How many articles have you read that start out with something like this?
Manage Your Weight: 10 Easy Tips
Five Simple Ways to Manage Your Money
Time Management Tips for Getting it all Done
How to Manage the Stress in Your Life
All these (fictitious, yet typical) articles suggest ways to manage some aspect of your life. Not bad, if you can do it. However, most people can’t. And here’s why.
They haven’t addressed the one type of management that trumps all: mind management.
Have you ever taken a course on managing your mind? Or read a book on learning how to think?
Probably not. Why would you? You probably believe that you already know how to think. And that your mind does not need to be managed. It just is.
If you haven’t been actively learning how to upgrade the workings of your mind, you may be thinking in simplistic terms. When you were a kid you were good or bad, you did it right or wrong, you were popular or a doofus.
To lead a successful life, mind management skills must be learned, updated and revised. Here are just three skills you need to master to be successful in any endeavor of your life:
- Differentiating thinking from obsessing.
Learning how to think about an issue rather than obsess about it is essential to accomplishing your goals. You are thinking when your mind is disciplined, focused, creative and goal-oriented. In contrast, you are obsessing when your mind is excessively preoccupied with a single thought that you can’t let go of. Obsessing starts with point A, then doubles back on point A over and over, spinning out of control, until you finally arrive — at the exact same place you began. This is not merely an unproductive process, it’s counterproductive.
- Reframing a situation.
Most of us grow up thinking that what we assume to be true is, in fact, true. We don’t realize that people construct a reality that is not objective. Rather it is based on our family, culture, religion, predispositions, learned biases, experiences, as well as the people with whom we associate.
We actively interpret the world in a way that we consider natural. Anything different from the way we think is then considered unnatural, alien, weird, wrong or just plain stupid. The way you interpret an experience is called “framing.” Actively changing your interpretation is called “reframing.” Reframing is a great way to counteract the tendency to become rigid in your own knee-jerk thinking.
- Cultivating a relaxed mind.
It’s easy to say, “just relax.” But for many people, that’s a really tough thing to do.
With a tight and tense mind, it’s hard to think well or unwind. How can you relax your gray matter? One way is to shift the focus from what’s threatening to what’s exciting or promising about a situation. You may not be able to help it if a fearful thought pops into your mind. But you can learn to develop control over how long that thought stays there. Once you know how to relax your mind (without the help of drink and drugs), you’ll be less likely to fall into old habits which don’t serve you well.
Learning how to manage your mind can be of tremendous assistance to you as you cope with life’s dilemmas and choices.
Franklin D. Roosevelt summed it up when he said, “People are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds.”