You can direct your mind by using a good question. This question is one of my favorites. What good have I been ignoring? The answers go on and on, improving my mood the whole time. I keep thinking of more and more good things I've been ignoring. The question almost demands it.
The emotional fallout from this question is abundant good feelings of happiness, gratitude, and pleasant surprise. When you ask a question like this, you’ll find answers everywhere. The question makes you look. You’ll realize someone has done something nice for you and you hadn’t really noticed. You’ll remember a great time you had a couple weeks ago and realize you hadn’t thought of it since then.
The question sets your mind to be on the lookout for good you’ve overlooked. You’ll notice good news items you might not normally notice, like how this lake got cleaned up or that disease now has a cure. The question helps overcome a natural tendency of the mind to get used to good things and only notice bad things. Read more about the mind's negative bias here.
What has been improving? What’s been getting better?
Ask this question, think of some answers, and ask it again.
This is especially a good question to ask if you’ve had your attention on what has been getting worse, or if you've had a feeling things are going badly, or you’re worried they will go badly.
This question won’t solve all your problems, of course, but it can reduce the amount of distress you’re feeling by widening the tunnel vision stress causes. You’re not trying to fool yourself or pretend everything is rosy. You’re looking to acknowledge the reality of what has been getting better.
When those are acknowledged, you are less distressed and more able to make things even better. And it is good for your mood. A good mood is healthy and productive. What good have you been ignoring?
Adam Khan is the author of Principles For Personal Growth, Slotralogy, Antivirus For Your Mind, and co-author with Klassy Evans of How to Change the Way You Look at Things (in Plain English). Follow his podcast, The Adam Bomb.
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