Happy Mind, Happy Life


Throughout our lives, we have been told by many to "think positively" and to view the glass as "half full". Many fields of study have discussed the benefits of positive thinking and the importance of lessening obsessive negative and worrisome thoughts. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, a modality of Psychology, suggests that how we think affects how we feel. For example, depressing thoughts will eventually lead to a depressed mood. Positive thinking, the "glass is half full" view, has been shown to decrease stress levels, improve health, and bring positive changes to one's lifestyle. A positive mind expects joy, happiness, and a successful outcome, while negative biases in thinking expect the worst and cause us to behave in ways that eventually lead to those expected negative outcomes.

The laws of attraction suggest that " You reap what you sow". In other words, we attract to our lives whatever we think about most. This principle argues that whatever you put out into the universe, will reflect back to you. If we have a general positive attitude, anticipating pleasure and success, we tend to attract, and create situations that comply with our positive views and expectations.

Texts on Hypnotherapy consist of the "Fundamental Truths of the Mind". These truths include, "Everything in the physical world was first created as a thought", and "In order for anything to happen physically, it must first happen within the subconscious mind". These "fundamental truths" suggest that what we think about, and what we create in our minds, become physical realities in our lives. Studies on Hypnotherapy suggest that the subconscious mind takes everything one says literally, and magnetically attracts the subject matter to the individual. In addition, the subconscious mind does not understand negatives. For example, if one says, " I do not want to be poor, I am afraid I will be poor", the subconscious mind does not hear the "not", and only takes in the word "poor". The subconscious works to make our thoughts, a reality. In this example, the subconscious mind attracts poverty and loss to the individual. Hypnotherapy would suggest phrases and thoughts such as " I am going to be rich!" As opposed to " I don't want to be poor".

Positive psychology, a more recent branch of psychology, lists 5 steps to happiness. One of these steps, "changing your thinking", echoes Cognitive Behavioral therapy techniques that stress the direct impact our thinking and often cognitive distortions have on our mood. These thoughts become our habits of thinking, or knee jerk reactions of thought processes, and therefor establish a certain mood or temperament we hold onto for most of our lives. We assume that success will bring us happiness, but Positive Psychology suggests the opposite: happiness will bring us success. Psychology describes the purpose of negative thoughts and emotions; whether it be to warn us or protect us from impending danger. Negative thoughts and emotions often lead us to narrowed options, such as fight or flight for example. Positive thoughts and emotions broaden our horizons, allow us to recognize our various options, and make well thought out decisions accordingly.

Once we recognize the necessity for positive thinking, we are left with the question "How do I control my thinking?". Negative thoughts come in and out of our minds regularly, so how do we deflect them and focus on positive thoughts and narratives? Studies suggest that meditation can greatly impact how we think, and what we think about. Breathing exercises calm our nervous system, relax the body, and help us see and think about things more clearly- allowing us to make better life choices and decisions. Moreover, meditation techniques, for example, an activity as simple as focusing on a point on the wall, helps us practice focusing our attention where we want it to be. When we focus on a point, or solely pay attention to our inhale and exhale as we breathe, we are practicing the muscle of controlling where our thoughts go. For the few minutes that we do these activities, we are controlling the focus of our attention. The more we practice meditation, the more we are more efficiently able to control the focus of our attention in our daily lives. We then begin to choose what thoughts we are going to have, what we want to focus on, and quickly deflect the negative thoughts we do not want to pay attention to. Daily meditation practices can lead to healthier cognitive thought processes and subsequently a more positive and healthier mood.