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I trust you were successful using the simple breathing technique I shared with you last month to help you reduce stress during the holidays. I know I had plenty of opportunities to practice it with the hustle and bustle of the holidays.

Now that you are aware of your breathing, I would like to bring awareness to another very important area that can change how you feel each day.

In my experience as a Motivational Fitness Expert, my clients will say things like “My work stresses me out”, “My husband/wife makes me angry” or “My children get me so upset”. Before I share with you how to change your thoughts and improve how you feel, I would like to share a short story to show you how we are in control of our thoughts when we choose to be.

A man steps into a full elevator on the tenth floor. There is very little room, so he steps in, turns around and faces the doors waiting to get to the first floor. While standing there he is being poked from behind and is getting angry that it isn’t stopping. As he passes each floor he becomes angrier as the poking continues. Once the door opens on the first floor he plans to give this person a piece of his mind. The doors finally open on the first floor, he steps out and turns around to find that the person who was poking him is blind and was touching around to feel the space around him. Instead of yelling and complaining, he suddenly has compassion and understanding for the situation and is no longer angry.

The point of this story is that nothing changed from the tenth floor to the first floor other than the thoughts he had in his mind. Sometimes our emotions can blind us, and prevent us from taking the time to understand the truth of a situation. We all have a choice about what we think and how we choose to feel, the question is are we willing to do the hard work to take control of it?

Here are five steps that I use for myself as well as share with my clients when helping them take control of their thoughts.

1) Assess the situation/be aware of your thoughts – If you are feeling uneasy, stressed, afraid, etc. stop and look at how you are thinking and what you are thinking.

2) Acknowledge your thoughts – agree that you have a situation that you have chosen to view in a way that doesn’t feel good.

3) Ask yourself if it is a rational and true thought  – most times we are creating something that doesn’t exist or is irrational, a product of what may feel like overwhelming stress or emotion.

4) Reframe your thought – if it’s a false or irrational thought then replace it with a healthy rational thought. Example: Unhealthy thought – “My son makes me angry when he doesn’t clean his room.  “Change this to: “I choose not to get angry when my son doesn’t clean his room and if he doesn’t, there will be a consequence until it is clean.” Getting angry doesn’t help the situation at all.

5) Breathe – include the breathing technique I shared last month. This will help to calm you, allowing you to take each thought one at a time so that it’s less overwhelming.

My clients will tell me it’s hard to change their thought process, and I agree. But I also say, “It is much better to put your efforts towards change and see a new positive outcome rather than put your energy into anger, worry, stress, etc. and get the same negative outcome.”

From my experience, the more you practice this approach the easier it gets. I believe strongly in bringing my clients through mind and body workouts and as a result I see the brain gets stronger just like a muscle does.

This new thought process is a great way to start the New Year off, but keep in mind we don’t need to wait until every January 1st to get motivated to make a positive change. We can do this anytime we want; every day can be a fresh start.

Wishing you a happy, healthy, abundant New Year.

Todd

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