It’s often said that “where the mind goes, the body follows.” That’s why we keep our eyes on the road and our hands on the wheel. If we look too long in one direction, we steer in that direction, and sometimes right off the road! But, even with our eyes on the road, we can get derailed and our life can be less joyful, peaceful and authentic. The secret? Just as we practice good physical hygiene, we also can practice good mental hygiene.
Here are some exercises that can create a positive mental environment so you can steer towards rewarding activities and friends.
1. Fall in Love and Get Married
So many people want to make that love connection and today is your day. But you’re not going to marry just anyone. You’re going to marry yourself. In fact, get ready to be your best friend, your lover, your husband, your wife. But, you’re not going to become lonely or narcissistic. Love truly attracts love.
Exercise: Take five minutes and close your eyes. Imagine the love you feel for others (family, nature, pets, plants, children) and redirect it towards your heart, to the center of your being and stretching throughout your body to the tips of your toes. Keep re-energizing it and moving it through your body. Really enjoy how that feels. If you feel some blocks, or are a little uncomfortable, or completely delicious, keep it up. Gently let the positive energy of love transform any resistance. This exercise can shed years from your face! Also, when you are finished, drink a glass of water to flush away any toxins that you’ve released.
Habit: Keep the romance going. Do several healthy acts of love for yourself each day. Whether it’s complimenting yourself on a job well-done or giving yourself a chance to get to the gym. These acts of love will have you glowing with confidence and enthusiasm.
2. Glass 99.9 percent Full
People can give love, people can take love, but it can be challenging to receive love – especially from ourselves! Start noticing the acts of love around you. When people smile, they’re actually saying “I love you.” It doesn’t matter if it’s a little ‘l’ or a capital “L” – it’s love. Let it go into your heart and your awareness. Love is gratitude. Allow yourself to feel grateful for the things that you give or receive – even from yourself.
Exercise: Take five minutes and create a list of people, events, and things for which you are grateful. Instead of moving from one item to the next, be with your gratitude and let it permeate your heart, body and mind. Ask why you are grateful. Sometimes thinking about the smallest things, like the beauty of a flower, or the smile of a friend, can increase its value in your mind.
Habit: Each hour of the day (or more), notice or choose something that brings you gratitude. Or, look at something you haven’t noticed and see why you should be grateful for it. Practice with new eyes, see with new eyes.
3. Sweeten Your Inner Dialogue
Often our inner dialogue is negative. If we communicated like this to our colleagues, we’d get fired. In fact, we’re often more encouraging to others. So why do we do this? Our fear of failure makes us even more fearful, more negative. The reality is: Mistakes are only lessons from which you learn wisdom. Resolve to become your own mentor or boss. Become aware of your tone of voice, even when you say something jokingly. Subconsciously, negative words can create negative expectations and reinforce our negative programming. Below are common phrases and their positive rephrases.
Negative: “Argh, I can’t do anything.” Or “I suck.”
Positive: “I’m worried about doing well. But I’m getting good practice and I like this opportunity to practice.”
Negative: “I’m working hard.”
Positive: “I’m working diligently.” Or “This work is challenging, but I can be creative and finish it easily.”
Negative: “I’ll never get this done.”
Positive: “This will take the time that is takes and I’m going to enjoy being alive.”
Exercise: For five minutes, think of your negative messages. Rephrase each in a positive way. Say each positive phrase 10 times.
Habit: Notice negative phrases or tones that you hear (from yourself and others) and rephrase. Write them down so you can practice positivity. Practice speaking more softly and gently to yourself.
4. Unknow Thyself (or Does This Serve?)
Often we have habits or behaviors that we don’t question. We just accept that this is who we are. But sometimes our greatest weaknesses are our greatest strengths used at the wrong time.
Exercise: Think of a positive trait (helpfulness, loving, loyal) and a negative trait (stubborn, impatient, untrusting).
If it’s a positive trait, how does it affect you negatively? What are negative word(s) you can use for it? For example, “competitive” can become “selfish,” or “helpful” can become “exhausted.”
If it’s a negative trait, what is a positive word you can use for it? “Relentless” can become “persistent,” or “numb” can become “peaceful.”
Now, become aware that it’s possible that these are not traits, but they are skills. Then ask yourself, does it serve? When does it serve? When has it not served? Are there times in the future where you can pause before using that skill? Or can you choose to let someone else use or develop their skills?
Habit: Become more mindful of why you do things. Ask yourself whether it serves equally (including you). Determine your motivation. Once in a while, it’s okay if we give more than we get, but if it’s too frequent, it may become unsustainable and we’ll become depleted.
5. No-Emotion Zone
It can be so easy to talk oneself out of a task or exercise – or we have no energy because too much was spent stewing (anger) or fretting (fear). Ultimately, everything is a choice. From what we say to what we feel. Even if a task is boring, does it serve to feel bored or negative throughout the task? It actually takes more time and energy, meaning less time for us. Now, you can create a No-Emotion Zone. This means not thinking about the future (forward-fretting), the now, or the past.
Exercise: Choose a couple of small tasks. Focus your mind specifically and gently on the task, but with no dialogue in your mind. You can let yourself feel happy, peaceful or grateful, but if you start having an unhelpful emotion or conversation, gently remind yourself: “I want to do this and I’m grateful.” Then clear your mind of conversation.
Habit: Once you’ve created a No-Emotion Zone and you’ve decided to do something, there are no ifs, ands or buts. It’s become a proven fact. It’s as if you’ve already done it. As Nike says: Just do it.
These are just a few exercises to create good awareness and mental hygiene. They can help shift your perspective and cleanse the mind of habits and behaviors that no longer serve. In fact, after practicing this mindfulness, it’ll be easier to keep you on the road to prosperity and you get to enjoy the ride!