How to control your thoughts to feel happier

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Kevin Mangelschots

Controlling our emotions is hard, if not impossible. Nevertheless, learning how to control your thoughts to feel happier is possible for everyone out there.

Our feelings are rarely given the attention they deserve, even though figuring out what those emotions mean, and why we are experiencing them in a certain way, might help us to understand ourselves better.

While our feelings can’t be controlled directly, we can learn to accept them, and acknowledge that positive and negative sensations will continue to come and go our whole life since that’s a crucial part of human existence. This is how to control your thoughts to feel happier.

How to control your mind from unwanted thoughts?

Illustration how someone's mind holds many judgments and emotions.

  1. Identify your negative thoughts

    The first step towards building a more positive mindset is identifying, and consequently, getting rid of unwanted thoughts.

    What are your negative thoughts or negative thinking patterns? About what subject are you having those antagonistic ideas? Are these sentiments constantly in your mind, or only occurring when you are tired, or when you had an unfavorable experience during your day?

    These are all possible questions that you desperately need to ask yourself to discover what those unfavorable patterns are and to figure out what they’re trying to tell you.

    Formulate your pessimistic beliefs as precisely as possible. This way, you’re giving yourself the best possible chance to fix these counterproductive thought processes or even the possible lies you are inadvertently telling yourself.

  2. Realize when you’re experiencing those negative thoughts

    Multiple possible questions being written on a wooden board.

    It’s impossible to fix something when you don’t even realize it’s broken. That’s why we need to acknowledge when we’re having these negative thoughts if we want to learn how to control and protect our minds from unwanted thoughts.

    To turn your negative attitude around to a more realistic and productive mindset, you’ll need to recognize when those detrimental thoughts arise.

    That’s because there’s a chance that those pessimistic views you deem to be true are straight-up lies, inaccurate, or only present when a specific topic or person comes up.

  3. Identify the possible lies

    Image the word 'truth' written on a white background with a magnifying exposing the lies.

    “Are my negative thoughts realistic, or am I being overly critical of myself?”

    This is the main inquiry to ask yourself to determine the possible lies or errors in your thinking processes. You may be overly perfectionistic, or too self-critical out of fear or insecurity.

    This may lead to thinking errors and is precisely why we need to weed out the potential lies in our minds.

  4. Rephrase or replace negative thoughts

    Picture of a blackboard with the words “positive attitude” written on it.

    To eliminate negative self-talk, you must learn to rephrase these thoughts more accurately and positively.

    If your thoughts are overly self-damaging, then you should make it a point to rephrase them more realistically and affirmatively.

    An example of negative phrasing is “I’m useless since I executed that task horribly.” A more positive and realistic way of phrasing would be “I didn’t do the task as well as I would’ve liked, but I still managed to do it, and I will do better next time.”

    This creates a positive feedback loop that serves as a foundation to alter these unsupportive thoughts for the better.

    If you happen to find that your ideas are wrong, then you should just abandon those thoughts altogether to make room for a more accurate worldview.

  5. Monitor your thoughts

    An illustration of an idea with a lightbulb at the end.

    Keep track of your cognitive content. See if you have effectively replaced your old, negatively formulated thoughts with more optimistic and constructive convictions.

    Check if they’re factual and if there is something you can do to reword them in an even more productive way.

    Monitoring yourself is the best way to make sure you are doing everything you can to keep the poor thoughts out, and the good sentiments flowing, and to keep your mind in a healthy place.

    Armed with these tips, controlling negative thoughts becomes a realistic possibility if you decide to apply them. Because knowing without truly understanding makes it hard to resolve the issue, never mind preventing it from happening again in the future.

Positive thinking tips

Image of a note lying on a wooden table saying, “positive mind, positive vibes, positive life”.

  1. Think positive rather than negative

    Our first positive thinking tip is… thinking more positively! Most of you are probably thinking, “Thanks, Captain Obvious.” But it can be as simple as looking at the bright side of life. Because what we nurture, will grow.

    Even though this advice is so simple that it’s almost laughable, it’s not something all of us utilize, nor is it always easy to apply. I know I haven’t in the past, and when I started focusing on the good things in my life, no matter how small, my mood improved instantly.

  2. Preoccupy your mind with positive thoughts and goals

    One of the tips that can help you to think more positively is to occupy your mind with enjoyable, constructive thoughts.

    When life isn’t being too kind to you, and you’re head deep into trouble, it can be helpful to preoccupy your mind with affirmative content, and by carrying out things you enjoy and are passionate about.

    Keeping your psyche busy with a hobby you love like painting, soccer, or even just socializing with friends for example will help to take your mind off the unfavorable events you are currently going through in life.

  3. Practice a form of mindfulness

    A woman practicing yoga.

    Thinking can be exhausting. And we all need downtime occasionally to recover and recharge our batteries.

    A lot of people tend to dwell in the past or worry about the future that’s yet to come. Never taking the time to live in the here and now, unable to fully take in, and enjoy the moment.

    Mindfulness can help you to calm your psyche by relaxing your mind. This is accomplished through a large variety of techniques such as relaxation, and breathing exercises, to give you an idea.

  4. Exercise

    Exercising releases endorphins. Endorphins can be considered our “happiness hormone.” They make us experience positive emotions, and the same effect can be noted when exercising, but also when consuming alcohol, or other drugs for that matter.

    I would advise exercising rather than doing drugs since these aren’t sustainable options in the long run. Working out not only helps us to keep our minds straight, but it also aids in keeping our bodies in shape.

    The quote, “A healthy mind in a healthy body” holds merit after all.

How do our thoughts influence our emotions?

Our thoughts directly influence our emotions. Negative thoughts are oftentimes not true, exaggerated, and most certainly not helpful.

Negative persuasions typically arise out of our inner critical self. For instance, a pessimistic and cynical person will focus too much on their unfavorable experiences in life.

As a result, they’re more likely than not to go through antagonistic and destructive emotions such as anger, jealousy, and even resentment, if left unchecked.

This is why I advocate keeping a positive outlook on life. Because you will inevitably attract what you decide to focus on.

Conclusion

Image of the word, “conclusions” written on a black backboard with white chalk.

Learning how to control unwanted thoughts is necessary to lead a content, fulfilling life.

Changing our perception of the world around us is doable and well within our reach. Yet, it’s a daunting challenge and gets increasingly more difficult with the more pessimistic thoughts and events we have been through during our lifetime. That’s because traumatic experiences take time and effort to heal appropriately.

These tips can provide you with a general idea of how to turn your life around for the better. The following additional 8 acting strategies for stress relief can assist you in your quest for inner peace and rest.

Remember that those affirmative thoughts will lead to an optimistic, confident, and overall happy person. And while happiness might be a fleeting feeling, a sense of contentment can last you a whole lifetime.