How To Transform Your Negative Thoughts
Developing Your Critical Thinking Skills
MINDFULNESS ON SOUNDS
This is a 5-minute exercise to be done twice a day, possibly in the morning as soon as you wake up and in the evening before going to sleep. When we are trying to settle the mind, we realise that we can’t stop thinking, then we lose mindfulness and go into distraction. In order not to get involved with thoughts, the mind needs to be anchored somewhere and that “place” could be the breathing, the body or sounds. Over the last two weeks we have used the body and the breathing as a support. This week we are going to use sound. So, during this exercise just open up to whatever sounds are around you, maybe you can hear children playing, dogs barking, lawn mowers humming, the wind in the trees or perhaps just your own breathing. The exercise is just about listening in a relaxed and open manner. It is important to do this exercise without any judgement, the purpose is to notice when your mind wanders and bring it back to the sound. All you need to do is following the instructions in the audio below.
BREATHING REMINDER and GRATITUDE PRACTICE
The human tendency to want to be better or to have something different can be a great source of unhappiness. Cultivating a sense of gratitude can help us to be more satisfied by what we have and who we are. This is the purpose of this week's exercise.
When you use your phone's alarm to bring your awareness back to your breathing, in addition think of the first thing that comes into your mind for which you are grateful. It could be the feeling of hot water when taking a shower, a child's smile, a chat with a client. There are many little things that we can learn to notice and appreciate.
Remember that practising gratitude can lead to greater sensitivity to the experience of gratitude in the future.
Use your phone alarm to remind you to focus your attention on your breathing. This exercise will take no more than 30 seconds.
Set your phone with 4 random alarms over the day. Each time you hear the alarm, focus your attention on the movement of your body as you breathe, just for one in-breath and one out-breath, and at the same time think about something for which you are grateful. Maybe you can find something looking around you and if nothing comes to your mind it’s ok, just notice that, without any judgement.
TAKING A MINDFUL MOMENT
This week, you are encouraged to do this exercise at least once. Your Mindful Moment will be watching
something mindfully. The duration of the exercise can range from 10 seconds to 5 minutes. This is one of the most powerful exercises you can do during the day. It will enable you to pay more attention to your environment and at the same time to appreciate what you are watching. By practising mindful watching you can start to deeply connect with what is around you and find a different way to relax your mind.
Choose something around you that inspires you to look at it for a few minutes. It is best if it is something from nature; it could be a tree, or a flower, or even a rain drop. But you can also do this exercise in your office, during a short break. How many colours can you notice around you? What about shapes? If you're looking at your desk, just choose one object and use it as an anchor. Don’t do anything and when thoughts arise just refocus on the object that you are looking at. Simply settle your mind into watching. Observe it as if you were seeing it for the first time. Allow yourself to be embraced by its shape, its colours, its smell.
Very important: I suggest that you schedule this exercise the day before you do it.
MINDFULNESS CAN HELP BREAK NEGATIVE THOUGHT HABITS
If you have a role in your company where you are expected to make the right decision, critical thinking becomes crucial. In order to develop critical thinking skills, you need to be aware of your own thoughts and let judgements go.
Mindfulness may not keep negative thoughts from arising but mindfulness exercises seem to help people develop awareness of negative thoughts and consequently let them go more quickly. The awareness that mindfulness practice creates is underpinned by changing thought patterns. As a result, you become more aware of your thoughts and emotions and this helps you to deal with negative thought habits.
WHY GRATITUDE SHOULD BE YOUR FIRST FOCUS
Benefits of regularly focusing on gratitude do seem to exist. Some researchers have found that self-guided daily gratitude exercises increase the optimistic evaluation of one’s life, improve sleep quality, enhance optimism and a sense of connectedness to others.
Results suggest that we may enjoy emotional benefits when we intentionally focus on things for which we are grateful, rather than focusing on complaints or any negative thought.
Click here for more information about this research.
Week 4 - Make friends with difficult emotions and better guide your team's performance