Spring training for your brain: Building mental muscle requires practice.
by Jeannette Maw
March brings us spring training, whether we’re following athletes at training camp or focusing on creating our own beach-ready bodies. But perhaps the best training we could participate in this new season is retraining our brains.
We each have well-worn habits of thought we didn’t consciously adopt. Whether we inherited these patterns from those who raised us, or took them on from co-workers, friends, or even the media, many of our thinking patterns are not deliberately chosen.
Some of these habitual thoughts serve us; some don’t. This spring consider training new mental muscle that serves you much better than some of your old habits of thought.
It’s grindingly slow traffic during your commute home. As traffic crawls forward, you glimpse flashing lights to the side of the road and see several cars piled up with body damage. Is your first thought something like:
I hope no one’s hurt.
These rubberneckers are slowing us down for no reason.
I hate commuting.
Peace and love to those involved.
Noticing your typical response to situations like this lends insight as to whether you have room for improvement with your ingrained thought patterns. Cultivating the habit of choosing new, better-feeling perspectives can dramatically improve your experience of life.
Deliberate creators know that negative thought patterns stimulate negative feelings, which attracts not-so-fabulous stuff in life (which is where our traffic accidents come from in the first place). Positive thoughts—and their accordant feelings—not only enhance our quality of life, but also upgrade what unfolds in our future.
You can see how the person who is annoyed at the inconvenience of a freeway accident arrives home more irritated and stressed than the person who feels compassion for victims. Once you’re stressed out, you’re a vibrational match to things that cause more stress. Conversely, flowing compassion puts you in greater alignment with desirable outcomes.
You can also gauge whether your habits of thought serve you by holding something in mind you want. As you think about this thing or experience you’d like, what additional thoughts surface? For example, if you’ve dreamed of changing careers, do you have inspiring thoughts like, “That will be a nice change” or something more like, “Dream on, buddy”?
One of my clients is a business owner who wants to negotiate the sale of her portion of the company to her partner. Since the only way we get anything is by aligning with it vibrationally, I asked her what it would feel like to have this outcome. She put her head in her hands, closed her eyes, wrinkled her brow, and struggled for several minutes to imagine what that positive outcome would feel like to her. That was a tough mental workout, and a crucial one which I asked her to repeat daily. In identifying what it would feel like, in imagining it unfolding, she built new thoughts and a new vibe that would allow the happy result to unfold.
Many people don’t naturally hold supportive thoughts for their dreams and desires (let alone dare to dream); it is an excellent mental muscle to build. As you think encouraging thoughts, you create and strengthen neural pathways that make it easy to vibrate what you want, and thus achieve it.
What about the truth?
Some argue it’s irresponsible to take a pollyanna view of life; that seeking the silver lining just sets us up for disappointment. Some believe that not preparing for the worst makes us vulnerable to it.
But if what we vibrate is what we attract (as asserted by the law of attraction), then it makes good sense to release habits of thought that inspire not-so-great feelings.
When we think we’re protecting ourselves from failure or being virtuous by playing it small, we really just handicap our ability to create our world as we want it. The truth is we can have whatever we can imagine, and it starts with daring to imagine it.
Holding thoughts in alignment with what we want is an incredibly powerful and highly underrated step in the direction of dreams come true.
Retraining the mind
So how to cultivate new habits of thought? Once you commit to choosing better-feeling perspectives, do what athletes in spring camp do. Practice. Practice. Practice.
Sitting down to lunch to discover your order is wrong—again—gives you an opportunity to practice. Instead of responding “Why do I keep coming here? These people are idiots,” you could try something lighter like, “I wonder if it’s just me this happens to” or “Someone else must be having a bad day, too.”
When you arrive at the theater to discover your movie sold out, instead of muttering about how long your wife takes to get out the door, reach for a thought that feels better. Maybe “Now we can linger through dinner” or “Perfect excuse to see the other show.”
Daily reality not only gives you practice to build new habits of thought, but your best dreams and desires can, too. Instead of sabotaging your goals with negative thoughts, practice reaching for thoughts that breathe hope and encouragement into your goals. Like “I’m getting this figured out, learning more every day” rather than “When will I realize it’s not meant to be?”
Going through the process of choosing better feeling thoughts retrains your brain and creates new neural pathways that grow in strength with each repetition. Pretty soon you’ll find it natural and easy to see the bright side, which is when you’ll notice life brightening up as well.
Jeannette Maw is an Attraction Coach and founder of Good Vibe Coaching in Salt Lake City.