpret the events with a series of thoughts that continually flow through your mind. This is called your “internal
- Mood – Your feelings are created by your thoughts and not
the actual events. All experiences must be processed through your brain and
given a conscious meaning before you experience any emotional response.
It’s Not What Happens to You, It’s How You React
When you’re anxious or depressed, your thoughts might be distorted.
Via Feeling Good:
“It is not the actual events but your perception that result in changes in mood.
When you are sad,your thoughts will represent a realistic interpretation of negative events.
When you are depressed or anxious, your thoughts will always be illogical, distorted, unrealistic, or just plain wrong.”
Radio Dial Example
Your thoughts can be distorted depending on how you’re feeling. You can tune in to the wrong things or blow them out of proportion. Burns illustrates the point with an example.
Via Feeling Good:
“Your blue moods can be compared to the scratchy music coming from a radio that is not properly tuned to the station.
The problem is not that the tubes are blown out or defective, or that the signal from the radio station is distorted as a result of bad weather.
You just simply have to adjust the dials. When you learn to bring about this mental tuning, the music will come through clearly again and your depression will lift.”
Key Take Aways
While it’s a simple concept, it has some pretty profound impact:
- Your thoughts create your feelings. How you think about and interpret what happens to you influences your feelings.
- You get what you focus on. If you focus on the negative side of a situation, your mood will reflect it.
- How you interpret what happens in your life is important. The meaning you assign to events and experiences shapes your thoughts and your mood. There’s something to be said for rose colored glasses.
It’s another reminder that it’s not what’s on your plate, but how you eat it.