Expecting the Best

blue city bike beside black metal fence

When we speak about quality of life, we are usually looking at the externals – a roof over our heads, water and food, relationships with those we love. Perhaps, we should spend more time looking at our internals, when it comes to quality of life, because that is where we truly live.

There are those who say, “You are what you eat,” but it might be more appropriate to say, “You are what you think.” Now, this is not really “new” news. This is one of the great universal truths, handed down over the centuries by poets and philosophers and by almost every great religious leader the world has ever known.

Here are two principles: 1) We move toward and become like what we think about; and 2) Our present thoughts, more than anything else, determine our future. So, it is important to learn to control your thoughts. First, you need to learn how to listen to you – a skill you can learn – to really understand what you are thinking about. (Keeping a journal is one way to monitor your thoughts.) When you can do that, you’ll be taking control of your life, as well as your thinking.

And how do you control your thoughts? Well, once you learn to monitor yourself by listening to the stream of inner messages that precede your emotions, then you ask yourself if some of these thoughts are other people’s ideas that may not really be true – for you. Where did they come from, and are they really helping you to grow?

Look for distortions, exaggerations, and other misrepresentations – words like “always” and “never” are immediate red flags. Once identified, then you deliberately correct them – on the spot – to a more realistic viewpoint. Finally, you choose to put the best possible slant on every situation, every event, and every occurrence. There are at least two sides to every story, typically more than two, and one of those may lead you to a more productive end result.

Just remember, your present thoughts do determine your future. When you consistently expect the best, and think in those terms, you tend to get the best – out of yourself and those around you.