This week’s blog is an excerpt from my upcoming book My Retirement Journal: A Blueprint to a Kick-Ass 2ND ACT Life. The book will be released sometime this summer. Enjoy!
“We become what we think about most.”
I believe that a key component to feelings of contentment, satisfaction, and happiness is mood, and I further believe that our mood is connected to our thoughts. Our dominant thoughts will determine how we feel emotionally. What is your mood right now? Are you feeling good about life? If so, then you must believe you are in a pretty good place. Congratulations! On the other hand, 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.
Your thoughts are programmed by the culture of your formative years, the influence of your parents and friends, and your environment. However, even 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. So negative thoughts truly can be replaced with thoughts of optimism, hopefulness, and encouragement.
Jack Canfield, coauthor of the bestselling book Chicken Soup for the Soul, says that we control only three things:
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 best to mentally consume; pay attention to what you watch, read, and listen to. It has been said that CNN is really an acronym for the “Crisis News Network.” This is not to pick on CNN; its name just happens to work. The same could be said for any news outlet. A familiar saying in every newsroom across the land is “If it bleeds, it leads.” With that thought as a common mantra in the industry, it is no wonder that bad news often rises to the top of the news cycle and stays there. With 24/7 access to current events and the views and advice of others on social media, you have to be very careful about how you respond to the barrage of what can mostly be negative news.
Make an effort to become a consumer of positive and uplifting prose instead. The world of available podcasts has exploded over the last few years, and many are free. A quick trip to the iTunes store will provide you with a host of options from which to choose. Search using words like “inspiring,” “success,” or “motivational,” and then click on the “podcasts” link. What you will find is the good stuff you should add to your 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 do they leave you feeling exhausted and mentally played out?
As I mentioned before, many have suggested that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with, so keep in mind that we are deeply influenced by those 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 of how you are acting. Periodically do a brief self-check-in and consider the impact of the individuals you spend 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, or 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.
If you are seeking more contentment in your life (and aren’t we all?), then make sure what you think, say, and do is in harmony with the thoughts, words, and actions of those around you.
I’ll keep you informed on the specifics as we get closer to the actual release date.
Enjoy your journey!
Gary A. Weuve, CFP®
Founder and CEO
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