We go at it day after day. The routine is tiresome, at worst, it is exhausting, even debilitating. In our daily haze, we become numb to life: we stop feeling the world the way we should. Our emotional intimacy with the people and experiences around us dulls down and with it, our joy. We become less aware, less conscious of our intentions, thoughts, and actions. Inevitably, it happens to us all. Frustration and impatience take the place of mindfulness, and this is the point at which we have to stop, remind ourselves of our purpose, and re-strategize.Here are the key question that can help reshape your life.
What thoughts do you keep thinking? Ever notice that the more you think about something, the harder it becomes to get your mind off of it? That’s because the neurons in your brain form clusters around your thoughts. You’ll continue to think the thoughts you’re used to thinking because there’s increasing traffic on those neural pathways. Like every other part of your being, your brain acts on habit and becomes programmed to operate in a certain way. And like a broken record, the thoughts usually repeat the same form and produce the same results. This can be detrimental to your wellbeing if you’re embedded in thoughts of fear, hatred, vindictiveness, or despair. When you think about something, do you think about it with any of these emotions? Are you constantly worried that something will go wrong? If fear is the first element that’s sparked in your brain, you will act on that fear and hesitate, unable to make sound, firm decisions. Desperation will lead you to make the wrong decisions entirely. It’s imperative that you sort through your thoughts and take control over what you keep thinking. Contrary to what many believe, you can change your thoughts! You can shift their course as they’re forming simply by paying attention: when you catch that recurring, destructive thought popping up again, force it out of your mind. Visualize a different circumstance or scenario, one that’s more in your favor. In time, the neurons will link around the more positive thoughts you’ve taught yourself. Remind yourself: The things that I’m afraid of haven’t happened and they don’t need to happen.
To whom are you listening? Are you obeying the voices of other people, or are you heeding the voice of your intuition? If your relationship with yourself is strong enough, you won’t have to rely on the often misleading opinions of others. You’ll think twice before you follow what everyone else is saying and doing. Your best guidance will radiate from within. Realize who and what is influencing your decisions. Also ask yourself if some of the things you’re doing are for others or for yourself. Do they meet your ultimate good, or are you settling and sacrificing time after time? Finding your authentic self is nothing short of miraculous: it is a birth of your own truth. When in doubt, introspect: Are my choices satisfactory to me or to someone else? What do I honestly want to do?
What is your first reaction? What is your first reaction to an unpleasant situation? Do you immediately want to run away or immediately want to resolve the problem? Your initial reaction indicates your dominating emotion: anger, anxiety, irritation, etc. Ultimately, you want your primary response to be understanding, acceptance, and faith. Understand the greater reason, no matter how bad the situation seems. Accept the outcome as a catalyst for your personal growth. Have faith that regardless of what has happened, you will come out of it better than before. This allows you to skip the negative, confusing, and stultifying emotions and reach a resolution to whatever problem may be at hand. Take nothing personally if someone’s done something bad to you. Remember that people are dealing with their own issues that you know nothing about. Acknowledge that throughout life you’ll feel disappointed just as often as you’ll feel pleased. There is nothing that can’t be resolved through this simple sort of logic.
How do you regard others? What is your attitude towards others as you weave through the world from day to day? Do you feel a general sense of disappointment in humanity, or do you still believe in the goodness of others? Do you avoid making eye contact whenever possible or strike up a conversation with a stranger? The way you regard others speaks volumes about what’s brewing inside of you. If you’ve shut yourself in, it’s time to gently open up again. The problem is that it only takes one person to ruin your trust in everyone else. People will continue to draw out of the same old habits you’ve worked very hard to erase. They will try to open wounds you’ve diligently healed. But that shouldn’t halt your progress: you must evolve for your own sake, not for anyone else’s. If you’ve lost your sense of confidence in others, understand that there are still many kind-hearted, likeminded folks out there just like you. Cynicism will only lead more untrustworthy people to you. But the more that you continue being a good, genuine person, the more you will be able to forgive those who have wronged you and find the right sort of company.
The only two things you need to reshape your life are desire and awareness. Let the answers to these four questions be your motivation towards greater mindfulness, strength, and joy.