How To Train Your Mind For Constructive Thinking

How To Train Your Mind For Constructive Thinking

Welcome back to Mid-Week Meditations, Lifehacker‘s weekly dip into the pool of stoic wisdom, and a guide to using its waters to reflect on and improve your life.

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This week’s selection comes from Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations book five, section 16. He encourages the practice of thinking good, positive thoughts regularly:

“Such as are thy habitual thoughts, such also will be the character of thy mind; for the soul is dyed by the thoughts. Dye it then with a continuous series of such thoughts as these: For instance, that where a man can live, there he can also live well.”

What It Means

Your mind will take on the aspect of the thoughts you have on a regular basis. Your soul, your consciousness, the “you” inside of your vessel, is shaped by those thoughts. So attempt to shape your soul with constructive thoughts. For example, wherever you can live, choose to make it a good life.

What to Take From It

Your brain is somewhat malleable. Like a muscle, you can work it out and cultivate certain ways of thinking. If you always choose to have negative thoughts, you’ll train your mind to always go directly to the negative, setting a gloomy, pessimistic baseline for yourself. Negativity will always be your pre-set.

But it’s possible to rewire your thinking. It isn’t as simple as muttering some useless mantra such as “Stay positive,” though. Re-moulding your mind requires action with intent. It requires you to choose to have more constructive thoughts, the same way you must choose to lift a weight in order to build muscle. You can stare at this weight and think, “That weight is so heavy,” or you can lift it and think, “This weight is heavy, for now.” To transform your mindset, you must exercise.

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