Today’s post is a new exercise I made up that I found improved my thought patterns. It’s simple and takes no time, money, or other resources. Just your attention.
It combines three things that work for me: changing words to change you thoughts, celebrating what you accept, and a property about truth.
Ingredient 1: changing words changes your thoughts
I’ve written about simple exercises to change a few words here and there that can change how you think. For example
- Avoiding starting responses with “No,” “But,” or “However” (from Marshall Goldsmith)
- Judging people less
I’m amazed at the effectiveness of such small changes in changing your thoughts. But when it works it works.
Ingredient 2: what you can accept you can celebrate
I also wrote a couple posts on moving beyond merely accepting things you can’t change to finding things about them to celebrate. I like celebration more than acceptance, so that practice improves my life.
I’ve found that any time I learn to accept something, I can learn to celebrate it or something essential to it.
Ingredient 3: “The opposite of a great truth is also true”
Today’s exercise also builds on the quote from the great physicist Niels Bohr:
There are trivial truths and the great truths. The opposite of a trivial truth is plainly false. The opposite of a great truth is also true.
His observation seems crazy at first, but if you play with it, I predict you’ll find meaning in it.
Today’s exercise combines small word changes with finding ways to enjoy things other people aren’t able to find they like. It’s more of a playful exercise you do for yourself, so I don’t include it with my Social Skills Exercise series.
The exercise is this:
- When you would say “I hate…” replace the word ‘hate’ with ‘love’.
- Change nothing else about the sentence.
- Make sense of the new sentence.
- See how it changes you.
That’s it. Very simple. It may sound silly, but try it out for a week to see how it affects you. It sounds like it would have you say you love many things you hate, but I expect you’ll find
- The exercise forces you to look at many things in new ways.
- You learn to handle problems more effectively.
- Things don’t bring you down as much.
- You’ll find humor in things that used to bother you.
- There’s less in life to hate.
- There’s more in life to love.
- You can manage your emotions more than you thought you could.
For example, “I hate getting caught in the rain” changes to “I love when I get caught in the rain.” You can’t change the weather so you might as well learn to love what you get. Rain is a part of nature as much as rainbows and mangoes or whatever parts of it you love so you can probably find things in it to love.
“I hate the Yankees” or whatever team beat the one you love becomes “I love the Yankees.” The new phrase might force you to appreciate competition over just the outcome of it.
“I hate when things don’t go the way I want them to,” which is the basis for many things people think worsen their lives, becomes “I love when things don’t go the way I want them to.” This phrasing might help you realize what made and makes you the person you are. Do you want a life of eating cookies and ice cream on the couch or do you want to achieve things and overcome challenges?
Think of times you might say you hate something or things you hate. Now think of saying you love those things instead.
Can you find something in them to love? Can you make sense of the new sentence? Does it force you to think differently? Does it make you feel better?
See what happens after a week of doing it. Or however long it takes to get the hang of it. You might never say you hate something again while learning to see the world in a new way.
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