Creating Productive Thoughts and Recognizing Opportunities
I was sweeping my floors after lunch, thinking about my past week and how out of character it was. I went to bed at 10pm (I have been known to crawl under the covers at 12:30am) and woke up at 6am, and ACTUALLY GOT OUT OF BED to do a workout and yoga. What?!! I went to a fitness class ALONE! I created my first vision board. I CUT MY HAIR. Yes, type-A me decided to go home from work on Thursday and put my hair in pigtails, take my kitchen scissors (bad plan) and just chop off 3 inches of hair. I woke up on Saturday and slept late. When I got up I didn’t even feel guilty about it. These behaviours and activities are so out of place in my normal day-to-day that of course I had to look back and wonder, what on earth got into me this week?
Thinking about this past week got me thinking about opportunities. Opportunities are presented to us ALL THE TIME. And I don’t mean big, life-changing ones like being offered a new job or meeting the love of your life. I mean opportunities to try new things, learn a lesson, be a good friend, love a little more, laugh a little more, create a timeless memory, or be a better human. Have you ever looked at all the events happening near you on Facebook? Every one of those present an opportunity to jump outside your comfort zone and try something new. Have you ever had a bad day and recognized the opportunity to either continue feeling down or deciding to use the negative to learn a lesson, and make the next day even better? Do you know how many opportunities to enjoy your life, or learn a tough lesson, are presented to you EVERY. SINGLE. DAY??
Which leads me to the question, why is it that I sometimes feel like there are countless opportunities, and sometimes I feel like there are none?
Opportunities are all around us, every day. And yet I often catch myself “stuck in a rut” or “feeling low” and of course, I fail to see the opportunities all around me when I am in a negative headspace. It makes sense then that the reason I sometimes fail to capitalize on opportunities is out of my failure to RECOGNIZE the opportunities around me. And that is because I have unproductive thoughts, as opposed to productive ones.
Quick note… unproductive thoughts are thoughts that inhibit, or stop us, from accomplishing amazing things or capitalizing on opportunities, examples could be “I am not good enough, I am too tired, etc.” and productive thoughts are thoughts that propel you forward in positivity. Such as “I am strong and capable, I could figure out anything I am presented with.”
René Descartes, a French philosopher, famously said, I think, therefore I am, and solidified the idea that our thoughts tell us something about ourselves. However, though our thoughts certainly tell us about ourselves (our current mood for example) we are not our thoughts. I know this because we can be good people that have bad thoughts, or vice versa. And yes, we can have unproductive thoughts and not be inherently unproductive people. The fact that we can choose to change our mindset shows that we are beings beyond our unconscious thoughts. And we can all create productive thoughts for ourselves that inspire us to recognize the opportunities around us every day. The question is, how?
Surround Yourself with Positivity & Production
I think the most impactful way to create productive, positive thoughts is to, well, surround yourself with them. Read positive books, follow positive people on social, listen to positive podcasts, jot positive ideas down in a journal, or even your phone. Keep a gratitude journal or get a gratitude app if that works better for your schedule. If you feel inspired daily, by what you consume from the world, your mindset will follow.
Schedule Your Time to Save Space in Your Mind
USE A CALENDAR!! Scheduling time for yourself, time to journal, think, go for walks, read those positive books, and talk to good friends. The more scheduled you can get, the less space in your head is being used for keeping your daily tasks and calendar straight, and the more space you have for thinking about your dreams, goals, hopes, and affirmations. If you didn’t have to be constantly thinking about when you need to get groceries, maybe you could look around yourself and see the opportunities presenting themselves.
Talk to Yourself
I do this ALL THE TIME. Especially while I am driving in the car. During some of my lowest points I have just taken a big breath in, then on my exhale I said (out loud) “It is all going to be okay” over and over until I realized it was true. I also have full conversations out loud with myself to work through tricky thoughts or ideas. Don’t knock it till you try it.
Cry it Out
Sometimes repeating positive thoughts in our heads (or out loud) is not what we need. Some of my best mindsets have come after a good old fashioned cry. There is something about watching a really sad movie, crying like a baby, and waking up to a new day that brings perspective and reflection.
Try New Things
Do you know that feeling of trying something new? The adrenaline that pumps through you, the fear that ignites in you, and the thrill of knowing you accomplished that fear? If you can’t remember the last time you had that feeling, GO OUT AND TRY SOMETHING NEW RIGHT NOW! And no, something new doesn’t have to be quitting your job or moving to a new city (unless you want it to) but it does have to be something that ignites even a bit of that adrenaline. Message your new co worker to see if they want to grab lunch together tomorrow, wear a new outfit combo that you’re a bit nervous to rock, go try one of those free yoga classes at a new studio. As soon as you do one little new thing, it opens your eyes to the opportunities all around you.
The truth is that we all have the capacity to intentionally create the time, space, and mindset to recognize the opportunities around us. The more productive and positive we can keep our mind, the more amazing opportunities we can capitalize on. And do you know what will happen when you show up each day ready to take every opportunity? Anything you want.