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You are living a busy, successful life but right now, how are things going? RUOK? Or do you have unhelpful thoughts, persistent ones that return with the tenacity of weeds? Thoughts that shut you down, tell you the future is more of the past (the bits you didn’t like) and make it hard to get out of bed in the morning? September’s RUOK Day is a reminder of the acute mental distress a lot of us face at one time or another in our lives. In a show of hands I can put mine up.

Positive psychology has uncovered strategies to help us feel better. We know happiness is a byproduct of good relationships, health, rewarding work, and that giving thanks and showing appreciation are key. We also know that our brains are plastic and we can learn and change throughout our lives. When things are going well perhaps we are tempted to tick off happiness off our to-do list. Until life has other plans…

The flip side of neuroplasticity is despite learning new and better ways, our minds have an equal if not stronger capacity to snap back to their old safe scripts. Almost like a default setting, the unhelpful, persistent thoughts that are so familiar can slide in under the radar when our resilience is low. Before we know it we’ve forfeited creating the life we want for the ‘real life’ of survival mode.

It feels real and it feels true.

It is not.

In the end, the reason resilience is hard earned is because it requires we persevere in the face of whatever is taxing us in our outward lives (underemployment, divorce or illness) and at the same time deal with the pity party our minds are excitedly throwing. ‘Told you so!, told you so!’

It is clear our mind is not a friend. A useful management strategy is to refuse to accept thoughts as truth and instead take the view that a thought is just a thought. If a thought isn’t helpful, call it out. I am not suggesting you shut out or stop dealing with the circumstances of your life, not at all, more that your choose your own emotional reality.

You don’t need to be giving yourself a hard time on top of dealing with difficult circumstances. If we can get on our own side it helps enormously.

When I live in what I call the ‘creator zone’ life holds mystery and magic. I have observed I make decisions that expand my world and these decisions are underpinned by emotions like inspiration, enthusiasm, a desire to serve and a sense that my work matters. I find that positive emotions like this lead to useful and positive actions.

Look around you. Everything you see is a result of your past decisions. Your future could be more of the same or it could be different in delightful and unanticipated ways.

In the ways we have control over our lives (not many in my book), our future is created by our actions now. Every action starts with a thought (fueled by an emotion).

Fuel your day with uplifting emotions and you will discover more possibility in your life. And call out the unhelpful thoughts when they turn up.

For strategies and support, consider a life coaching program with The Life Creative, your other best friend.