Checking Your Mental Diet

Last week  I wrote about your role in the overall attitude of your organization; today I am leading a teleseminar on dealing with toxic attitudes as a leader (here is the link – and if the event is passed you can order the recording); and now I want to give you specific actions you could take to change/improve your attitude.

Not someone else’s.

Yours.

That change starts with your thoughts.

So the starting point for creating a great organizational attitude starts with what we are thinking about most of the time, because that literally starts the chain reaction.

your mental dietSo what are you thinking about?

More directly, let’s talk about how we can manage what we think about – and that all starts with what we feed our mind.  To do that, let’s consider seven things that directly impact our thoughts.

Things That Influence Our Thinking

What we read.  You have heard this one before, but does that knowledge change your reading stack?  There are likely professional, trade and industry information you need to read, perhaps you need (or want) to read a newspaper, and there is of course the email and other information you must process every day.  But what are you purposefully reading to feed your mind with jet fuel for your attitude?  Maybe it is reading the documents of your faith, teaching and writing from uplifting authors, poetry or even a set of positive blogs.  Find something that lifts your thinking and spirits, and invest 10 minutes a day for the next month.   At the end of 30 days you will notice a difference, and will likely be reading more than 10 minutes a day.

Who we hang out with.  Your attitude is influenced by the people that you interact with most.  So who are you spending time with?  Do you spend time with uplifting, supportive and positive people, or Negative Neds and Henny-Pennys who are predicting when the sky will fall?  Not only do others impact our attitude directly, but who we hang out with also impacts our thinking, because of the conversations we have, topics we discuss and the perspective of those people.  Consider this one a doubly powerful influencer.  Now that you have thought about it this way, who do you want to choose to spend more time with?

Where we hang out.  If you are a parent, you know this.  You likely wouldn’t want your teen spending all of their time in the neighborhood pool hall, or perhaps in a place where there are bad influences, yet how often do you think about how place affects your thinking?  Where are the places that you feel most alive?  For me there are places both near and far that provide this respite, this revival for me.  Figure out where these personal places are.  They needn’t be spectacular or impressive to others, as long as they feed you.   Church, Starbucks, a park, your backyard – figure out where these places are for you and make sure you are spending time in them intentionally and more often.

What we watch and listen to. Ok, I’m talking mostly about TV, but you can include radio and music too.   Some mindless viewing is fine, but are you watching too much violence, too much negativity, too much gossip, too many accounts of the devastating storm?  Massive research proves the more of it we watch; the more it impacts our thinking. Keep an audio/video input diary for a week and you will find there is a lot going into your mind, and some of it might not be in the best interest of your short and long term attitude.

What we experience.  This is related to several others on the list, but deserves a separate comment from me and thought from you.  We think about every situation we find ourselves in.  Consider this the combination of the people and places.  Consciously looking for new experiences can, in itself help us learn new things, which generally has a positive impact on our thinking and attitude, beyond the nature of the experience itself.

What we talk about.  Based on most of what is above, we will talk about what we are thinking about.  And when we verbalize things, we crystalize and imprint our thoughts.  Pick topics that will engage your mind (and the minds of others) in a positive way. Think about it this way – consider less gossip and more possibilities, less doom and more happiness, less destruction and more encouragement.

While these are the major inputs, there is one other thing which we must consider – and too often don’t.

How we interpret it all.  Is your glass half empty or half full?  Is there a 50% chance of rain or a 50% chance of sun?  This simple mental shift is part of what I mean, but there is more.  Yes, you can stop watching the news, but perhaps you want to be informed.  The news, on reflection, often holds learning lessons for us and we don’t have to allow our mindset to become mired in the negativity of it.  Beyond that, think about your experiences:  what you experience is unique to you in any situation.  When you discuss an experience, movie, TV show or book, with someone else who was with you and watched the movie, read the news or the book, you quickly realize you had different experiences, lessons and thoughts!  The filters you view the situation through, and the choices you make, make all the difference in the world in your thoughts and therefore your attitude.

Remarkable Principle:  Remarkable leaders realize that to maintain their own attitude, they must constantly feed their mind with the right fuel.

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