Our thoughts are full of negative comments. If we wrote down every negative word that took up residence in our thoughts, they would probably fill an entire book. And most of the time, we let them sit there and fester, creating more and more negativity until we are down in the dumps, curled on the couch with frown on our face, wanting to hide from the world.
Some people will tell you to take actions in your life to change what you hate. Hate your job, get a new one? Someone who hates their life may leave their spouse in search of the grass being greener on the other side.
But I say it’s not always our life that we have to change as such. We could have the greatest life, yet still be down in the dumps. Because it’s not really our life that has us depressed. It’s the way we allow ourselves to think. That is why when someone attempts to make physical changes in their life, they may be happy for a bit, but it won’t last. The negative thoughts will come back as strong as ever, and they can’t figure out what the heck is happening and why they aren’t content. So the cycle begins again as they seek to find the one thing that can make them happy. But it won’t work.
To change our life, the first thing we have to change is our mindset…our thought patterns. We have to stop saying things like, “I hate my life” Or “If only I had this, then I’d be happy.” We need to filter out the negative words before they ingrain themselves in our mind.
And while we can’t necessarily control what we think, we can control whether we accept it. We can be mindful of when negativity pops into our head and counter it with better words, positive words. We can retrain our brain to accept better information.
Shouldn’t this year be the year we do that? The year to stop letting negative thoughts overcrowd our minds. What if when you hear that first negative word, you say “Stop, not today! Today, I’m gonna love my life. I’m gonna live, and I’m gonna breathe. I’m gonna look for something amazing in today.”
When you can start to train your mind to see the beautiful things, the positive things, then they become your focus and while life may not perfect, you’ll start to see amazing things at the perfect time. And contentment will follow. But it all starts inside you.
Your emotions will mirror the way you allow yourself to think. I chose this year to be the year of less negative thinking. What about you?
One of the most interesting things I’ve come across when it comes to someone’s passion is that whatever it is transports them to another world. When I stepped onto the ice—my sport of passion was ice hockey— it felt like I entered a whole other world. I was no longer me. I dawned a helmet and gear, like a gladiator, unafraid at the prospect of falling or being hit by another player. I became a whole other person, or maybe I become the part of me that was hidden deep down.
Passions are something that engulf our entire spirit, consumes our person. They make life worth living every day. They make your career come alive. Jobs are great in the sense that they allow you to have a roof over your head and food in your bellies, but they don’t feed you the desires of your heart unless you are following after what you are most passionate about.
Sometimes we spend ages trying to figure out what we want to do with our life, but usually one certain passion hits you when you are young. Me, I’ve always enjoyed writing ever since I was little. I’m not by any means popular, but I like following the ideas in my head and making them a reality on paper. My son, ever since he was little, had a passion for diseases. He used to go school and scare the teachers with his knowledge about them, and they’d be calling us, worried about him. My daughter loves science. My other son loves cooking and the idea of being a chef. He’s starting his first ever college course on becoming a chef today.
Do you know your passion? Can you think back to when you were younger and recall what it was that you enjoyed most? Are you doing that today or are you just going through the daily motions of a job you hate because you don’t think you have a choice?
Life is far too short to not live your dreams. Sometimes we think that we’re too old to go after something new. I turned 43 years old last year, having survived my fifth car accident and Covid, so I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on who I am, and what I want to do with the rest of my life. I don’t have a fancy house or a fancy car. I am not worth millions of dollars, but there is one thing I do have and that I’m following after, my passion for the written word while doing security.
When we have a negative mindset, our determination and stubbornness can become a problem. We become too stubborn about the wrong things. I’m ugly. I’m stupid. I’m worthless. I’m fat. I’m too skinny. I’m too flat chested. I have too much acne. Who’s going to love me? I can’t read, so what can I do? I can’t see. I can’t walk. Or any number of things that are sometimes drilled into our psyche by others and by our own mind.
What we accomplish or don’t accomplish in life is based on the mindset we have. Whether we can be happy or whether we’re just plain miserable is based on what we allow ourselves to dwell on. If we keep telling ourselves that nothing ever goes right. This sucks. I hate my life. Then that is what we are training our brain to think and to perceive. They call this neuroplasticity. It’s our brain’s ability to re-wire itself. This is something I learned a lot about while fighting with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder).
When I was at my worst, I had what you could call a can’t mindset. People would tell me to just stop doing my compulsions, and I would say, “That’s easy for you to say. I can’t do it. I can’t just stop.”
“Why?” they’d ask.
And that right there was a very good question. Why couldn’t I stop? It’s because that’s what I taught my brain. Now, I’m not a doctor—nowhere close to being a doctor—I just have my own experiences which has taught me things along the way. I’d done my compulsions so much that I’d developed a habit, an addiction of sorts. If I didn’t do them, I have such a feeling of dread that it would drop me to the floor in tears.
Can’t is a very powerful word, very destructive. And likewise, the opposite is also true—I can is equally powerful. Don’t tell yourself you’ll try, tell yourself you will. The words, I’ll try can set you up for failure, set you up for the idea that you might not do it. Instead, we need to be speaking positively to ourselves, not just for our mind’s sake, but for those around who hear us, who witness our journey…especially kids, who soak everything up like sponges.
How many more successful kids would there be if they saw us going after our dreams…if we were telling them that their dreams had value, that their dreams are important. Your dreams are important, too, and no one should be able to tell you otherwise. Biggest thing to remember is that what you allow your mindset to be is what you’ll become, whether good or bad. You tell yourself you can’t, you won’t. You tell yourself you can, and you will.
“But what if I fail?” you ask.
Did you know that believing you failed is a mindset of its own? What is failure? How do you define failure? Do you remember how I mentioned Thomas Edison earlier? A reporter once asked him about how it felt to fail 1000 times. He said, “I didn’t fail 1000 times. The light bulb was an invention that took 1,000 steps.”
Sometimes you won’t succeed right away. Nobody does, but it’s those who stay persistent that eventually get to where they want to go. You never truly fail until you give up, and even then, what’s to say that somewhere down the line, you don’t finally succeed? I put my writing aside for a decade, but I still came back and accomplished what I set out to do.
You are never too old or too young to start living your dream, setting yourself on the path to fulfilling it. If Akiane Kramarik, Hanalei Swan, Caroline Bercaw, Isabel Bercaw, and Alina Morse can believe in themselves and go after their dreams, why should we be any different?
As adults we sometimes forget how to dream, how to believe. I think this is where kids have a leg up on us. We become more logical minded and less fanciful, and in this I believe we are doing our kids a great injustice. They need to see us going after our dreams if they are to go after theirs.
And if they have a dream, they have to know that we believe in them. Their dreams are not stupid or unrealistic, that’s our own mindset that we are putting on them. They don’t deserve that. They deserve to know they can follow their passion. I know not all of us are rich. Some of us can’t put our kids in city sports(too expensive). We can’t buy our kids the moon as some may be able to, but we can help them reach for it by encouraging them. Believing in them. Letting them know that their dreams have value. That they have value.
As a mom of teenagers, I watch mine struggle through various issues, and I try to be there for them. They’ve seen me struggle with certain things myself, but I make a point of standing right back up and trying again. My goal is to teach them that they can do whatever they set their mind to, nothing has to stop them. One day at a time, one step at a time is how we get to where we want to go.
Life really is what you make it. We have to get rid of that negative mindset because life doesn’t stop for it. We keep aging, so we have to make a choice as to what that is going to look like for us. All I know is that I don’t want to lay on my death bed wishing I took the chance on my dreams.
You are never too old or too young to follow a dream. As long as you have breath, your dreams are waiting for you. So why don’t you decide today to go after them! Let today be a fresh start. I believe in you! The only thing left is for you to believe in yourself. If you find the strength to take that first step, please let me know. I’d love to hear from you.