You Are What You Think

April 13th, 2008 by Steve

Have you ever taken time to think about the simple sayings we hear throughout our lives? One of my favorite is “You are what you eat.” I am sure we have all heard that saying several times, but let us take two minutes and think about it. Your physical body is built, literally, from the food you ingest. The better building blocks (food) you give your body, the stronger it will be. Conversely, the weaker the building blocks you give your body, the weaker it will become. Most of us understand this and accept it as truth, even though many of us don’t heed its simple advice.

If what you eat becomes your physical self, then what becomes your mental or spiritual self? If you are what you eat then you are also what you think or feel. Spiritually, our food is thought and the feelings behind those thoughts. If you are what you think, then what are you thinking about?

I found when I ask this question most people say “I’m generally a very happy person” and “I don’t know why I’m having such a hard time.” In my experience, truly happy people do not have hard lives. It is the people who think they are happy but are really spending the predominance of their time with thoughts of negativity or fear in their head that have hard times. It is time to ask ourselves what thoughts are rattling around our heads throughout our day.

Before we figure out what we are thinking about, let us break down the concept of thought. Thoughts themselves are benign. The feelings associated with those thoughts give them power for good or bad. An example of this from my personal experience is seeing families out at a restaurant. In my younger years, when marriage and family were distant goals, the children seemed loud and annoying while their parents appeared to manage them poorly. Back then, the thought of children brought up feelings of annoyance and frustration. Today my wife and I are ready to start a family. The thought of children now generates feelings of tenderness, compassion and love. So the thought has not changed, but the feeling associated with it has. As we develop and grow spiritually, I find many of our negative feelings transform to positive ones. We learn to see the beauty in everything. Those same children today bring a smile to my face rather than a scowl.

We are what we think and what we think has power based on what we feel. Like most everything else in nature, feelings are bi-polar: positive or negative; good or bad; love or fear. It stands to reason that if you feel negative or ‘fear’ you live a harder life. If, on the other hand, you feel positive or ‘love’ you live the good or easier life.

Do you know if you are truly a happy person? Let us find out. This week I want you to keep a thought inventory. This will not be as easy as you think because I want you to be precise about it. I read that the human brain has between 50,000 and 60,000 thoughts per day, roughly 2,500 thoughts per hour, 42 per minute or a thought ever 1.5 seconds. That’s a lot of thoughts to keep track of. Realistically we can keep track of 2-3 thoughts per minute. At first you think, there is no way I have a new thought every 1.5 seconds but once you start to actually keep track of what you are thinking you will be shocked at how many thoughts you have.

This week while you are at work or home during your normal day, I want you to keep a notebook next to you and write down your thoughts as you have them. Keep the description simple, one thought per notebook line and in the margin mark it as positive or negative. If you are doing this right, you will start to fill page after page of the notebook.

I do not expect that you will keep track of every thought. Even tracking 2 to 3 thoughts per minute will leave you nothing to do but write down your thoughts. I am setting a goal of tracking 100 thoughts per day or three pages of a typical spiral notebook (most standard rule spiral notebooks have 33 lines per page). Remember a simple description, one thought per line with a positive or negative mark.

Be objective about this. You want an honest assessment of what is occupying your mind so don’t say “that wasn’t such a bad thought” and try to seem more positive just to make yourself feel better. Everyone who first does this will be amazed at the predominance of negative thoughts in their day.

At the end of the day you have your 100 thoughts in the notebook with a tally of negative or positive. Add up the positive and add up the negative and see how you faired. If you are like most of us, you’ll see the negative column is the winner hands down. When I first did this exercise, I was at a 4: 1 ratio of bad to good thoughts. I realized that I was spending 80% of my time thinking negative thoughts.

Let me also clarify that a negative thought isn’t always something obvious, like “I’m going to die” but it does encompass any doubt, fear or negativity. Did someone on the phone annoy you? Well, that’s a bad thought. Did you think “what a pain in the butt?” There is another bad thought. Did you have to get something done but told yourself this is too hard to do, will take too long or simply cannot be done? All bad thoughts. If you think the words can’t, won’t, mad, sad, angry, dumb, stupid, hard, difficult, etc., then you know it is a bad thought. Thoughts that come from lack like “I wish I had more money” are also bad thoughts. You will be able to label them as good or bad because you will know how they make you feel. When you read what you wrote on the paper if you feel bad, mark it as negative if you feel great mark it as positive.

What good is it knowing how much time you are spending on negative thoughts? Simply, you can change it and spend it on positive thoughts. Once you have done this for a week, it becomes automatic. You are now aware of negative thoughts as they pop into your head and you consciously work on changing them. Soon enough that 4: 1 ratio turned around for me. After a few months of work I was thinking less and less negative thoughts, less fear plagued my mind and I opened up amazing opportunities.

When a new business opportunity came to me, my normal mind would pop up all the obstacles (all negative thoughts). Now it sees all the opportunities (positive thoughts). When I first met new people, I would see all their faults (negative). Today, I see all their good traits (positive). It is an easy thing to tell people to think positively but it actually takes a lot of work.

The hard work pays off in the end. With a predominance of positive thoughts and feelings, the power of your Intention will increase exponentially and the Law of Attraction will bring you your goals in a shorter amount of time.

Practical Tools:

  1. Keep a thought inventory over a week’s time. Track 100 thoughts throughout each day for 7 days straight. Try to set blocks of time to do this say 2 hours a day, preferably when you are working or in the middle of your typical day. Write down each thought on a separate line of a notebook and in the margin flag it as positive or negative.
  2. At the end of the day tally the negative and positive thoughts and see how you did.
  3. After the week is over see if you are more aware of your thoughts. Do you catch negative thoughts consciously as they pop up?
  4. As you catch these thoughts work on turning them around. If someone annoys you say to yourself they must be in a negative space if they are acting this way. If something seems difficult or scary say you love the challenge it will present. You get the idea. Work on catching and turning the negative to positive.
  5. Go back in two months and redo the exercise. You’ll be amazed at how much better your results are.
  6. Keep up the good work. Negativity is always lurking somewhere so always stay conscious of your thoughts and keep that positive state of mind.

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