Monday, June 20, 2016

How # Negative Thinking Enslaves You and What You Can Do to Get Rid of It.

Updated on 15th Sept 2017

It is estimated that an average man(or woman)thinks between 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts per day,although opinions differ and there is no conclusive proof.Still,it is a huge number. Just imagine,if a majority of our thoughts were negative what would the state of our minds be like. No doubt such thoughts could push us to the brink of anxiety and depression.

The first requirement of a happy life therefore is to jettison negative thoughts.The term negative here denotes those thoughts which entail painful emotions.When we allow such thoughts to dominate our minds for an extended period they engrave a circuit in our brains which reinforces similar thoughts.It becomes a habitual response.

Our mind functions in such a way that when we think a particular thought,associated memories and thoughts come rushing in,so that a negative thought invites more negative thoughts.

Thirdly,negative thinking triggers the release of stress hormones like cortisol and noradrenaline,which in turn causes more stress.

These factors aggravate negativity.If this rings a bell with you here are some tips which will enable you to beat negative thinking:--

1)Neuroplasticity of brain offers us hope.An old channel of thoughts can be changed.We can build new pathways.This requires systematic,consistent,repetitive efforts.For example if you are dogged by a belief that you have cancer,then watch out for the incipience of that thought.The moment this worry begins to rankle your brain tell yourself"It is pure imagination-not true at all".If you do this repeatedly the worry will die down.

Suppose you are afraid of getting hurt in a road accident.Tell yourself that not everybody who goes out on a road gets hurt,you yourself have till now been safe,and that you are not a prophet and so you should not prophetize.

In this way you are giving your brain new channels to think along,replacing a negative thought with a positive one and cautioning your mind against predicting worst case scenarios for yourself.Remember that our minds can only think one thought at a time.When you saturate your mind with positive ones the negative ones automatically disappear.

2)One way of defeating negative thoughts is to talk about them with someone who cares for you,whose acuity you believe in.S/he will sooth your fears and put your mind at rest. 

3)What you can do to beat negative thoughts depends upon where you are at that moment.If you are at your workplace then unknowingly you must have retreated in your shell, slouched and etched a frown on your face.Such a stance is bad for your mental state.Get up,straighten your back put a smile on your lips,greet someone,chat with another and lo,the negativity has subsided!Our emotions are reflected in our posture,but our posture too has the capability of affecting our emotions.

4)Alternately,observe your surroundings mindfully.Look at each object-what it is made of,where it must have come from,how it smells and feels like--you get my point I am sure.Just be mindful of your present surroundings.Soon you will realize that your thoughts have changed track.

5)If the tensions and worries get the better of you while you are at home take up a chore which demands your attention.Doing something worthwhile will leave you happy and satisfied.The energy expended on that chore would have absorbed the surplus harmful chemicals which were released because of your anxiety.

6)Exercise too has peen proved to reverse the secretion of harmful chemicals.Even tearing a rag or paper to bits gives relief.

7)In case you are feeling too weak to do some work indulge yourself with a past time which absorbs you.It could be a brain game,board game,writing,drawing,painting,music,TV,or rummaging through your family albums.Anything which interests you will take your mind off your worries.

8)Some of us have no particular hobby.For such individuals getting out of house,meeting people,chatting with them or simply sitting in a park and communing with nature can be a good antidote.Calling up friends too,is a good idea.

9)It is not the events themselves but the way we perceive them which gives rise to anxiety.This happens because of certain cognitive distortions,more about which you can read at this post.

10)Negative thoughts make us feel weak and lethargic and as a result we skip many essential daily tasks like getting up early,making our bed,taking a bath, maintaining a clean wardrobe and keeping our things in order.All this will ultimately make us shabby and unkempt which will definitely depress us further.Therefore make it a point to religiously follow your daily routine-it keeps you occupied and less likely to ruminate.It is not for nothing that an empty mind has been likened to a devil's workshop.

11)Yoga and meditation are useful tools for soothing the mind and eliminating negative thoughts.

12)Another way out is to consult a psychologist or a counselor who will help you to explore your mind,your attitudes and beliefs to know why you have so many negative thoughts.Do you process your emotions in the right manner?Are you oversensitive?Are your expectations justified?Does your whole attitude need to be changed?.There might be some underlying issues which require closure.Psychotherapy will help you to sort them out.

13)If your negative thoughts are too overwhelming to allow you to take any self help measures,you can take medicines which will correct the chemical imbalance in your brain and curtail negative thoughts to a large extent.But some people suffer harmful side effects from them.It is best to keep it as a short time measure.

Pick up the antidote which works best for you. It is only after you kill those negative thoughts that you will find peace and fulfillment.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Benefits of Being a # Minimalist

Like everybody else,I too have spent a major part of my life collecting things which caught my fancy,were necessary or were gifted to me.Then came a turning point.My parents,being too old,went to live with my eldest sister and our beloved house had to be sold.But what was to be done with all that furniture and stuff?All three of us sisters had well furnished homes,therefore most of the things just had to be given away.It was very painful for me to even imagine that all the dear things which I had grown up with,were now scattered here and there.

I began to wonder what would happen when it was time for us to depart?I requested my children to take away any of the stuff they fancied.I had a huge pile of crockery,cutlery,utensils,linen and showpieces etc and I told them to shuffle through these things before they had to buy anything of that kind.Some of it I gave to my maid.But I still have cupboards full to the brim.I feel overawed by the heaps of items which crowd my home.There are things which are not currently in use,like books,wristwatches,documents,time-pieces,cameras,cassette tapes and electric appliances.

One day both of us sat down and discarded all our old medical test reports and other useless papers which had accumulated over the years.But this did not make any significant dent in our possessions.I am still racking my brain what next to discard.It is not easy to part with your cherished belongings.

Why did I buy so much?I am not a shopaholic.I merely wanted to have a decent home and provide my children with the basic comforts.None of this stuff is of recent purchase.Some of it was gifted by my kids themselves when they came visiting us after their marriage.So this is how it happened.I have come to the conclusion that I ought not to have bought so many things in the first place.It is best to be a minimalist.A simple way of life can actually be very rewarding.

If this hits home then the tips below will help you to start on this journey.I am well aware that young adults,those who are in the process of setting up their homes have to per force buy a lot of stuff.But this is also the time when one is attracted by every new trend and gizmo in the market.If you keep a few principles in mind,you will not go overboard.

On the way to becoming a minimalist--

1)These days the markets are inundated with new versions of stuff we already have;if possible,stretch what you possess.Kill that temptation to have the latest model.If at all you have to buy it,get rid of the first one-exchange or give it away.I myself use everything till it becomes unusable.

2)Don't go shopping merely to kill time,or because there is a sale on,or because you have money to spare.Trim your shopping lists regularly.

3)Discard duplicates.Do you really need so many wrist watches,mixer-grinders,choppers, mobiles,bags and footwear?

4)Those obsolete,redundant items like cassette players,c.d players,cameras and time pieces etc also deserve to be shunted out. 

5)Then there are trinkets and souvenirs which represent memories from the past.Most of us stick to them but they occupy a lot of space.Keep what is extremely precious to you,which you take out quite often,and discard the rest.

6)The books you have read-- will you ever find the time to read them again?

7)Whenever the urge to buy a new apparel stirs,go through what you already have and see if it can be altered to fall in with the current trend.

8)Whenever you feel the need to buy something look up your inventory,see what will serve your purpose.Innovate,recycle and improvise.These efforts can be very soul-satisfying because you not only desist from adding one more item to your belongings but also use up something which was lying derelict.Find a new use for old things instead of just storing them away.In this way you will create and not consume.

9)Eliminate the social accounts which you do not really need.Turn off the notifications which consume a lot of time but impart little.Also the aps which serve little purpose.

10)Go through your to-do list and cancel what you can do without.

11)Too much of media exposure takes your attention away from what is important to you and your loved ones--snip it too.

The benefits of minimalism

1* First and foremost,minimalism allows you more free time-permission to be your own self.

2*You can relax,you will not feel overwhelmed,irritated or persecuted by the countless tinkles emitted by your gadgets.

3*You can pursue your passions,do what you really enjoy doing.

4*You can give more time to your relationships-which,after all,are what make life livable.

5*You also save the time which you would have spent on shopping,hunting for the latest device.

6*And you save a lot of money.

7*That constant worry about what to do with the old redundant devices which have been replaced with newer ones is no longer there.

8*There is a sense of freedom,of not being tied down,not answerable to every so and so.

9*The house is less cluttered,with more space to move around.You also have more space to store the essential items.It is easier to clean your home.

10*You are doing your bit to minimize the amount of garbage which leaves your home.

11*There is a marked increase in your self esteem.You are  doing your own thing--no longer following the herd.The master of your own choices.

 In a very subtle way,minimalism makes life more simple,enriching and satisfying.Too much of stuff takes away a lot of time.It distracts us from the essentials.We tend to assign excessive importance to material things and neglect the needs of our inner core.Many modern conveniences have clubbed together to make workaholics of us.Instead of allowing us more free time these gimmicks in fact keep us on leash--and occupied.Try to just sit idle in a park now and then,watching children at play,communing with nature.It will refresh you enormously.