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Something different…?

It’s Monday. Many of us will be approaching the coming week with trepidation. After a relaxing weekend (but not relaxing enough), we embark on the unknown of the coming week with a mixture of watered-down enthusiasm and sluggish motivation. We’ll expend a lot of energy just doing the necessary; getting up, getting to work, getting on with it…

All in all it might seem like a bit of an effort.

And so it is, but if you manage to overcome the tide-like drag of sluggish thinking you can take control of your life in a new way, so why not start today?

This Monday, instead of just allowing your thinking to happen to you, make the conscious decision to choose what you think and how you plan your day and your week. This is one of the things that people with successful and fulfilling lives do; they make choices about how they act and who with. But in order to do that they choose how they think and what they think about. It takes a little planning and some self-discipline, but it’s worth it.

One of the keys is to understand what gives you enjoyment in your work. Resilient and successful people manage to find something useful in even the least enjoyable of tasks. Instead of moaning about it or thinking that happiness lies somewhere else they know that happiness is here and now for, as Shakespeare said “Nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so”.
Choosing how we think about ourselves and our lives is more helpful than waiting for life to happen to us then complaining that we got a raw deal.
All it takes is some purposeful thinking and a little persistence. Here’s how:

Start by thinking ahead. Imagine that it is Monday evening and that you have had a really good day. Ask yourself…

  • What made the day feel special for you?
  • Who have you helped and how?
  • What activities did you do with the greatest confidence?
  • What did you do during the day that gave you a buzz, made you feel good?
  • What did you do that made you feel proud?
  • How can you do more of that in future?
  • What have you done to ensure that from here on things can only get better?

This may seem difficult at first but stick with it. Don’t worry too much about ‘getting it right’, or coming up with wonderful answers, ignore any cynical or negative ones and just return to the questions. The secret is in the doing of it, and it gets better with practice.
As you start to re-train your habits of thinking you’ll find that it gets easier and that you come up with more useful answers. Over time you’ll notice some changes in how you think and feel, look out for them. And by the way, as things start to improve, keep at it. New habits must be nurtured if they are to become part of a way of life.

Or more of the same…

Of course, it might seem like too much of an effort, in which case here’s something easier:

Take a few minutes to identify three things you could worry about. I’ve prepared a list in case you don’t have time to think of for yourself:

  • The state of the economy
  • How safe is your job?
  • Your health
  • Whether or not your partner really loves you, or…
  • The fact that you don’t have a partner
  • (you can condense both the above into ‘I’m not loveable’)
  • Poverty in the third world
  • The cost of petrol/child care/energy.

The key here is to pick topics that are beyond your control, that you cannot affect, thus adding a sense of powerlessness to the general, debilitating worry. Start to ruminate about your chosen topic as early as possible after waking. This takes no real effort and can become completely incapacitating before long.

Because it is always easier to do more of the same than to do something new, this way of thinking is less challenging than the kind which brings happiness and fulfillment. That is why so many people prefer it.

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