Beliefnet
Your Morning Cup of Inspiration

Anyone who has ever taken care of a baby has had the experience of redirecting thoughts. The infant starts crying, and immediately you whip out a brightly colored toy and wave it in front of the baby’s face.  Your hope is that the baby will stop thinking about whatever is upsetting him or her at the moment, and instead will focus on Elmo or a set of plastic keys in primary colors.

Like babies, when something upsets us, we need to redirect our thoughts. Sadly no one is there to do that for us, like when we were small.  Instead, as adults, we need to learn how to redirect our thoughts ourselves.  Many people never learn to do this, and as a result, they spend a lot of time being very unhappy.  I sometimes make this mistake.   And then I have to remind myself, “Redirect!”

Most irritations in life are momentary. And we are supposed to experience them only in that moment.  When we don’t redirect our thoughts, we experience bad things well beyond the moment in which they occurred.  For example, let’s say that someone insults you.  The insult lasts no more than 20 seconds.  However, most of us will mull over that insult for the next hour, or perhaps the rest of the day.  Some people will carry around that insult for years.

The bad news is that you are not going to be able to eliminate rude people from your life. Believe me, I’ve tried, and it just isn’t possible.  Rude and unmannerly people show up no matter what you do, and no matter how nice you are.  You also cannot create a life in which nothing bad happens.  Too much of life is outside of our control.

However, we can try to experience bad things solely within the time frame that they occur. And then we can go back to being happy, relaxed individuals.  The way to do that is to immediately redirect ourselves when something unpleasant happens.  Let’s say that someone insults you.  As soon as possible, excuse yourself from that person and do something positive.  If you are good at art, spend a little time drawing.  I you love music, play your instrument.  If you happen to be an avid reader, then take some time to read your latest novel.  The key is to do something positive in order to replace the insult in your mind with good thoughts.

The same holds true for bad life experiences. Let’s say that you are laid off or fired from your job.  The laying off or firing happens in a matter of seconds.  It is what you do immediately afterward that dictates whether you will be happy or not.  You can spend days, weeks, or months, fretting over why you lost a job that you worked so hard at.  Or, as soon as you have lost your job, you can redirect your thinking.  You can leave that job behind mentally and focus all your energies on what you would like to do in the future.  You can see the end of the job as really an opportunity to do something that better suits your skills and talents – a job in which you can really shine.

This week, consider strategies that you can use to redirect your thoughts. There is no cookie cutter mold for how to do this.  Every person’s approach will be unique for them.  The key is to find an approach that works for you, and then do it consistently.  If you do so, you will find that the inevitable bumps in the road won’t seem as bad, and you’ll spend more time being happy.

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