There is a single force that controls the quality of your life.
Do you know what that force is?
What is the one power that you have right in this moment that can change everything?
We all have it - this one single power.
What is it?
Watch this video for a clue...
The single force the controls the quality of your life, is your thoughts. And this video gives you some insight in to why.
Some may say it is our beliefs that determine our lives, and yes this is true, but if we break this down we will discover that our beliefs come from our thoughts. What is a belief except a thought that you once thought, and then you continued to think it over and over, until it became a belief.
The important and EXCITING thing about THOUGHTS is that they are also the ONE THING you have control over in this world.
YOU CAN CHOOSE WHAT YOU THINK.
As demonstrated in the video above, there is a constant cycle happening in your life ... the cycle goes like this : thoughts ... emotions ... behaviours ... outcomes ... thoughts ... emotions ... and on it goes.
Most of us are pretty much stuck unconsciously in this cycle, most of the time.
But you don't have to be. There's a single point of power in which you can break this cycle. That point of power, is the point of your thoughts.
There is nothing more powerful than changing your thoughts. You can try to change your circumstances, but if you don't change your thoughts, the same types of experiences end up happening over and over again, because you changed something outwardly, but nothing changed inwardly.
Right now, many people are going through challenging times, uncertain times, unsettling times. It is a time of great change and change can be extremely stressful. You may not be able to change your circumstances right now, you can not change your destination overnight, but you can change direction at any moment by changing your thoughts.
Of course if it were easy, everyone would be doing it! Negative thoughts are addictive and all consuming.
Here are a three steps to help you start to change your thoughts...
STEP ONE : Acknowledge the power of your thoughts.
Getting a sense for and grasping the incredible power of your thoughts is the greatest step you can take towards SELF EMPOWERMENT.
STEP TWO : Become conscious of your thoughts.
Consciously monitor your inner conversation. Pay attention to what your thoughts are saying to you. Notice how many of them are negative. Write them down if it helps.
STEP THREE : Replace thoughts that don't serve you, with new positive empowering thoughts.
You may not be able to stop negative thoughts coming to your mind, but you can choose not to entertain these thoughts. You can shut them down the moment they enter. You can say to yourself, 'No, I'm not going to accept that thought." Then you can replace it with a new thought. Withdraw your attention from the thoughts you don't want, and place your attention on thoughts you do want. This ability to control the direction of your attention, is the key to a happy life.
PLACE A PERMANENT SIGN AT THE DOORWAY TO YOUR MIND : NONE BUT THE POSITIVE AND THE GOOD SHALL ENTER HERE!
There are many factors that cause you to think the thoughts you think ... habit, beliefs formed in childhood, beliefs passed on from your parents, the result of past experiences - good or bad... but you don't have to figure all of that out... you could very simply start today to take control by noticing and replacing the thoughts you don't want, with new thoughts. You may not be able to make a radical shift in one day, but you could start to break the cycle.
BUILD ON THE MOMENTUM
Start to notice how your new thoughts, lead to new ways of speaking and acting... and in turn lead to different outcomes in your life... which in turn make it easier to continue to think better thoughts. See how you can turn a negative cycle into a positive one, with just a little bit of effort in changing one thought at a time. Change the momentum from negative to positive, and then build on this momentum.
FROM WOO WOO TO SCIENCE
The power of thoughts was once seen as little 'woo woo', but now it's exciting that this idea is backed by massive amounts of science and research. The above video features world respected neuroscientist Dr Joe Dispenza... Academic researcher Dr Lucy Hone says, "We have a choice in how we think... ".
The KEY MESSAGE here is that it IS a choice. Sometimes it may not feel like you have a choice, thoughts are powerful, but you are stronger than any thought, and you have the power to change the thoughts that don't feel good.
Like anything, no amount of fact, science, research or expert testimony means a thing, if you don't apply the strategy in your life. Now it's time for your very own science experiment, with you as the guinea pig, get started right now, this very moment, on taking control of your thoughts, and discovering the results.
One of my go-to strategies in moments of overwhelm or despondency, is to pop in my headphones and listen to an inspiring, uplifting, insightful Youtube clip.
The reason I do this is because it's a means to flip the script that's playing in my mind. When that voice in my head is negative, it can be one of the hardest things to summon up the will to change what it's saying, it feels so real and so true and so all encompassing.
Rather than go to battle with that voice, it's much more effective and gentle to tune out that voice, and tune into a voice of hope and inspiration.
If you can find a way to believe something that is more empowering than you were believing a moment before, and that new belief can find its way into your actions... this is the secret to a horrible day becoming a wonderful day, or an average day becoming an exceptional day.
I have some favourites Youtube clips that I save and listen to over and over, or sometimes I'll just scroll through the Youtube feed and see what resonates with me at the time.
Last week, I came across this rendition of the 'Desiderata'. This powerful poem has been a favourite of mine for many years, and it seems so fitting in these challenging times.
To me, the 'Desiderata' portrays the perfect balance of ebb and flow, striving and surrendering, achievement and contentment, optimism and realism, discipline and gentleness... and encompasses all aspects of a happy and wholesome life.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I do, and that it helps to flip your script... save it to your favourites and revisit it each day.
Below is the beautiful rendition Youtube video of the 'Desiderata', and also a PDF copy for you to print and pop up in your home or office. The more reminders you surround yourself with to trigger an empowering mindset, the better!
By Ashlee Hickman - PEPTALK Magazine Youth Editor
Being a teenager, juggling school, out of school activities, youth editor of PEPTALK magazine, and my very own small business it's so crucial to keep a strong mental well-being, especially during the time we're going through right now. It's important to keep yourself busy, but relaxed, it's a great opportunity to get a breather from life's challenges. What I'm most excited for coming out of lockdown is adopting all of the new, good habits I have gained during this time. Such as, keeping a consistent morning and evening routine, working-out every week day and going hard at it, and learning to relax and enjoy time with my family.
So I challenge you tonight, before the next week ahead starts, ask yourself: What have I managed well? What do I need to improve on? How can I be the best version of myself? Plus try to set a couple of goals to keep you on course.
Have a great week,
Author of Atomic Habits James Clear is a bit of a Guru when it comes to habits. It's his specialty area and he has many excellent insights and strategies to share. The video below gives a great overview of some key factors to successfully building new habits.
Here are some key takeaways from the video:
Habit Strategy - try it
MAKE IT EASIER ON YOURSELF
The best way to break a bad habit is to make it impossible to do. And the best way to create a good habit is to automate it so you never have to think about it again.
There are certain one-time-actions you can take to help make forming new habits, or stop repeating old habits. These are actions that set yourself up for success.
James surveyed his readers on their favourite onetime actions that lead to better long-term habits. Here are a few of the popular answers…
Nutrition: Use smaller plates to reduce caloric intake.
Sleep: Remove your television (or phone) from your bedroom.
Productivity: Delete games and social media apps from your phone.
Focus: Set your phone in Do Not Disturb mode.
Happiness: Get a dog.
Health: Buy better shoes to avoid back pain.
Finance: Visit a Financial Advisor and set up a budget plan, with checks and measures in place.
These illustrate a range a simple onetime actions... you're only limited by your imagination, what could you do to make a habit easier to form?
Habit Strategy - try it
THE HABIT SCORECARD
James says, "One of our greatest challenges in changing habits is maintaining awareness of what we are actually doing." We don't see the consequences of bad habits in the moment, but they can sneak up on us. Creating a Habits Scorecard is a simple exercise you can use to become more aware of your behaviour, and then modify it.
Follow James's instructions below on how to create a habits scorecard.
To create your own Habits Scorecard, start by making a list of your daily habits.
Once you have a full list, look at each behaviour, and ask yourself, “Is this a good habit, a bad habit, or a neutral habit?” If it is a good habit, write “+” next to it. If it is a bad habit, write “–”. If it is a neutral habit, write “=”.
For example, the list above might look like this:
An important side note:
Scoring your habits can be a bit more complex than just stating good, bad, or neutral.
James says, 'The labels “good habit” and “bad habit” are slightly inaccurate. There are no good habits or bad habits. There are only effective habits. That is, effective at solving problems. All habits serve you in some way—even the bad ones—which is why you repeat them.'
When completing your Habits Scorecard, you should categorise your habits by how they will benefit you in the long run. Generally speaking:
- Good habits will have net positive outcomes.
- Bad habits have net negative outcomes.
eg. Smoking a cigarette may reduce stress right now (that’s how it’s serving you), but it’s not a healthy long-term behaviour.
Still having trouble deciding if a particular habit is good or bad, here are two pertinent questions to ask yourself:
“Does this behaviour help me become the type of person I wish to be?"
“Does this behaviour move me closer towards, or further away from my goal?"
The 'Will I...' challenge is simple, but life transforming. It allows you to harness your power of choices, it helps you experience the incredible amount of WILLPOWER you possess, it shows you that you CAN decide in each moment how you will react, act, think and be... and what a profound impact this has on your life experience.
POSITIVE CHOICES - STEP BY STEP:
1. First, read over the poem below.
2. Click the link below and print out the poem.
3. Put the poem on up on the wall and ready it several times a day.
4. In as many moments as possible throughout the day, become aware of your ability to make a conscious choice and ask yourself the relevant line from the poem :
"Will I …. , or Will I …. ?"
Will I wish my life away or... Will I acknowledge the fleetingness of this life and appreciate every breath and every moment?
Will I freak out or... Will I chill out?
Will I resist against what is happening or... Will I accept this moment?
Will I react or... Will I relax?
Will I fight to prove my ‘right-ness’ or... Will I let go and stay in peace?
Will I live as though the world is against me or... Will I live as though everything is rigged in my favour?
Will I spend my energy trying to change or control others or... Will I dedicate my energy to controlling my inner thoughts and emotions?
Will I be ordinary or... Will I be extraordinary?
Will I stay stuck in my ways or... Will I be open minded?
Will I complain or... Will I appreciate?
Will I see lack or... Will I see abundance?
Will I live in thoughts of the past and of the future or... Will I live ONLY in this present moment?
Will I be limited to what my mind can conceive or... Will I allow my heart to dream big and fulfil my unlimited potential?
Will I view life as hard work or... Will I see life as a joyous journey?
Will I resist against and complain about challenges or... Will I see
challenges as an opportunity to learn and grow?
Will I believe the world is against me or... Will I believe the world is for me?
Will I hate or... Will I love?
Will I doubt or... Will I have faith?
Will I get caught up in drama or... Will I rise above it?
Will I gossip, criticise, judge, compare or... Will I mind my own business?
Will I be absorbed by my emotions or... Will I stand back and get a broader view?
Will I be closed or... Will I be open to a different perspective?
Will I be angry or... I will I take a deep breath and let it go?
YOU ALWAYS HAVE A CHOICE. ADD YOUR OWN : Will I or... Will I...
Need uplifting reading material during lockdown and after?
PEPTALK Magazine is bringing mental wellbeing strategies to kiwis right now, when we need it the most. We have 1000 copies to gift to help you feel good & thrive during this time...click below to sign up to receive your free magazine.
You may have seen the poem below on social media in recent days. We thought this was so beautiful... timeless... and what a poignant reminder that we're not alone in this. Others, billions of others, have been through similar and much worse throughout time. These are not unprecedented times, seasons come and seasons go, and it's so important to roll with that ebb and flow of life. Try not to fight it, but rather, grasp the lessons, learn new ways of living, create a new, healthier normal, rest and heal.
We've created a print out version of this poem so you can print it out and pop it up on your way for daily inspiration... click here to download
Need uplifting reading material during lockdown?
PEPTALK Magazine is bringing mental wellbeing strategies to kiwis right now, when we need it the most. We have 1000 copies to gift to help you feel good & thrive during this time...click below to sign up to receive your free magazine.
I have a confession to make, the last week I’ve been struggling.
My thoughts and emotions are all over the place.
It feels like everything that was exciting got whisked away, and in a blink there was a totally different picture.
Each day is like a rollercoaster, I start off fresh and recommitted to feeling good, but then things go downhill from there, by mid afternoon I've spiralled all the way down to feeling completely miserable and hopeless.
It’s hard to admit that I feel this way. How dare I! When everyone else is facing similar disappointments, and many are facing much much worse.
As I sit on my bed (my new office) and write this, every five minutes or so, another child comes in to tell me something, show me something, ask me something... with each interruption my patience wears a little thinner, I take deep breaths, I try to relax… but there are times, like now, that I can’t help but snap at one of them, and then comes the guilt and the thoughts of self criticism, ‘I’m a terrible mother, I should be more patient, I shouldn’t be working, I should just give up on all of this, who am I kidding, I should forget everything else and be a wife and a mum….’ And on and on it goes.
But hold on, I’m the one who’s suppose to be giving the pep talks! I’m supposed to uplift and inspire, I'm supposed to focus on the good, and express gratitude all of the time.
What a fraud!
I didn’t start this business called PEPTALK because I was the perfect picture of positivity. I didn’t start it because I feel happy all of the time. I didn’t start it because I always do the right things by myself and others. I didn’t start it because I’m some sort of perfect presence of calm and composure.
I started PEPTALK because I am the opposite. I’m imperfect and I struggle, A LOT, to keep myself feeling good mentally.
I started PEPTALK because I’m prone to depression, I’m prone to feeling sorry for myself, I’m prone to lacking confidence, I’m prone to anxiety, I’m prone to negative self talk, I’m prone to worrying what others think of me, I’m prone to reacting, I’m prone to beating up on myself...
I started PEPTALK because I’m prone to all of these things… but I learnt strategies that helped me, and I worked to consistently apply them, and when I applied them I felt better and better, more and more of the time, and that felt amazing and empowering. I then learnt more strategies that were backed by science, that didn’t just work for me, but worked for people universally the whole world over, and I felt a strong calling to share these strategies with others.
I started PEPTALK because even though I now know strategies that work, even though I know I should do the things like: focus on the good, practice gratitude, and engage my strengths… it’s not easy for me to always apply these strategies and I’m sure there are other people like me, who also need constant reminders, encouragement, and PEPTALKS!
I started PEPTALK because I find it damn hard to constantly, proactively build my mental wellbeing, but I discovered that when I do, it’s sooooooo sooooo worth it! It’s so worth it to feel great, to manage stress well, to be full of energy, vitality and enthusiasm for life; to feel confident and self assured; to have patience and to treat those around me with love and kindness; to laugh and have fun with them; to engage in my passion and live with purpose; to be creative and productive… these are some of the many payoffs I get from working hard on my mental health everyday, and it’s so worth it.
This is why I’m passionate about and super proud of the inaugural issue of PEPTALK magazine… the brakes may have been put on our big launch, but I won't put the brakes on getting this magazine out to those who it can help, especially right now.
I’ve decided to give 1000 copies of our first issue away for free! Because it feels right, and I know it can provide such benefit to so many. If you’d like to receive a free copy of PEPTALK magazine delivered to your mailbox click here, and then pass this on to others you know who could benefit also.
It's worth it to learn the skills that work and apply them, it's worth it to feel good, great, or bloody fantastic, even in times when it's hard to. It's worth it to know the empowering truth that, no matter how deep the hole or how gloomy the outlook, you can climb your way out, and enjoy it while you do. This is as much a reminder to me, as it is to you.
For most of us our usual routines have gone completely out the window, that can be disconcerting, or it could be an opportunity to create entirely new habits. Dr Joe Dispenza talks about breaking the cycle of thoughts and feelings to create new habits and a new life ....
It is possible to rise up from adversity, there are strategies that work, we are able to make ourselves think and act in certain ways that help navigate the tough times, whatever they may be." - Dr Lucy Hone
Resilience expert Dr Lucy Hone is more aware than most that people can choose different ways of thinking and acting to help them navigate terrible life moments.
Following the tragic death of her 12 year old daughter and two close family friends, Lucy was forced to sink or swim. In retrospect though, she now counts herself lucky she had skills to draw upon from her in depth training in resilience and positive psychology - skills that enabled her and her family to avoid becoming statistics of mental illness following the most challenging adversity that life could throw at them.
Lucy is on a mission to empower schools, teachers, students, and organisations to learn about the scientific methods shown to promote resilience.
Her work is centered around letting people know that they have a choice about how they think and act, and that there are evidence-based strategies to help us cope. A highly regarded academic researcher, Lucy specialises in taking the best scientific findings out of academia and bringing them to people in their everyday lives, delivering practical insights to enhance wellbeing.
With the majority of time and funding focused on the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, New Zealand’s current ‘sickness model’ of mental health needs to change.
It is time to teach our children - and ourselves - how to navigate life in a way that breeds resilience not dependency, or despondency.
Lucy trained with the best of the best, Dr Martin Seligman and colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania USA. Interestingly at the time, the institution had also picked up the responsibility of training all 1.1 million American soldiers in resilience and good mental health post deployment - you can’t get a much tougher audience than that!
Upon her return home to Christchurch, to start her doctoral research, Canterbury’s 2010 and 2011 earthquakes hit. She put her research on hold (later completing her PhD in Wellbeing Science/Public Health through AUT University in Auckland), and started working with her home community. She worked with government departments, companies and community groups, teaching them the ways of thinking and acting that science knows boosts resilience. Lucy thought that was her moment to put all of that research to good use, but sadly she was wrong.
Her own test came in 2014 on Queen's Birthday weekend while heading off on a trip with her husband, three children and two other families.
Her 12-year-old daughter Abi decided to hop in the car with her best friend Ella, 12, and Ella's mum Sally, a dear friend of Lucy’s. As they traveled south, a car sped through a stop sign, crashing into them and killing all three of them instantly. In the blink of an eye, instead of being the resilience expert, she was the grieving mother. Suddenly she was the one on the end of all the well-meant expert advice. Leaflets described the five stages of grief: anger, bargaining, denial, depression and acceptance. A support group told them they could expect to write off the next five years to grief. But what Lucy needed most was HOPE. So she decided instead to conduct a self experiment with the knowledge and tools she had. She didn’t know if it would work. Thankfully for all of us and for her own family, it did.
Parental bereavement is widely acknowledged as the hardest of losses to bear but Lucy now knows, after her own five year journey, it is possible to rise up from adversity, that there are strategies that work, that you are able to make yourself think and act in certain ways that help navigate the tough times, whatever they may be.
Lucy shares the three strategies she relied upon and that saved her in her darkest days. These three strategies underpin her work and they're readily available to anyone to learn.
Resilient people use these very ordinary processes. Be willing to give them a go, especially when life throws a curveball at you. None of us are immune. Lucy Hone is the perfect example of how if you lean into the strategies, it is possible to live and enjoy moments of life, even in times when you think you will never come out of the darkness.
28 years ago, as the first destructive symptoms of mental illness began to appear, if I’d been able to foresee the eight desperate years that were to follow, I may have reached out for help right then, before bulimia took a firm grip on my life.
Then again, if I’d had the foresight to know the deep appreciation for the power of the mind, that this illness would give me, perhaps I would have consciously chosen the path of pain, shame, and self loathing that was about to unfold.
As a New Zealand representative gymnast, pursuing my Commonwealth Games dream, the pressure to maintain my weight and body fat percentage, lead me to start obsessing about food and then forcing myself to vomit, out of fear of putting on weight when I did give in to the intense food cravings.
It wasn’t long before a battle between food addiction and weight control was firmly intrenched, and with one hundred percent of my self worth attributed to my size, the battle was here to stay well after I retired from gymnastics.
One of the most painful parts of these years was the constant cycle of making thousands of promises to myself and then breaking them. Letting myself down over and over again. Completely losing all sense of self worth and self belief. It took so much time and energy to fit bulimia in to an outwardly normal functioning life, and keep it hidden from view. Keeping up with the lies and excuses was a full time job, it was all consuming.
Suicidal thoughts were a regular occurrence in moments of desperation. My lowest point was a frightening moment alone in a Madrid backpackers. The bulimia had been particularly rife for the last few months, I was so close to ending my life that day because I just wanted it to be over. I was broken and despondent after years of this hideous illness. I’d tried hard to stop for many years, and couldn’t, I saw no other way out. Thankfully, something snapped in me and I frantically shoved everything into my pack and went straight to the airport. I knew if I didn’t get out of there, I would not survive.
Then started the journey of getting help. It was far from an instant fix, another few painful years past before I was finally free from the constant cycle of binging, vomiting, cover ups and lies.
In the end it was an antidepressant medication that saved me from bulimia. But like any drug, there are (sometimes equally undesirable) side effects. The drug caused crippling anxiety and panic attacks. I knew that it was up to me to become self empowered if I wanted to truly be free.
Living with a mind in the grips of irrational beliefs and destructive thoughts on a daily basis is hell, but after coming out the other side of this dark place, a life-long fascination of the power of the mind was born. It was during my recovery years that I started to read self development books, fell in love with yoga, and spent six enlightening weeks of intensive training in yoga and meditation, in Thailand.
For eight long years I had experienced how destructive the mind is when negative beliefs and thoughts are left to their own devices, now I was beginning to see how equally constructive the mind can be, when harnessed in positive ways.
My process of personal growth, learning all I could about the mind, and applying this knowledge has spanned two decades, and still continues. Mental illness didn’t end with bulimia, I’m prone to depression and have plucked myself out of many black holes over the years. It’s a life long commitment to never stop learning and becoming more. I’ve taught myself how to be stronger on the inside than any outside force.
Meditation has been a key practice that has helped me become empowered to boost my own mental health. Through meditation I developed the life changing skill of being able to step back from my mind. Only then is it possible to self direct better thoughts from within. Each time I accomplish this, it’s an exciting feeling of self empowerment.
Even more exciting is that science is now teaching us that there is no place to think of practices such as meditation, positive self talk, and gratitude as 'woo woo nonsense', and if you're still in doubt, a simple self experiment would quickly prove how transformative they are.
Teaching these practices to my kids has also been fascinating. To see how quickly they respond, become enlightened about themselves, and learn how to positively handle their emotions. To watch their little minds broaden and deepen, and how they can change their mood, or increase their confidence by being proactive in directing how they think and feel. It’s really wonderful to watch.
My mission is to see that all Kiwi kids are taught these powerful, research-backed practices, so they can harness the power of their minds. I know this is the answer to changing the trajectory of mental health in New Zealand.
This is why I've spent the last 12 months researching dynamic positive education programs and other impacts to affect this change, and creating Project 'One million happy thoughts', to raise the dollars to implement these impacts.
Sharing my mental illness story publicly is the most terrifying thing I’ve ever done, but something inside me tells me I have to do this, to rip the scab off the shame once and for all, so I can boldly pursue my mission.
I’ve reached a place where I can say thank you for the rollercoaster ride of mental illness. The hard learned lessons and empowering insights are what have inspired me to found project ‘One million happy thoughts’, and to achieve the (some would say courageous, many would say outrageous) goal of changing the future, by arming children with powerful mindset tools.
One of the greatest minds to ever live, Albert Einstein said, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity”.
I believe New Zealand’s mental health crisis has given us the opportunity to create the most self aware, self empowered generation ever. I’m grasping this opportunity with both hands.
Follow on Facebook and Instagram @onemillionhappythoughts
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