Kate's been an online writer for over eight years. She works in healthcare and has studied mindfulness and nutrition for many years.
The mind can be our best friend, our worst enemy or something in between. Circumstances can affect us but only to a limited extent. Our environment has an impact on how we think and act but most of it is up to ourselves. The right mindset is basic to happiness, contentment, achieving goals and dealing with obstacles or negative life events of any kind. The right mindset is not just basic, it is absolutely essential.
In this article, we will consider the choices we all need to make and how to harness the power of our minds to navigate on our journey of life. We will be discussing the following topics:
- Have a Grateful Heart
- Mental hygiene
- Nourish your mind
- Pace yourself
- Pamper your body
- Rest & Relaxation
These topics are in no particular order. They are all interchangeable, and they work best in tandem with each other, so you can pick and choose which ones seem most relevant to you on your life's journey.
Read on to find out about the importance of gratitude in our minds and hearts. I hope you find this article practical, interesting and useful.
Gratitude is the Best Attitude
Although I said that the headings here are in no particular order, it is actually appropriate that gratitude is the first one because it is fundamental to everything else.
No matter what our circumstances, there is always something to be grateful for. All of us reading this have a home to live in, we have our eyesight and other senses, we have food, we have clothes. Some of us are lucky enough to be blessed with a family.
No matter what we find difficult in our daily lives, remembering that "it could be worse" is a good motto. To get the full benefit of being grateful, sometimes it helps to think in specific terms. For example, if it is a rainy day and you are outdoors, you can do one of two things: you can either curse the weather or you can be glad that you have your coat and/or your umbrella.
If you haven't your coat or umbrella, the worst thing that will happen is that you will get wet. The best things about getting wet is that you won't melt AND you will enjoy drying off and getting yourself warm and cosy when you get home.
Sometimes being grateful takes some practice and discipline. It is not always easy to be grateful but if you try hard enough for long enough it becomes easier over time. Be stubborn about learning to be grateful. Gratitude is very important for your contentment and harnessing the power of your mind to stop you getting annoyed about a wee drop of rain... or hail or even snow.
So the next time, you have to park far away from the entrance of the mall or supermarket on a rainy day, be grateful that you have your legs to walk the distance, your coat to cover you and the money to buy something in the shop that is your destination—simple as that.
Be grateful for everything else in life too (even in the bad times ) as per this example.
Try plenty of gratitude in your attitude, it works!!
Have an Attitude of Gratitude
We have illustrated this point under the above heading so there is not much more to say about it. Suffice to say, gratitude is an attitude and an attitude is simply a habitual way of thinking. Is your habitual way of thinking positive or negative? Develop an attitude of gratitude and make it a habit with stubbornness until it becomes a habit like eating and sleeping.
Obviously, you have abundance in your life if you have food and shelter. Be grateful for those things...and the rest...and then some!!
I have previously written an article here and a book on this topic. Mindfulness is very good for you. It can be used in formal meditation and/or in everyday settings. It means getting in touch with your senses and the world around you instead of wandering around in the landscape between your ears.
Although mindfulness is very beneficial, a bit of self-talk is also useful, too. Monitor your mind. Be selective about what you filter in or out of it. Gratitude as we considered above is a good filter for your mind and so is mindfulness. Mindfulness helps us live our lives fully in the moment and experience the peace and contentment that we deserve. Combining mindfulness with monitoring your mind (see heading on discipline below) is a winning formula for mental health and happiness.
After all, we are only as happy as we make up our minds to be.
Harness the power of your mind with mindfulness.
Two Types of Learning
- We have to learn from our mistakes to stop us repeating them
- Educational learning harnesses our minds.
We all make mistakes- it is the nature of the human condition. We can learn from mistakes and decide not to repeat them or get stuck in a rut of repetitive errors in the same situations. To avoid the latter, we have to keep our emotions in check (see heading below).
It is said that "a wise man learns from the mistakes of others and a fool learns from his own."
Learning through education has four benefits for the mind:
- self-improvement gives you a feel good factor.
- it distracts us from ruminating which is very important.
- it develops our skillset for everyday life.
- it gives us knowledge to use wisely in our everyday life.
Anyone reading this can choose to learn stuff online and learn for its' own sake just for the fun of learning new stuff. You can learn formally or informally. In fact, if you are not on a treadmill of repeating mistakes in a historical fashion, you are learning something new every moment that you are mindfully awake because your mind is open to learn new things as a part of life.
Education is informal as well as formal/academic. In fact some of the most skilled, competent individuals do all of their learning in the "university of life" without ever lifting a pen or reading a book. We have a lot to learn from these folk because they are far wiser than some of the scholars.
Learning is a great way of harnessing the power of your mind.
Don't let your heart rule your head or vice versa
Harness your Emotions
There is a triangle used in psychology which is used to illustrate the inter-related aspects of emotion, attitude and behaviour and the photo here illustrates it well. Action is a synonym on this triangle for behaviour and judgment is the synonym for attitude.
So now we can see that attitude (discussed here above), behaviour (discussed below), and emotion work very much in tandem and are affected by each other in a circular fashion in this trangle.
For example, in the illustration above about the walk to the mall in the rain, our emotion could be anger about getting wet. This is followed by our behaviour—we could be unkind to the shop assistant because of our resentment at getting wet. In this way, we are not discipling or harnessing our anger.
After all, it is not the shop assistant's fault that we don't like the weather and we have no right to lash out at the shop assistant just because it is raining or even snowing.
Negative and positive emotions have to be harnessed. Some folk believe that depression is anger turned inwards. Furthermore, our emotions are on a sliding scale of intensity which have to be harnessed within limits by the right self-talk and mindfulness as appropriate.
As we say in Eire, "Don't let your heart rule your head." I would amend this motto to say that it is better to balance the impact of your emotions and your mind by appropriately alternating between your heart and your head. Don't overanalyse, ruminate or act on impulse—harness your emotions with self-talk and mindfulness as appropriate for different situations.
"Use Your Head and Keep Your Feet for Dancing"
This is a good Irish motto for behaviour that needs no amendment. It is self-explanatory in nine short and simple words, as per the above heading.
The head, although far away from them, should always be connected with the feet.
In the context here, perhaps it is useful to illustrate with an example:
If you get caught in the crossfire of someone else's argument (either with themselves or another individual) I would say for sure that your head will tell you to remove yourself from that situation. Let your feet follow suit by removing yourself from that event.
However, if their argument is with you, insofar as possible use your head to exercise your right of no reply and only speak in your own defence, not in a reactive way to their argument. This is a good way to use your head. You can also use your feet in the same instance to get some physical distance from a verbal attack.
For example, you could leave the room. If they follow and are determined to maintain the conflict, simply keep using your head and only answer to defend yourself.
In five simple words; "stay out of their dance."
Harnessing the power of the mind is indeed quite a challenge in this instance but it is possible to do as a temporary measure of dealing with this.
There will be more on more permanent ways to use your mind to deal with conflict in your environment later.
So now we know about gratitude, mindfulness and self-talk and how they work together. We also know about the triangle of feelings, behaviour and attitude. This article was going to cover nine other topics, but it will get too long-winded.
I plan to write more on this subject in the future so that I can cover the following topics:
- Mental Hygiene
- Nourish Your Mind
- Pace Yourself
- Pamper your Body
- Rest & Relaxation
I hope you found what you read here useful and of practical benefit to you in your daily life—or that at least it gave you some food for thought.
Thanks for reading this far!
Harness Your Mind
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2017 Kate McBride
Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on May 21, 2018:
Well said...feeling gratitude and expressing it is freeing and brings untold joy to others as well as to us. Using our brain to the fullest extent is life changing...and while I do not do so to the extreme, I TRY to tap into areas not used enough by trying to learn at the very least one new thing every day. Scrabble is one way I do so.
Wishing you will and sending Angels your way ps
Kate McBride (author) from Donegal Ireland on June 10, 2017:
Thank you kindly for your interest Demas and regards to your lady wife from me. I have seen her photos on here with you :) Keep in touch, Kate
Perspycacious on June 06, 2017:
Looking forward to the rest of this promised series.