thoughts

Like It Or Not, You are the Average of the 5 Thoughts You Spend the Most Time With

You are the average.jpg

There’s a famous saying, “You are the average of the five thoughts you spend the most time with.”

Wait, something doesn’t sound right about that. And yet, something sounds totally right about that.

The famous saying by the late Jim Rohn was actually, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” What he meant by that is that when it comes to relationships, we are greatly influenced — whether we like it or not — by those closest to us. The people we spend the most time with affect our way of thinking, our self-esteem, and our decisions. Sure, we like to think we are our own independent snowflake, but research has shown that we’re more affected by our environment than we think.

I think the same can be said for your emotions and thoughts. I think if you were to reflect on your main thoughts you would see that they shape you more than you think.

Check it out and see for yourself. What are the thoughts you have most often?

Are you having a hard time remembering specifics? It’s really not much of a surprise if you are because scientists estimate we have anywhere from 12,000–60,000 thoughts per day!

If it’s hard to figure out one of those 60,000 thoughts per day off the top of your head, you can work backward from what feelings you recall having most often. We’re often more aware of how we feel then the actual thoughts that are causing the feelings. So think of the five feelings you usually have most throughout a typical day. Gratitude? Resentment? Pressure? Joy? Uncertainty? Irritation? Anger? Impatience? Creative? Stress?

Good. Once you identify the feelings you have most often you can backtrack to what types of thoughts might be causing them. You don’t even have to necessarily identify your exact thoughts, a ballpark grouping fits the bill here.

Use the feelings you just identified to recognize the thought “ballparks” you find yourself in most often? Negative thoughts, positive thoughts, worrisome, hopeful, realistic, unrealistic, anxious, assured thoughts?

It’s estimated that a ridiculously high percentage of the thoughts we have each day are repeats.

That’s right, most of our thoughts are recycled over and over each day.

If you are spending most of your day repeating negative thoughts, then it really doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that you’re going to trend toward the negative. If you spend most of your day repeating worrisome thoughts about this, that and the other thing then well, you can see how that will end up playing out. Likewise if you spend most of your day repeating thoughts along the lines of hopeful or positive thoughts, you’re going to trend in the opposite direction.

If you want to make changes in your life, start by tackling the thoughts you spend the most time with. If you find your thoughts aren’t ones that will help you, you need to start thinking different thoughts. It actually is that simple.

Simple but not easy! I know, that’s an annoying saying…but it is true in this case. When you find yourself thinking or feeling a way you don’t like insert a different thought. Literally any other thought (assuming it is not similar to the one you want to get rid of) will do.

Often the hard part is being aware of your thoughts in the moment, which happens to be the ideal time to insert new ones. But the good news is that choosing new thoughts/feelings whenever you remember to think of them will start to produce positive results over time!

Give it a try, I’d love to hear how it goes for you.

Mindfulness When Your Life Stinks Part 2: Your Thoughts Aren’t Even Real

Thoughts and Beliefs

It’s funny that I’m actually writing this post because I can so vividly remember resisting this idea. My thoughts that I automatically and often subconsciously judge as good or bad aren’t even real. What thuh? I recall thinking, “If I can’t count on my thoughts being real, which btw have gotten me quite far in life, then where do I go from there? What can I even trust anymore?”

Oh, how young and naive I used to be.

I shouldn’t pretend it was so long ago! This is an incredibly complex notion to wrap one’s mind around. I routinely need to circle back to terra firma on this even though I understand it and it has my full buy in.

The notion that my thoughts weren’t real was a total bummer for me. Generally speaking, I had always really liked my thoughts. Most were funny, insightful, inquisitive, and clever, if I do say so myself. And they were a big part of my self-esteem. If you could see me now, you’d see my eyes wistfully staring off into the distance.

Oh, there were the negative ones too, but they served an important purpose. They let me know where I was falling short and, by gawd, needed me to know it. The notion that those thoughts weren’t real either just made me mad. I mean, where’s the power in beating oneself up, if it’s on false grounds? 

I couldn’t believe that the good ones weren’t real. And I needed the bad ones to be real in order for me to, well, feel bad about myself. Or to motivate me to change things or whatever bad thoughts are supposed to do.

I wish I remembered the exact thing I read or the specific thing someone said that provided my aha moment around this. But I can’t. You know when you hear something over and over and one day it so naturally clicks that it seemed like it was there all along? I think that’s what happened.

Who knows, maybe reading this will be the one that pushes you over that proverbial edge too!

Here goes.

The thoughts in our heads that narrate our lives need a serious reappraisal.

We get so worked up by them! We get so comforted by them! We get so hooked by them and think they are real. But they aren’t real. I mean, they are real in that they exist inside our heads, but they aren’t real in that they aren’t facts.

I mean, unless of course, you’re thinking of a fact. But let’s be honest, most of the time we are not thinking of facts.

Most of the time we are repeating the same subjective thoughts and beliefs over and over in our minds. The ones we constructed through a complex combination of nature, nurture, and our experiences. This combination creates a filter through which we take in all information and through which we form all our thoughts. We can’t help it.

And yet, most people never question that their thoughts aren’t real because it seems a) unnecessary b) inefficient c) weird and d) stupid. So they stay tightly bound to the ups and downs of their thoughts which lead to an emotional roller coaster of feelings.

There’s another way. And that is to acknowledge our thoughts aren’t real and get off the roller coaster.

So, if you want to go for it here are 6 things to try:

  1. Notice your resistance to the notion that your thoughts aren’t real.

  2. Frame this as an experiment. What happens when you have a thought and you tell yourself that it is just one possibility of that which exists.

  3. What happens when you try on different filters for the fun of it? How does that thought change?

  4. Allow the different filters to loosen your cognitive grip on the comfortable notion that your original thought was a real, meaning a fact.

  5. See how your emotions change with the different filters.

  6. Recognize that since you can choose your filter and your thoughts why not choose either neutral or good ones?