positive thinking

First Thought, Second Thought, Right Action

Try It For 21Hopefully everything we say or do occurs as a thought first. This means that we have at least a brief opportunity to decide if what we are thinking should be said out loud or acted upon.

Many people have the misconception that they should be able to control their initial thought and become upset when they have any negative thought. In reality, we cannot control our first thought. However, we can decide what to do with that first thought. Assuming that this first thought is negative, we can:

  1. hold onto the thought, and nurse it until it become s so big that it feels real, and act accordingly; or
  2. replace the thought with a second, more positive thought, and act according to that.

Since we cannot control whether or not we have an initial negative thought, our only hope for thinking more positively is to take responsibility for the second thought and the action we take (or don’t take) as a result of our thoughts.

By repeatedly replacing negative with positive thoughts and acting on the positive thought, we can slowly turn our first thoughts to the more positive side.  Eventually, we can think a negative thought, bless it (or even laugh at it), and replace it with a positive thought.

Here’s an example: Someone cuts you off while you’re driving in traffic and nearly causes an accident.

Initial Thought: Jerk! Who do you think you are?!

Typical Second Thought: You nearly killed me! I hope you have a terrible day!

Typical Resulting Action(s): Yell and scream, flip them the bird, speed up the car, general road rage.

Domino Action: The other person becomes defensive, starts screaming back, feels terrible about nearly causing an accident, and drives away feeling anxious and angry.

Alternate Scenario:

Initial Thought: Jerk! Who do you think you are?!

Alternate Positive Thought: Thank heavens we didn’t have an accident. It could have been much worse. They must be just as scared as me. I hope that person has a better day.

Right Action: Intentionally SMILE at the person that cut you off. Drive more carefully.

Domino Action: The other person is disarmed by your smile, smiles back, takes a deep breath, drives away feeling grateful and humble. Throughout the day they tell people about the person they cut off that smiled at them.

How does this apply to you? What initial negative thought can you replace with a second, positive, thought and right action? Don’t worry if this doesn’t come naturally. You are human. Just keep trying!