The day has finished. We have spent today thinking of the following question:
Am I thinking negative thoughts before I fall asleep?
The average person will sleep a third of their life away. How many nights do we spend staring up at the ceiling, thinking about how tomorrow is going to be? How we have to do X, Y, & Z at work and we immediately begin to stress out.
Henry Ford once said: “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”
We have all heard that our thoughts become our actions, or that we are the five people we surround ourselves with. But why do we hear this? Why does this wisdom exist? Because it has been scientifically proven to be true.
Many are aware of the 1994 experiment Dr. Masaru Emoto conducted with water. For those who aren’t, here’s the summary:
In 1994, Dr. Emoto conducted a test wherein he placed phrases such as ‘Love and thanks’, ‘I hate you. You make me sick,’ ‘Joy’ ‘You fool,’ and ‘Gratitude’ on water bottles filled with water. After leaving the bottles in the fridge for an extended period of time, he removed the bottles and reviewed the water crystals under a microscope. The crystals from the bottles with positive phrases looked fresher while the negative phrased bottles were less fresh. The idea behind this is that human bodies are made extensively out of water and thus, positive and negative thoughts can affect our bodies in ways we may not even know.
That being said, we should all throw our lives to the wind, join a hippy commune and live a happy existence with one another, right?
While the study was criticized by many, the idea backing the study still stands true, thoughts and emotions run our lives on an unconscious level.
Over the last decade, much research has been conducted regarding the unconscious mind. Yale Psychologists John A. Bargh and Lawrence Williams set out to explore the subject further.
In their experiment, they juggled textbooks, papers, a clipboard, and a cup of coffee (either hot or iced) and then bumped into a student, requesting from the student help holding something. When the student offered, the psychologist provided the student with either the hot coffee or iced coffee. Later, the psychologists provided a story to the same student who helped them with the coffee.
The students holding the iced coffee interpreted the fictional character in the story as being more selfish, colder, and less social than the students who held the hot coffee cup.
Same story. Different emotions generated in part due to the cup of coffee they were holding. Their external stimuli dictated how they interpreted the world.
So if our external stimuli dictates how we interact with the world, what happens to our mental, emotional, and physical state when we hold onto negative thoughts?
We must learn to prime ourselves for a new day.
As Epictetus reminds us:
“Appearances to the mind are of four kinds. Things either are what they appear to be; or they neither are, nor appear to be; or they are, and do not appear to be; or they are not, and yet appear to be. Rightly to aim in all these cases is the wise man’s task.”
The stoics would journal and reflect upon the day’s events, really trying to understand what occurred, what emotions were invoked within them. But then, they’d know to let them go.
We cannot hold onto the negativity of the day or the past as the past is gone and can never be recovered.
Marcus Aurelius writes to himself in Meditations:
“It follows that the longest and the shortest lives are brought to the same state. The present moment is equal for all; so what is passing is equal also; the loss therefore turns out to be the merest fragment of time. No one can lose either the past or the future—how could anyone be deprived of what he does not possess?”
Our moments on this earth are fleeting. Do not allow the negativity of a day to carry into the next.
How have we grown from this? Did we execute any differently today because of this? Do you feel that you have new tools to accomplish tomorrow?