“We become what we think about most.”

                             —Earl Nightingale

I believe a key component in feelings of contentment, satisfaction and happiness is mood. And I further believe our mood is connected to our thoughts and that our current dominant thoughts will determine how we feel emotionally. What is your mood right now? Are you feeling good about life? Then you must believe you are in a pretty good place. Congratulations! However, if your current attitudes are governed by negativity, doubt or worry, then it is going to be really, really hard to feel positive about your present circumstances.

Initially your thoughts are programed by the culture of your formative years, by the influence of your parents and friends and by your environment. If any of these were not the best, you can reprogram how you think about each. You do not have to accept and live with them. If you want to change your usual line of thinking to bring about a more positive outcome, you can.

Research has shown that our brains cannot simultaneously hold both a negative and positive image at the same time. So negative thoughts truly can be replaced with beliefs of optimism, hopefulness and encouragement.

Jack Canfield, author of the best-selling book Chicken Soup for the Soul, says that we control only three things:

  • Our thoughts
  • The images in our mind
  • Our actions—what we say and do

Be disciplined about and aware of what you allow into your brain. Learn what is the best stuff to consume as you watch, read and listen. It has been said by some that CNN is an acronym for the Crisis News Network. This is not to pick on CNN; their name just happen to work. The same could be said for any news outlet. And with the 24/7 access to current events you have to be very careful about how you respond to the barrage of what can mostly be bad news. A familiar saying in every newsroom across the land,

“If it bleeds it leads.”

—Marshall McLuhan

With that line as the common mantra of the industry, it is no wonder that bad news often rises to the top of the news cycle and can stay there.

Make an effort, therefore, to become a consumer of positive and uplifting prose instead. The world of available podcasts has exploded over the last few years. Many of these are free. A quick trip to the iTunes store will readily provide you with a whole host of options from which to choose. Search using words like inspiring, success or motivational and then click on the “podcasts” link. What will be revealed to you is good stuff to add to the brain daily.

I would also suggest you be purposeful about the people you decide to include in your life. Do they raise you up, encouraging you to be your best self? Or does the time you spend together leave you exhausted and mentally played out?

Motivational speaker and author Jim Rohn said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Know that we are deeply influenced by those people closest to us. They have an impact on how we think, how we act and the decisions we make. Perhaps you need to step away from a friend or two and get closer to others.

In the end, be aware of what you are thinking and how you are acting. Do a brief self-check periodically. Consider the impact of the individuals you are spending time with. Are the conversations and topics upbeat or are they rather bleak?

Now I am not suggesting that every conversation, interaction, TV program, book, newspaper article needs to leave you on cloud nine. I’m just saying that you need to be alert to the overall tone of the experience. Stay open to questioning the information you are consuming and the relationships you keep.

So if you are seeking more contentment in your life (and aren’t we all?), then make sure that what you think, say and do is in harmony with the thoughts, words and actions for you and those around you.

“Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.”

—The Dalai Lama

Gary A. Weuve, CFP®
Founder and CEO

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