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Better Thoughts -> Better Results January 31, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Life Balance, Mindfulness.

TimonOn more than a few occasions, I’ve observed how easily people get carried away and “de-railed” by negative habitual patterns of thinking.

Someone says something they don’t like and off they go ~ characterizing a mild comment as a vicious attack, jumping into the role of victim, choosing to hang on to anger, hurt or sadness for far too long.

If we are not mindful, we fall into the trap of dealing with the world in an habitual way.

Instead of mindfully acting based on specific facts, we re-act based on past experiences.  We see ourselves not as an actor but as someone who is acted upon.  We assume the role of “victim” and relinquish our role as “architect.”

Sometimes, we actually enjoy playing the role of victim.

We cart around our wheelbarrow of woe, and resurrect and recount stale painful memories to ourselves and others, because (1) throwing “pity parties” gets us lots of attention, and (2) we don’t have to accept responsibility for changing a thing.

Moment by moment, we have a choice.  We can choose to reenact and replay the same scenarios over and over, or we can mindfully set them aside and use our time and energy to entertain more productive thoughts.

We can think, “SHE made me mad,” and step into the role of a victim being acted upon while allowing our angry thoughts to spiral out of control.

Or we can think, “I choose not to be angry,” and refuse to relinquish our peace of mind as a result of the intentional and unintentional actions of others.

When we become more aware of our thoughts, we see that we become sad, angry, hurt, and upset by thinking unsettling thoughts.

We realize that if we want to have a more peaceful and balanced life . . . WE must CHOOSE  better thoughts.

We must monitor our thoughts and always be asking, “Will this thought bring me inner peace and contentment?”  If not, we must consciously and mindfully change the channel.

Simple in concept, but challenging in application.  Like any other skill (writing, singing, dancing, playing a musical instrument), if we wish to become proficient, we must practice, practice, practice.

It is in the doing that we become.

Once we recognize that we are not the thoughts we think, we learn to choose the “right” thought for the “right” situation with increasing frequency.

And we start getting better results.

Quote:  Master your thoughts, master your life.

No rules.  Just write!

What about you?  How do you mindfully respond to the situations and challenges you face?

Related posts:  Committing to Drive Yourself (T4D) * OMPM:  Hanging On To Anger * Don’t Bring Me Down * Your Wheelbarrow of Woe * Pollyanna’s Perfect Life * What Do You Think You Deserve? (Healing4Tomorrow) * 10 Ways To Attract Positive Energy * 5 Easy Ways To Make Yourself Miserable * Grateful  (Kate Shrewsday) * Much of the Heaviness (Blue Lotus Cafe) * Deal With It, Princess (Raptitude) *  You Are NOT Your Brain (Always Well Within)


1. kateshrewsday - January 31, 2011

Green Eggs and Ham says it all 🙂 The number of Sam-I-Am campaigns I’ve waged over the years….
I love the Choose Better Thoughts idea 🙂

nrhatch - January 31, 2011

Much of our suffering is of our own making:

The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a Heav’n of Hell, or a Hell of Heav’n. ~ John Milton

kateshrewsday - January 31, 2011


nrhatch - January 31, 2011

From Dr. Seuss to John Milton in a single bound. 🙂

2. Debra - January 31, 2011

oh yes!

taking a step back from ‘instant’ attitude….gives me the distance I need to stop reacting to my conditioning…and then later… meditate on releasing those ‘triggers’ I have made for myself.

Thanks more food for thought…and sitting::)

nrhatch - January 31, 2011

Wonderful comment, Debra.

When we feel a strong emotion arising automatically in response to the words and actions of those around us . . . we do benefit from stepping back and “sitting in silence” to consider how best to respond.

Knee-jerk reactions and habitual responses rarely take us where we want to go.

3. duke1959 - January 31, 2011

People get into this projecting mindset and it never turns out the way they thought it would.

nrhatch - January 31, 2011


Instead of seeing things as “they” are, we just experience ourselves as we are (or as we were) ~ by habitually mischaracterizing what is happening around us.

When we choose to step back and really see what has been offered, we see our part in the creation of our own suffering.

We see that we have CHOSEN the role of victim, or prisoner of our past.

That enables us to make other, better choices and we become, with practice, the architects of our future.

4. Carol Ann Hoel - January 31, 2011

I like people and over the years have trained myself to look in a positive way at others, not imagining that they are looking negatively toward me, and not allowing what others may think about me to matter more than it should. When we get our thinking right, our emotions will follow.

nrhatch - January 31, 2011

So true. Many of the dramas that we perceive in our interactions with others are of our own making, causing us undue stress.

Thanks, Carol Ann

5. Richard W Scott - January 31, 2011

I agree that characterizing a statement or action based upon old baggage can be a real problem, but it is also very natural, and in fact is a process used elsewhere in our lives that helps make getting through the day possible. But then, I’ve written about this often over on UhW.

I understand that you are not talking about the general need we have for making distinctions, but rather the dark side of that process, and how it can so easily take over our day, week, year, or life.

We are certainly a product of our own minds, but our minds are a product of so many other things–our parents, our schooling, the media–mein Gott! The media–and the decisions we make on a daily basis.

If you’ll permit me, I’ll take it one step further. Even the music we choose to listen to–for those who listen to music all day–I used to be one of those, and loved it–can have an enormous effect on how we think, feel and act.

What I’m getting at is this: yes, we can mistake another’s intention and allow it to drive ourselves up the wall, we can allow another’s real intention to do the same.

The trick is to learn how to deal with it.

What I like to do–and it shakes people up a lot–when they ask the perfunctory “How’re you doing?” I answer with “Great! But I’m getting better.” The blink-blink in their eyes is wonderful, and I’ve just used their question (one they didn’t really want an answer to) to be a 10-second seminar, and make my day better.

healing4tomorrow - January 31, 2011

You are so right about the music Richard. The other day I was listening to a sad love song which brought back memories from a relationship that ended negatively over 20 years ago. I was reliving the situation(s) again then I realized it was the song. I had to turn it off and bring myself back to the present moment. This song almost took over my life for a moment.

nrhatch - January 31, 2011

Excellent comment, Rik.

Music can definitely push us in a more positive, or a more negative, direction.

And I love your “Great, but I’m getting better” response. Perfect!

nrhatch - January 31, 2011

Kadian ~ Good for you for remembering to switch the station. 🙂

6. healing4tomorrow - January 31, 2011

Thanks for the ping Nancy. Sometimes I wonder why is it so hard for us to stay positive versus negative, why it is easier to be sad versus happy or why we are so comfortable with listening to bad news versus good news? Like you said, practice, practice, practice so we can break the cycle.

nrhatch - January 31, 2011

In the past, I definitely gravitated to the ONE thing that was not to my liking . . . giving it greater importance than it should have had.

Now, if something threatens to “rock my boat,” I take a step back and return to a more even keel before deciding how (or whether) to respond.

It gets easier and easier once we see our life getting better and better.

7. souldipper - January 31, 2011

Love presentations that remind us that we have the power to CHOOSE! Thanks to Sufi studies, I’ve learned the incredible deftness with which self observation catches my heading toward negativity. I remember it’s a fear. That’s all – some ridiculous, worn out, over-thought fear that has me by the hand.

Warning – treat yourself gently: Pulling the pity pot off too fast can leave a major hickey that takes ugly bloomers to hide it until it goes away! 😀 So do it yourself!

nrhatch - January 31, 2011

I included a link above to the Blue Lotus Cafe’s last post . . . which reminds us to treat ourselves gently as we transition from mindless re-action to more mindful action.

Thanks, Amy!

8. Patricia - January 31, 2011

An important lesson of life–we have choices.

I had to unlearn some thought processes and it was difficult but definitely worth the struggle.

Life is good–even when it is not so much…

nrhatch - January 31, 2011

That’s the key ~ to unlearn the thought processes that are not helping us and learn new thought processes that eliminate much of the self-created drama.

Thanks, Patricia.

9. jannatwrites - January 31, 2011

I agree with the sentiments of your post (and I like Rik’s ‘great but getting better response’.)

We can’t assume anyone’s intent (and it’s even harder to get a feel for it in any communication situation that isn’t face-to-face.)

I try to practice what I keep telling my kids: “You can’t control what other people do, but you can control how you react to it.”

nrhatch - January 31, 2011

Your kids are lucky to have a mom like you!

It is not what happens to us that determines our happiness . . . but how we view what happens to us.

How we relate to the issue IS the issue.

And you are so right about the shortcomings of written communication because it depends upon the voice we hear as we are reading.

If I read something with a calm, pleasant voice, I’ll perceive the author as being calm and pleasant. If I read with a nasty tone of voice, I perceive the author far differently.

Thanks, Janna!

10. Cindy - January 31, 2011

Going all out to be a regular little sunbeam today. *clink*

nrhatch - January 31, 2011

Excellent! Me too.

My mood has been especially good lately ~ maybe it’s all the delicious desserts we’ve been consuming. 🙂

11. suzicate - February 1, 2011

Most of us have had many things in life happen to us that we could choose to allow ourselves to act like victims or we can choose to rise above and be victors. BTW,Green Eggs and Ham has always been my favorite!

nrhatch - February 1, 2011

So true, Suzi. It’s a choice we make each and every day.

BTW: I’ve only acted in one play . . . as the Grouch in Green Eggs & Ham! 🙂

I do not like them, Sam-I-am
I don not like Green Eggs & Ham

The joke around the office at the time was whether I could squash my smile and squelch my laughter long enough to be a convincing Grouch.

12. andalibmarks - February 2, 2011

I agree. We can choose how to react by taking a deep breath firstly so that we don’t go all ‘fire and rage’ and also so that we can take a second to reflect on what it is exactly that has gotten us so upset.

It’s the same with sadness and pain really. The songs we listen to can bring back memories, sometimes painful, sometimes happy – it’s how we choose to listen and react to them that dictates how we will feel in a couple of minutes time.


nrhatch - February 2, 2011

The first time, I ever “stepped back,” the results amazed.

Someone came to my office, irate ~ saying all sorts of unflattering things about me.

I just listened.

I did not rush to defend my reputation. I heard exactly what she was saying because I wasn’t trying to plan a defense (or an offense).

I let her go until she wound down.

And then I said, “From your perspective, I can see why you would say that.”

She opened her mouth to start arguing with me, and realized that there was nothing to argue about. Then we talked. And became, if not friends, at least friendlier.

13. ElizOF - February 24, 2011

So true… It is best to move on and focus on what matters most; that is what I do. Tempus fujit and we have a lot to accomplish before we are called home so I keep on trucking … forward. 🙂
Thanks for joining the blog hop!

nrhatch - February 24, 2011

The more we consciously focus on OUR priorities, the less sway others have over how we expend our limited time and energy.

My time, my energy . . . my rules.

Thanks, Eliz

14. jeanne - February 24, 2011

Sometimes doing nothing is the best thing to do. Learning to step back from the situation, breathe, assess and then choose to NOT react will be the hardest thing you will ever do.

nrhatch - February 24, 2011

Thanks, Jeanne. Sometimes doing nothing is the best option.

Other times, it may be our only option. So much of life is out of our hands.

Not reacting is difficult, we must remind ourselves to keep breathing.

15. tbaoo - February 25, 2011

i’m in the middle of some training, i’ve learn’t the evils of “should”, “i can’t” and the perils of not being good looking 😉

nrhatch - February 25, 2011

Here’s one of my favorite reminders to avoid “should” and “can’t” . . .

Listen to the mustn’ts child. Listen to the don’ts.
Listen to the shouldn’t haves, the impossibles, the won’ts.
Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me.
Anything can happen child. Anything can be.
~ Shel Silverstein

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