Since the time that you woke up today until right now, when you are reading these words, your brain has had an estimated three thousand thoughts each hour. Even more now, because you’re thinking about what you just read. On average, we have about 60,000-80,000 thoughts per day!
How much thought do you give to your thoughts? I hear about them a lot in my work as a wellness coach, because thoughts are the main thing that get in the way of healthy living. I remind folks every day that they are the gatekeeper for their thoughts, and that they can choose which ones they engage with and which ones they don’t. I usually encourage them to engage with the positive ones and let the negative ones pass them by.
And eventually, someone will say, “well I can’t just ignore my problems! I have to deal with reality eventually!” And, I wholeheartedly agree. Reality definitely needs to be dealt with.
But your negative thoughts are not your reality. The problems your brain creates, the ones keeping you from living a vibrant and healthy life, are just passengers through the turnstile of your heart.
Stay with me.
Imagine that inside your heart is a turnstile, like in a subway station, and that your thoughts travel from your brain through your heart, and in order to do so they have to go through the turnstile.
And most of your thoughts, the mundane ones like picking up bread from the store and remembering to move the laundry from the washer to the dryer, go through the turnstile with no problem. Click, click, click.
But some don’t get through. Some of them become like an irate passenger who is not happy with things and wants to call the manager and make a big stink. These are negative thoughts, and they don’t go through.
You’ll know you have one of these because you’ll feel tense, on edge, and irritated. It might say, “I’m sick of vegetables! I don’t like this!” Or, “I’m tired! I don’t want to exercise today!” It is very loud and demanding, and it wants you to stop what you are doing and deal with it.
This is the part where some people decide they cannot follow through with their healthy plans: when an annoying thought throws a fit in their brain. But here’s a secret: you don’t have to deal with every single problem that crops up in the day. In fact, you can go to your imaginary turnstile, ask that irate passenger to please step to the side so the other passengers can get through, and set it aside for later, after you have done your other work. (And by “work” I mean eating vegetables and exercising.)
Then later in the day, after you have done the things, you can go over to the waiting area to deal with the problems. But guess what? It is unlikely that you will find anyone there waiting for you. That’s because most of the thoughts we have during the day just need to click through the turnstile. Some go through easily, others yell and shout on their way through, but most of them just need to do that and they’re gone. The actual problems that we really do need to take action on will still be there at the end of the day, and you can take action and resolve it so it can also go on its way.
Is there a line at your heart’s turnstile? Is there a thought that needs to step aside so the others can go through? You can still live healthfully while also having problems in life! This week, just keep the line moving. Click, click, click.