Scientists say that we have over 60,000 thoughts a day. That is scary huge. But to me, what is even scarier is thinking about which thoughts we listen to without even realising, and which ones we let fade off into our minds just as quickly as they arrived.
Our minds are like a busy train station
When explaining our thoughts, I like to use the analogy of a train station. Our brain is the station and our thoughts are the trains coming in and out. Thousands and thousands of trains pass through the station on a daily basis, and most of the time we jump on board the first train that goes past without even being aware of where it is going. We don’t think too much about it, and more often than not we don’t realise we have the opportunity to get off and choose another option.
The word responsibility means we have the ‘ability’ to ‘respond’. Decision making is what separates us from the animals – we have the ability to choose the way we react and behave. Yes, we have instincts and reflexes like most other living things, but what makes humans unique, special, complex and forever evolving is our ability to choose our response.
In other words, we get to choose which train or thought we want to follow, and when and where we get off when we realise it is not leading us anywhere fun, useful or productive.
Become aware of when you are on autopilot
It can be useful to be on autopilot and necessary to be productive. For example, everyday activities like brushing your teeth, drinking water from your water bottle or spelling your name would take a lot longer if we had to concentrate and think about them each time. So, it can be helpful to switch onto autopilot and let those things happen without thinking about how. BUT, the trick is to know when we are on autopilot and when we need to switch it off. Otherwise, we are just moseying around like zombies with no actual clue on how we are feeling or why we act in certain ways. Not really the ideal situation for reaching your potential, being a good person or living a happy and healthy life.
Keeping ourselves on autopilot can happen if we are not aware we are using it. For most of us, it is our default position. So take a step back and notice, be aware that you have a brain designed to think when you need it. Otherwise, it tends to have a mind of it’s own and carries on thinking without you knowing which nasty trains it is boarding. We have a natural negative bias as humans, meaning we tend to board the train to negative town before waiting for the next happy train to come along. Step back, observe the trains coming in, and make an informed decision before jumping on board. Because, why not? If we had the choice to go to happy town on the Wonderful train express or visit Negative Nancy at Shittymoodville, then the decision is obvious. We just have to be brave enough, aware enough and intelligent enough to realise we have the ‘ability’ to ‘respond’. Always.
Remember, our mind and brain are tools we can use, it’s important not to let them use us.
Our emotions let us know what we are thinking
Wowzers. Sixty thousand trains go passed everyday and I have to watch them all come in and out before I make an informed decision on which ones to get on? That’s a bit much.
Well, my friend, that is the beauty of emotions. Angry, frustrated, uneasy, overwhelmed, curious, fascinated, interested or happy. Our body is so clever and so much smarter than our brains, it can let us know what we are thinking through a feeling. Emotions that we feel in our chest, stomach, legs or fingers are little summaries of our thoughts all compressed into one feeling. How amazing is that?
So when you’re not sure what is happening in your head and your feeling dizzy from the peek hour traffic in your mind, tune into your body and how you are feeling. It will let you know. This is called intuition. You should google it.
Make good choices. Get on trains that make you feel good and avoid the ones that don’t. It’s that simple. Switch off autopilot regularly, it makes you smarter and enables you to have healthier relationships with yourself and others. Realise you have a choice, even when you think you don’t. Listen to your body, it is smarter than you. Be kind to yourself and remember, you are wonderful.
How many thoughts do scientists think we have per day?
What is one way that your body can let you know what you are thinking? When did this happen for you?
Can you think of another analogy that is different to trains and a train station that helps explain our thoughts?