The formula to create a happy, full and amazingly long life includes exercise, clean eating, helpful thinking and motivation! That sounds reasonable BUT….
What is helpful thinking?
Before I can answer that please take a minute to think about the answers to the big and important questions below. Yes, I am very aware that it can sometimes take a lifetime to finally arrive at answers to these huge questions but you can at least get a sense of the answers and you surely know what isn’t true for you now. Yes?
So, what is important to you?
What are you hoping to make of your life?
What are your values?
What is your life purpose?
How do you want to be remembered?
Now we can better talk about what kind of thinking isn’t helpful. That is, any kind of thinking that:
- Is negative.
- Takes you away from your values, your purpose, and your ideal self.
Doesn’t thinking need to be “right or true”?
There is obviously a place for good analytical and critical thinking. Still, we know that even super intelligence does not guarantee the one “right” answer. There are very intelligent people on all sides of every political, religious and economic issue. Each can give you detailed explanations for why they are 100% right and the other perspective is dead wrong. So, is there only one “right” answer? Is there only one “truth”? No, it’s just not that simple. Of course we will all continue to promote our views about worldly things and that’s good.
But sadly, when dealing with the most personal of issues, some people use all their energy debating with themselves about whether something is “true” or not instead of taking action on what is obviously helpful.
While dealing with the most personal questions, what if the “right or true” answer took you away from your values, your purpose and your sense of integrity?
Remember, it’s not that hard to argue both sides of issues. Instead, let’s choose the most helpful options available to us! Let’s put “right or true” in a back seat while we embrace the most helpful thinking available on our way to our optimal human experience. Why? Because we can!
Here are some examples of helpful and unhelpful thinking.
Let’s say you’ve struggled with your weight for a long time.
- Helpful thinking = I have value exactly the way I am. As I learn how to maintain my ideal health, I get closer and closer to my best weight. I love feeling myself getting stronger and healthier every day. If I don’t feel strong or healthy at any point, I’ll just ACT AS IF I do until I am stronger and healthier.
- Unhelpful thinking = I’ve always been this way and no matter what I try, I can’t control my weight. I might do ok for a while but I always go back to my old ways.
Let’s say you have been sedentary most of your life.
- Helpful thinking = With each small change I make, I prove to myself that I am capable of making even bigger changes. I feel more alive when I am moving and using my body. On days when I don’t feel like exercising, I’ll look for new ways to motivate myself and tell myself that brief rest periods are good. When I feel like going back to my old ways, I will ACT AS IF exercise is part of who I am until it is.
- Unhelpful thinking = I am lazy and can’t do the things that other people can do. I am embarrassed to go to the gym. I don’t feel like I can handle all that they tell me I should be doing.
As you start your fitness journey and any time along the way, take the time to monitor your thinking.
Write down your thoughts about the big questions above. Write down what you notice running through your mind that might be interfering with your fitness goals. Are those thoughts helping you move toward your ideal self? If the answer is no, tell yourself that you will look for specific methods and / or techniques to move your thinking from unhelpful to HELPFUL!!
Use this test to judge the quality of your thoughts!
Is this way of thinking helpful?
Do these thoughts move me forward towards my ideal healthy self?