Spring clean your mind with mental floss

A mental floss is to our mind like what a dental floss is to our teethLike regular use of dental floss is vital to remove the bits of food that rot our teeth, regular removal of negative thoughts, that can “rot” our minds and lives, is also essential. I call getting rid of this negativity “mental floss”.

Last year I saw an eight-week course advertised called Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life. The course outline said that the psychologist running the course (let’s call her Jane) would discuss ways to change our thoughts to become happier, and live a better life. I thought, “Great, I’ll learn more ideas about how to mental floss”, so I joined the course.

One night Jane led a class exercise to show us that everything we feel in life can be traced back to what we think. Her exercise made a lot of sense, but I thought, “This is a psychologist’s perspective. What would other health professionals say?”

Change your lifestyle, change your life

If I could run the ultimate course to change lives, I’d call it something like Change your Lifestyle, Change your Life. Let’s use an example. Person A wants to change their life for the better. A psychologist, like Jane, might say, “Change your thinking”, a nutritionist, “Change your diet”, and a personal trainer, “Change your exercise habits.” The Biggest Loser show on TV is an excellent example of people changing all of these three aspects to turn their lives around.

The health professionals’ recommendations would all be correct, each like a piece of a jigsaw puzzle fitting together to boost health and happiness. If one piece is missing, the picture is incomplete, so each piece is needed. So a mental floss is necessary, and also a physical, dietary and attitude floss… – a “lifestyle floss”.

Our eating, thinking and exercise habits are three of the biggest factors that affect how we think and feel, and what we think affects our eating and exercise habits, and our exercise habits affect our eating habits, and so on. They are all intertwined.

Besides thoughts, what other things can affect how we feel?

Things that affect how people feel – that might not be caused by their own thoughts – include:

  • medication, alcohol and other drugs
  • health problems, disabilities and/or injuries that they never dreamt of getting (so they didn’t create these by often thinking about them) that cause pain, discomfort…
  • a lack of omega-3 fat, vitamin B, zinc, magnesium and/or other nutrients that when boosted to healthy levels improve mood/concentration/memory…
  • food and/or chemical sensitivities that make some people sad/moody/irritable…
  • pesticide and/or other chemical poisoning that badly affects people’s brains, so their thoughts and feelings as well
  • heavy metal poisoning, such as mercury poisoning, which can literally send people insane, so greatly affect their thoughts and feelings, and aluminium and lead poisoning, which can both cause learning disabilities

What can affect our thoughts?

Factors include:

  • our own and others’ thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors
  • what we see, hear, smell, taste, eat, drink, touch, feel and perceive
  • our sleeping habits
  • our exercise habits
  • legal drugs (including alcohol and cigarettes), illegal drugs and medication that we take
  • the media
  • environmental factors such as pollution, heavy metals, industrial and household chemicals, and the quality of our air, water, soil, food…

There are too many above factors to cover in one article, so let’s focus on just one for now – changing our thoughts by mental flossing.

How can we mental floss?

Some ideas to mental floss are:

  • deal appropriately with stress and worry
  • control rage and anger
  • banish jealousy and hatred
  • forgive ourselves and others for mistakes, upsets…
  • overcome fears and phobias
  • stop focussing mostly on the negative aspects in ourselves, others, the world…

What are some positive thoughts that we can replace negative thoughts with?

  • Happy thoughts about our hobbies, pets, pastimes…
  • Thoughts about uplifting people, animals, books, songs…
  • Positive plans for our future
  • Ways we can improve our own and others’ lives
  • Imagine having already achieved our goals, such as winning at work or sport, and being fitter and healthier
  • Ideas to overcome problems in our lives
  • Thoughts that focus on the positive aspects in our lives, other people, the world… rather than the negative aspects
  • Exploration of constructive spirituality

A mental floss might be enough to change our lives. Ultimately a lifestyle floss is likely to be the way to go for long-lasting and comprehensive change.

What aspects of our lifestyle might need a “floss”?

We are each unique in the areas of our lives that we need to focus on to improve. We might be doing well in some areas, but others need a boost. Here are some suggestions:

  • Our thoughts, beliefs and attitudes
  • Behavior towards ourselves and/or others
  • Sleeping habits
  • Spending habits
  • Work habits
  • Eating and drinking habits
  • Exercise habits
  • Reading, TV, internet… habits
  • Our self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Social circle
  • Things in our environment that we have some degree of control over, such as water quality (using a water filter)

How can we start to change our lifestyle?

If we don’t know where to start, or change seems overwhelming, start with one area of our lives that we’d like to improve. Work on improving that for a while, then go from there. Break-down large tasks into small manageable ones.

Put in the time and effort, and commit to changing our lives for the better. It’s amazing the opportunities that can arise, and how things can slot into place once we commit to constructive goals and believe, “I’ll achieve my goal no matter what, and everything I need to achieve it will come to me when I need it.” People, books, articles, ideas…that we need can “miraculously” appear at the right time and place.

Do the lifestyle flosses needed for positive change. Combine positive thinking with a positive lifestyle to achieve positive results. Persist through tough times and remember that if we’ve failed in the past at making changes, it doesn’t mean we are failures. As Confucius said, “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

written by Nyomi Graef

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One Response to “Spring clean your mind with mental floss”

  1. Zoran says:

    This article, and entire website actually, is a wealth of information. Thanks very much for your informative insights Nyomi!!

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