Our brains produce as many as 50,000 thoughts per day—and 95% of these thoughts are repeated the next day, reflecting our mindset and beliefs.

So this means that every day we have 50,000 new chances to build ourselves up or break ourselves down!

Since many of us exercise daily, try all kinds of diets to improve our health, and are willing to guzzle down dark green juice concoctions, we may be totally forgetting about the most important part of our bodies: our minds. Do you think that a ‘mind cleanse’ is a good idea?

woman-meditatingIf we could cleanse our minds of all of our random, negative, unproductive and even hurtful thoughts, wouldn’t it free up enough mental space to think new thoughts and entertain new possibilities? Too many of us spend sleepless nights choosing to self-loath, or spend our waking hours questioning decisions we’ve already made. We let our minds randomly intrude on our lives with negativity, pain and over-analysis.

Not only does that kind of thinking waste valuable time, but it can actually disable our chances to act on good opportunities in our lives, and even threaten our physical or mental health. Instead of listening to all that fruitless mind chatter every day; studies suggest that we can actually change the way we think—if we put our minds to it.

We all know that the thoughts our minds produce and the conversations we have with ourselves can have profound effects on our lives. The Baha’i teachings ask us to direct our thoughts toward spiritual subjects:

If a man’s thought is constantly aspiring towards heavenly subjects then does he become saintly; if on the other hand his thought does not soar, but is directed downwards to centre itself upon the things of this world, he grows more and more material until he arrives at a state little better than that of a mere animal. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, pp. 17-18.

To direct your thoughts toward those spiritual subjects, here are five exercises that can build the mental muscle we need to turn our unproductive, negative thought spirals upward:  

  1. Learn to distinguish between ‘mind junk’ and what could lead to problem solving and strategies for constructive action:

Some men and women glory in their exalted thoughts, but if these thoughts never reach the plane of action they remain useless: the power of thought is dependent on its manifestation in deeds. – Ibid., p. 18.

  1. Evaluate your thoughts and emotions as they happen—and if they’re not constructive or helpful, try to replace them:

… concentrate all the thoughts of your heart on love and unity. When a thought of war comes, oppose it by a stronger thought of peace. A thought of hatred must be destroyed by a more powerful thought of love. Thoughts of war bring destruction to all harmony, well-being, restfulness and content.

Thoughts of love are constructive of brotherhood, peace, friendship, and happiness. – Ibid., p. 30.

  1. Give yourself the same loving advice you’d give to a trusted friend. Thoughts about love heal and guide us:

Love is the one means that ensureth true felicity both in this world and the next. Love is the light that guideth in darkness, the living link that uniteth God with man, that assureth the progress of every illumined soul. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 27.

  1. Balance your emotions with logic and detachment, and realize that this life is meant to be a happy, fulfilling one:

You must live in the utmost happiness. If any trouble or vicissitude comes into your lives, if your heart is depressed on account of health, livelihood or vocation, let not these things affect you. They should not cause unhappiness, for Baha’u’llah has brought you divine happiness. He has prepared heavenly food for you; He has destined eternal bounty for you; He has bestowed everlasting glory upon you. Therefore, these glad tidings should cause you to soar in the atmosphere of joy forever and ever. Render continual thanks unto God so that the confirmations of God may encircle you all. – Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, pp. 188-189.

  1. Practice gratitude and share it. Are you grateful for your life? If so, say thanks—and if not, use these mental exercises to turn your life into something you can be grateful for. Gratitude has been linked to all kinds of benefits, including happiness and long-term contentment. One study shows that grateful people even sleep better.

Ponder ye in your hearts the grace and the blessings of God and render thanks unto Him at eventide and at dawn. – Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 26.

Try these five simple mental exercises each day for a month, and then sit down and review: Am I happier? Does my life seem more spiritual, more free, more fulfilled? You’ll find, hopefully, that a more spiritual life is usually a happier one.

The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of BahaiTeachings.org or any institution of the Baha’i Faith.

19 Comments

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  • Deanne LaRue
    Jul 02, 2017
    Jim, integrative medicine, our future!
  • Jim Ferguson
    Jun 29, 2017
    Thanks Deanna......wonderful. I'm currently engages in the Integrative Medicine Fellowship at U AZ founded by Dr. Andrew Weil & your blog post really touches upon the heart of this fellowship do us.......the mind-spirit-body connection. I am also a Baha'i & loved the quotes......:-)
    Peace
    Jim Ferguson
    • Deanne LaRue
      Jun 29, 2017
      I'm so glad you are working in the field of integrative medicine...our future! Thank you Jim and good luck with your fellowship. (Please write something for Baha'i Teachings on the subject.) Peace and love
    • Deanne LaRue
      Jun 29, 2017
      I'm so glad you are working in the field of integrative medicine...our future! Thank you Jim and good luck with your fellowship. (Please write something for Baha'i Teachings on the subject.) Peace and love
  • Robin Venturelli
    Jun 28, 2017
    Very motivational article. Thank you. I've learned that you can't control your first thought, but you can control your second one. ❤️
  • Jay LaRue
    Jun 28, 2017
    Deanne, really good article! I needed it today but is useful every day.
    • Deanne LaRue
      Jun 28, 2017
      Fingers crossed Day Day
  • Sa Harar
    Jun 28, 2017
    Thank you, very much :). I needed to read exactly this, today. I'll try making a poster with the steps and will try your suggestion to do it for a month! The opening of your article is especially disarming by addressing that we are not alone in thinking the thoughts which cause us pain. Would love to try these accessible tips and offer them to friends!
    • Deanne LaRue
      Jun 28, 2017
      Poster is a great idea...I'll try it too
  • L Cole
    Jun 28, 2017
    Thank you for sharing these steps and related quotations, Deanne. Point 5 resonates. Practicing gratitude, cultivating it deep from within not just on the surface, helps bring peace of mind. With gratitude we gain a positive energy that comes from knowing the value of our life, wanting to engage in it, and not wanting to waste our time and energy on negative, unproductive mind chatter.
    • Deanne LaRue
      Jun 28, 2017
      Thank you for your comment and the point about gratitude; I agree! Would you mind if I used your comment to write another article on gratitude for Baha'i Teachings?
  • Guy Pierre Poulin
    Jun 27, 2017
    Dear Deanne, My wife practices Zen meditation and I am a bahai. Your article provides for us a great meeting point. Thanks you so much!
    P.S. More references about studies would be great.
    • Deanne LaRue
      Jun 28, 2017
      Guy thank you for your comment. I had included more references in the first article edition, but I think the editors thought it weighed down the points so they took them out. Also, I'm a Baha'i but my husband is not. It would be nice to explore experiences from couples of 'mixed marriages' and how they make it work, and even flourish with different perspectives?
  • Steve Eaton
    Jun 26, 2017
    I want to apply these, firmly and
    without more contemplation about
    it. To think that most of our ruminating is just stirring up old
    muddy water! What a waste of
    energy!
    • Deanne LaRue
      Jun 28, 2017
      Agreed! Another tool that I didn't include in the article is that Baha'is recite this phrase 95 times per day. Alláh-u-Abhá, which means, God is Most Glorious. I often use it, especially at night before sleeping when we are alone with our thoughts. It helps a great deal!
      (Bahá'ís are asked to repeat the phrase Alláh-u-Abhá 95 times per day, as described by Bahá'u'lláh, founder of the Bahá'í Faith in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, his book of laws.)
    • Deanne LaRue
      Jun 28, 2017
      Agreed! Another tool that I didn't include in the article is that Baha'is recite this phrase 95 times per day. Alláh-u-Abhá, which means, God is Most Glorious. I often use it, especially at night before sleeping when we are alone with our thoughts. It helps a great deal!
      (Bahá'ís are asked to repeat the phrase Alláh-u-Abhá 95 times per day, as described by Bahá'u'lláh, founder of the Bahá'í Faith in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, his book of laws.)
  • Barry Solomon
    Jun 26, 2017
    Hi Deanne, Thank you for this wonderful post! You draw upon principles of the Faith that I apply daily. Your practical, articulate message really resonated with me and I will be sure to share it with others. Warm Regards, Barry
    • Deanne LaRue
      Jun 28, 2017
      Thank you Barry, hope you are very well!