The Key to Happiness and Success – Managing your thoughts

Have you ever received a compliment? Doesn’t it feel great? Has someone ever insulted you? It feels terrible. Right? Can you imagine that happening ten times in one day? Fifty? One hundred times? That would probably be the worst day of your life.  

A study was conducted to determine how many thoughts you think a day and they found that you think on an average 50,000 thoughts a day. That is a lot! How many of the 50,000 thoughts are negative?

Would you say half? A quarter? Even if only ten percent of your thoughts were negative, that is still five thousand negative thoughts a day! 

Rabbi Ben Tzion Shaifer explains the importance of being aware of the self talk that goes on in your head. Often you don’t think about your thoughts because they are just thoughts. However, your thoughts have a TREMENDOUS impact on your degree of success you achieve, your level of  happiness and self esteem. Just like it is clear that there are negative ramifications from hurtful talk, so too it is essential to understand that negative self talk is destructive as well. You would never talk to another person the way you sometimes talk to yourself; so why do you talk to yourself with such negativity?

Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, MD writes that he believes that the negative voice inside of yourself is the voice of the Yetzer Hara, the evil inclination. He quotes the Gemora in Kiddushin 30b that says 

“יצרו של אדם מתגבר עליו בכל יום ומבקש להמיתו”

“Everyday the evil inclination tries to destroy man.”-Tractate Kiddushin 30b

He explains that the evil inclination tries to destroy man by crushing him with self defeating negative thoughts.  

How do you stop thinking negative thoughts? 

By learning to manage your thoughts. Although you might not control what thoughts enter your mind. You do control how long you continue thinking those thoughts. 

Dr. Miriam Adahan suggests applying the Marie Kondo method to decluttering your home to decluttering your mind from negative thoughts. 

Marie Kondo, an organizational consultant advises when organizing your home to pick up an item and ask “Does this item bring me joy? If not, don’t try to justify its place in your closet. Just say ‘thank you’ and  discard it.”

Dr. Adahan suggests that when a thought pops in your mind. Ask yourself “Does this thought bring me joy? Is this thought helpful?” If not, don’t continue dwelling on it and think about something else.”

Learning to manage your thinking is the key to happiness and success. However, please be patient with yourself and realize that it will take time until you acquire this new skill. Just like with any other habit it takes constant repetition until it becomes routine. However long it may take, the payoff is certainly worth it. 

Miriam Brodersen is a writer and teacher at several seminaries in Jerusalem, Israel.