The health of our minds might still be a topic most of us don’t want to talk about. But for a happier you, loving your mind is key. Even if you have the best life on paper, the dream job, house, car, family, body, friends, if you are not looking after your mind life can be unhappy. This article aims to understand why our stress, worry and negative thoughts can sabotage our happiness and how to love our minds for a happier you.
Our Minds are Amazing
Firstly, let’s appreciate what our mind does for us. Just think of all we have achieved with the human mind. It is incredible. From discovering how to get a man on moon, to the internet, to creating delicious recipes, to building huge impressive structures, to mathematically theories, to making fire and energy, to our ability to learn, to create and to express ourselves in language, art, literature, music, movement. Our minds and the ability of our minds are amazing.
Our Minds for Survival
When we are in danger our minds are incredible to help us get to a place of safety. Our mind focusses our thoughts on the danger so that we are not distracted. It sends signals to the body to release adrenaline and cortisol (stress hormone). This allows our body and mind to only take in information relevant to the danger, to be alert and to have heightened responses. We can now think and act quickly to get us to safety. This is known as the fight/flight response, as our mind and body prepares us to fight the danger or run away from it. Our minds are amazing in danger and help us survive.
Stress and Worry
When we are stressed or worried, we can feel threatened and anxious. This signals to our mind we are in danger and the flight/fight response is automatically triggered. Our mind focuses our thoughts on the danger (our stress and worry) and sends signals to the body to fight or run. Being able to fight or run is not going to get us to safety from our worry and stress. Our mind isn’t doing anything wrong. It is trying to help us. It is programmed for survival. When focussing only on our stress and worry, however, we are unable to see the bigger picture. We may be caught in a cycle of anxiety, stress and worry. We can help our mind find safety by learning ways to manage stress and freeing our mind of worry. This is part of looking after and loving our mind.
Our Mind wants us to be our Best Self
Many of us are our biggest critic. When things don’t go as well as we expected, our mind may try to give us constructive criticism to enhance ourselves, our performance and our outcomes. Our minds are amazing for trying to help us be our best selves. However when our thoughts becomes overly negative it can sabotage our self-esteem, our performance and our outcomes. Thoughts such as “I’m not good enough”, “I can’t do it”, “I’m a failure”, “I’m hopeless” can be threatening and trigger the automatic fight/flight response. Our mind focusses on these thoughts and it can be very difficult to think of any positives. We may feel anxious or panic. Eventually we may lose our motivation and become withdrawn. We can help our mind find safety by noticing when we are being overly self-critical and by taking the time to compassionately challenge our thinking.
Love Our Mind
We can love our mind for a happier you in many ways and here are a few approaches:
- Appreciate our mind for how amazing it is
- learn how to manage stress and self-criticism
- free our mind of worry
- foster compassionate thinking
Some people find talking to a professional helpful or practicing Mindfulness meditation, while others are free of worry when they are doing what they love, such as speeding downhill on a snowboard or taking a swing on the golf course. I would encourage you to find your way to free and love your mind for a happier you in 2018.
I hope you have found this article helpful. Next week I will post Love Others for a Happier You in 2018. Until then, have a brilliant one.
With thanks to Bart La Rue for this week’s feature image.