I believe that we need to have the self-discipline to turn our minds into faithful servants. This relates to both our thoughts and our words. We need to think positive, generous thoughts about life, about ourselves, and about other people.
Why? What if life really does suck? What if other people really are incompetent idiots?
The simple answer is because it is good for you. It is good for your sense of humour. It is good for your mental health. It is good for your relationships. It is good for the quality of your work interactions. It predicts better outcomes than negative, uncharitable thinking.
In this video, I offer a few ideas that will improve the quality of your thoughts and words.
Firstly, let's talk about words. Consider that just because it passes through your mind it doesn't mean it should pass through your lips. Just because you think something doesn't mean you should say it. It is worth taking this advice: Before you say something, ask yourself it is true, is it kind, is it necessary, is it helpful?
And now to your thoughts. Often our thoughts are based on untested assumptions. An event happens. We make a judgment about what that event means or what it says about ourselves. We look for evidence that we were right - and what you look for tends to be what you find. This confirms and embeds our assumptions and we treat them as truths.
However, we could do something different. This comes from Nancy Kline.
1. When something sets you off, describe what happened.
2. Ask yourself: What am I assuming about what this event means?
3. Subject this assumption to the test:
- Is this logical? Does it make sense based on what I know about myself, the world and the other person?
- Is it factual? Do I have evidence that my assumption is actually a face?
- Is it based on a positive philosophical choice? This is the choice to believe that most people are good, most people are doing their best most of the time, and most often things work out.
4. If you have answered No to any of the questions in 3 above, ask yourself: What would be a more generous (and liberating) assumption?
Now go and live your life - after all if an assumption is just an assumption, isn't it better for it to be a more positive one?