7 Ways to Overcome Mental Laziness
We often associate mental noise and chatter with active thinking. This is not true. As a matter of fact most of us are mentally lazy. We know our brain is going on automatic most of the time, but we hardly stop to think about it. It is a fact of life that we learn to accept and live with.
I was shocked when I read that 90 to 95% of our biology and thinking is controlled by our subconscious mind. What this means is that only 10% or less of our thoughts are generated from our conscious mind based on what we’re experiencing now.
The downside of mental laziness
You might ask what’s the harm? Isn’t it better to automate more things in our life?
Automating your mind is fine if you are happy with the type of thoughts and beliefs you have and you’re still able to enjoy the present moment. But if you’re like me, chances are you have limiting beliefs and negative thoughts that take away from enjoying life.
The downside of automatic thinking can be summed up below:
Feeding off the same negativity. On average 70% of our thoughts are negative or redundant. What a waste of mind power!
How can we expect our collective experience to improve when most of the time we are immersed in negative thinking?
Creating serious health issues. It is estimated that 1/3 of patients heal themselves by the power of their own thought (the placebo effect). The opposite should stand true as well. Continued negative thinking can lead to serious illness (the nocebo effect).
Missing out on the present moment. When you are in your head most of the time, how can you experience what’s in front of you right now?
Being somewhere else (not here and now) can cause boredom, anxiety, stress, and so many other negative states.
Not living to our potential. We are held hostage by our conditioned subconscious mind. We are more accustomed to I can’t, there is no way, ain’t gonna happen and so on.
The few of us that break the mold and step out of their limiting beliefs and conditioning become very successful in living their truth.
We all can be whatever we want to be. It’s not a matter of capability but a matter of desire and belief. We have different unique talents. Unfortunately, the majority of us chooses to stick to the limiting thoughts and excuses.
How can we strengthen our conscious thinking muscle and reduce mind chatter?
This is not to be confused with fooling yourself to think positive thoughts. It is more about awakening to the pattern of your own thought and challenging the negative beliefs.
1. Observe your thoughts. The first step is to start observing your thoughts. Thoughts come and go. Just notice the thought as it passes by. Don’t judge or fight it. Become the observer. Experience it in your body. How does it feel? Don’t label; allow.
The moment you pay attention to a thought, it starts to change then fades away.
2. Question the persistent thoughts. As you continue to observe your thoughts, you will notice the ones that keep coming up. If they are negative, question them.
The best way I have found to question habitual beliefs and thoughts is Byron Katie’s The Work. She generously offers free guidance and forms. Give it a try. It really works :).
It is important to realize that you can’t observe and question EVERY thought. Do the best you can and don’t beat yourself up.
3. Meditate. You don’t have to be a Zen monk to start meditating. You can start a very simple practice of sitting still for a few minutes, breathing deeply and observing the breath. If you lose focus, gently bring your attention back to your breath.
Meditation helps in calming your mind and having more control over your thoughts. Check out the three breaths meditation video by Mary Jaksch.
4. Do one thing at a time. Multitasking amplifies absent mindedness and automatic thinking. When you divide your attention, you sacrifice enjoyment, meaning and quality results.
Do one task at a time and give it all your intention, attention and effort. This is the best way to get in the flow and just be one with what you are experiencing at the moment.
5. Practice mindfulness. Pay attention to everything you do. Become aware of your surroundings; enjoy the food you’re eating; listen to the sounds around you. Experience life through your senses and body.
As your awareness expands, your appreciation for life grows. This is the best way to overcome boredom and mind numbing thoughts.
6. Get clear about what you want in life. Nothing scares people more than intentionally thinking about what they want and what they can be.
Allow yourself to dream and explore the possibilities of what could be. This is more effective in advancing your life. You don’t gain anything from continuous negative thinking and made-up excuses.
7. Reduce escapism activities. It is OK to escape and enjoy entertaining activities to renew and relax. However, if you become obsessed with entertainment and heavily rely on it to feel good, you are numbing your mind and avoiding your life.
The same can be said about the consumption of alcohol and recreational drugs. People think they experience spiritual highs through such use. The opposite is true, drinking and using drugs will take a person below thought level (lower consciousness) and not enlightenment (higher consciousness).
Recognize your need to escape and control what you do and for how long.
Thoughts are very powerful. They are energy that resonates, creates and affects the quality of our experiences. Being aware of our thoughts brings us one step closer to living up to our potential and being more at peace with life.
I leave you my friends with this quote.
Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.