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Change Your Thinking -- Change Your Life! By Laurie Hayes

The only thing in life we have direct control over is our thoughts and our thoughts determine how we experience life.

You may know of someone who has what appears to be a perfect life ... a loving family, a beautiful home, an amazing career ... but if this person is filled with negative thoughts, he or she is not able to fully enjoy what life has to offer. This person may be focusing instead on what is missing or what is perceived wrong.

You may also know of someone who has faced a difficult situation, lives a humble existence, has to work two or three jobs to make ends meet, but regardless of the situation, always has a smile, a wave and an appreciation for everything good in life.

The good news is regardless of our current circumstances, we can choose our thoughts and how we respond to any situation. We can choose to be positive, loving and appreciative, or negative, judgmental and critical. It's all up to us.

When you find yourself caught up in negative thinking, recognize what is happening and stop yourself. Then ask yourself one or more of the following questions.

1. How is this negative thinking serving me?

2. Am I willing to let something beyond my control consume my thoughts and ruin my day?

3. Is there something I can do about this to make it better?

4. How can I turn this negative thought into a positive one?

Jack Canfield, co-author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, teaches that 90 percent of our thoughts are habitual. If you find the majority of your thoughts are negative, it is because you allowed them to make themselves at home in your mind so they play as recordings over and over again. You may find it difficult to shut them out, even though you want to.

Since 90 percent of what you think about is habitual, you can create new thoughts to replace the negative ones and develop new thinking habits. A good place to start is by playing a little game.

Every time a negative thought enters your mind, acknowledge it, then find a positive one to replace it. Now this won't always be easy, but it can be done. You can be as conservative or as extreme as you like. Here are a few examples to get you started ...

Negative -- The taxes on my pay stub are outrageous!
Positive -- I have a job.

Negative -- I hate doing housework!
Positive -- I have a home.

Negative -- My clothes are too tight!
Positive -- I have enough food to eat.

Negative -- The only parking space I could find was at the far end of the lot!
Positive -- I am capable of walking and I have a car.

Negative -- My heating bill is huge!
Positive -- I am warm in the winter.

The next time you are faced with a negative thought, try taking control and making a positive change. In the famous words of Henry Ford, "Whether you think you can, or think you can't, you're right."

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