The Thought Meter: Change your mind, change your life

"There are always flowers for those who want to see them." ~ Henri Matisse

While sitting in my sunroom this morning, I remembered a very interesting dream. Here in the States, the police have a mechanism for checking how fast people drive in busy neighborhoods by using something called a radar speed sign - a sign that flashes your speed as you drive by. In my dream, I was driving down a neighborhood street when I came upon one of these signs. However, as I drove toward it, the sign didn't flash my speed, it flashed my thoughts - the actual thoughts I was thinking in that very moment (anxious thoughts about being late for an appointment). I was so amazed by what I saw that I wondered if it was my imagination. So I turned around to drive by again. Sure enough, as I pulled up, the sign flashed my actual thoughts: "I can't believe what I'm seeing."

When I woke from the dream I laid in bed for a long time thinking about what life would be like if each of us had a flashing "thought meter" on our street. Just imagine. Each day, as we traveled to work or to and from errands, we'd be able to catch a glimpse of what we're thinking. As you consider this idea, what thoughts would you see on most days? Would a majority of them be positive, life-enhancing thoughts, or worrisome ones that steal your energy?

If you find yourself in the latter category, don't be alarmed. The truth is most people live with a majority of less-than-desirable thoughts running around in their heads. Rather than beat yourself up, better to slow down and focus on getting a better reading on the meter :). This plan begins with awareness.

Here's something to keep in mind: Awareness raises consciousness. Read that last line again because it's important. Just becoming aware of your typical thought patterns will actually stimulate a move toward emotional health and balance. That's because the moment you notice a negative thought, you then have the ability to shift to something more positive. And then the fun begins. When you focus your mind on something good, it creates a good feeling, and that good feeling fuels you to make better choices. Better choices in turn, give you a better life. Let's look at an example of what I mean.

Let's imagine, like so many people right now, that you're worried about paying your bills. Once you turn on your thought meter, you notice that your thoughts are focused on how little money you have. If you make a choice to shift these thoughts to a powerful affirmation like, "Abundance flows into my life every day in miraculous ways," and you keep returning to this thought, it automatically makes you feel empowered to change your circumstances. This feeling of being empowered - a life-affirming feeling - will lead you to find actions you can take right now to improve your situation. Then, once you identify an action and take it, you not only change the course of your life, you reinforce your positive thoughts and the cycle starts all over again.

So, the first step toward success is to turn on your thought meter. To that end, check out this week's Take Action Challenge for three ways to do just that.

Take Action Challenge

Ready to monitor your thoughts? Here are three things you can do to create your own thought meter right now:

1. Set an alarm on your computer, your wristwatch, or a nearby clock for every 30 minutes, and when it goes off, notice what you're thinking.

2. Purchase a big sheet of colored stickers with fun images on them and place these stickers around your home and office. Then, each time you see one, stop and notice what you're thinking.

3. Place several check marks on your daily calendar (or in your PDA) at various times throughout the day and when you come upon one, stop and notice what you're thinking.

Get the idea? Once you become aware of any patterns related to your negative thoughts, develop a simple phrase that will start to counteract these unhelpful thinking patterns. Start with just one area of your life and watch what happens.

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Author Information

Cheryl Richardson

Cheryl Richardson is the author of The New York Times bestselling books, Take Time for Your Life, Life Makeovers, Stand Up for Your Life, The Unmistakable Touch of Grace and her new book The Art of Extreme Self Care. She was the first president of the International Coach Federation and holds one of their first Master Certified Coach credentials.

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